Competitive Arcade Gaming & The Ongoing Dedication Towards Speedrunning

Year after year there are new advanced games being developed for gamers around the world to experience. The next upcoming consoles set to be released are the Xbox Series X and the PlayStation 5. However, there are some gamers who just love to play console games of the past. There have been many great consoles released from the early 1980s to the present day. Some of the most popular retro consoles throughout the years including PlayStation, Dreamcast and Sega Saturn.

Whether it’s arcade games or console games, some gamers strive to replay retro games again and again to beat high-scores and beat their time for completing the game. From Donkey Kong to Super Mario, here is an insight into some of the games that have been popular with competitive gamers and speedrunners.


The King Of Kong

The King of Kong is a documentary about competitive arcade gaming that was released in 2007. The film centers around Steve Weibe who sets out to take on the high-score record for the game Donkey Kong. The record was currently set by Billy Mitchell in the 1980s, a record that stood for almost twenty-five years. The film brings another sway of nostalgia for retro gaming for old games from decades past. But, most of all, it highlights just how retro gaming is still popular today and the lengths that people will go to to create new high-scores.


Breaking Arcade Game High-Scores

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, arcade video games became popular in shopping malls, movie theatres, bars. In amusement arcades, people could also go and play them alongside pinball machines, merchandisers, and other coin-operated games. Some arcades also provided slot machines for 18+ players to gamble on too. While arcade slot machines are still present today, many players can also now visit an online casino for slot games too.

Just like in The King Of Kong, there are many retro arcade games that gamers strive to beat the high-score on. Twin Galaxies have a list of TG records that have been achieved on a variety of games consoles and video games. For example, the Pac-Man arcade game number one rank is currently held by five people (1999, 2000, 2004, 2005, 2009) who all earned 3,333,360 points on the game. Some of the most popular retro-vintage arcade classics from gaming’s golden age include:

Pac-Man (1980)
Space Invaders (1978)
Street Fighter (1991)
Donkey Kong (1981)


The Speedrunner Revolution

Sometimes we all want to get through a game fast; to take it all in and get to the next level. Some game releases include ‘Time Attack’ or ‘Time Trial’ modes where players can challenge themselves to beat their completion times, whether it’s a certain level or the entire game. For games that didn’t have these dedicated time modes, a fast playthrough is instead commonly known as a speedrun.

Anybody who considers themselves to be a hardcore gamer will know about speedruns. Speedrunning involves playing a game with the intention of completing it as fast as possible. This could be the whole game, or certain sections of the game. More competitive players known as ‘speedrunners’ often record their attempts. The community originated from discussion forums in the late 1990s, where first-person shooters were discussed about the fastest routes and strategies.

Later on, as speedrunning became more popular, specific video games became associated with the theme. Usually, players speedrun to challenge themselves, but to also entertain others, and compete with other gamers.


Retro Games Are Favoured For Speed Running

As shown in The King Of Kong documentary, retro games have been popular with speedrunners for years, and for a very good reason. Most modern games have a role playing element, which means there is gradual progression, cut scenes, and so forth which can make speed running a little dull. However, blasting through retro games is a little more player intensive. People can time their runs down to the frame, which is something that is tricky (and boring) to do with modern games. Over the years there have been some video games that have become notable for speedrunning.

Super Mario series

In this video game series, there are a wide range of titles that people still speedrun to this day. Super Mario World, and Super Mario 64 are just some of the games that have speedrunning records. Super Mario Bros, released in 1985 for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), became one of the most popular to play due to its short length. The fastest time so far was made by a runner in January 2020 who finished in under five minutes.

The Legend of Zelda series

Other retro games that are also favoured by speedrunners are from The Legend of Zelda franchise. The original 1986 game and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998) are just some of the most popular. Documented on, runner LackAttack24 holds the record for 100% on the original game, completing it in just under 35 minutes.


Retro Gaming Just Doesn’t Give Up

You have to admit that retro gaming is now as popular as ever. Sony, Steam and Microsoft feature the Mega Drive pack, where people are able to play 32 of the oldest games, not to mention the SNES devices people can buy with old games already programmed into them. The GoldenEye remaster was completed recently, as were the remakes of Doom, Final Fantasy 7, Streets of Rage, and Resident Evil. Plus, every retro game, from PacMan to Tetris has been upgraded and is now on the major platforms along with a range of games from the 1990s.

What is most telling is just how popular these games are. The PacMan Championship game may have altered a lot about the original game, but it is world renowned with people competing all the way from South Korea, and with people still competing for world leader boards on old Mario games and Mario remasters. It is not just that retro gaming is suddenly popular, it is that it still comes with such a dedicated fan base and fanfare.



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