Getting Started

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is speedrunning?

When you speedrun a game you try and beat it as fast as you can without cheating.

What do you consider cheating?

Using Game Genie/GameShark/Action Replay or improperly inserting a cartridge to alter gameplay. We also don't allow using turbo controllers, the exception being that we allow turbo controllers that officially come with the system (like the TurboGrafx-16).

What game can I speedrun?

Just about any game! There are a few exceptions. Not every game is fit for speedrunning. A game has to have a definite ending, so a game like The Sims or World of Warcraft doesn't qualify. Additionally, it's impossible to speed up some games. Fixed autoscrollers or rhythm games, for instance, are generally not allowed, because speedruns would not be any faster than normal playthroughs.

How do I choose which game to speedrun?

Choose a game that you like! Pick a game that you will be willing to put the time and effort into. Some games that are easy to play through normally are very hard to speedrun and vice versa. There are other games that are hard to play through and hard to speedrun. Speedrunning requires a lot of effort. You should pick a game that you'll be willing to play hundreds or even thousands of times in attempt to get a good speedrun.

Can I do a speedrun on an emulator?

You're more than welcome to practice your games on emulator or stream your attempts. If you'd like to submit your speedrun to SDA, it can't be on emulator. Speedruns that are recorded on an emulator (ZSNES, Snes9x, Dolphin, etc.) will not be accepted. There are exceptions. Some emulators are considered "officially sanctioned". The Nintendo Virtual Console is an example of an officially sanctioned emulator. The virtual console emulates multiple systems on the Wii.

What's all this that I keep hearing about categories?

Most games have more than one category for a speedrun. With a few examples, you can see the need for this very quickly. In the Legend of Zelda A Link to the Past it is possible to glitch through the game in under two minutes. While glitching out of bounds may be the fastest method to complete the game, a speedrun of this kind is devoid of the skill and execution most people would like to see taking on bosses and finding unique ways to complete dungeons. As such speedruns where you glitch through walls like this are put into a separate category as speedruns that don't. Just what are the categories?

There are two main sets of categories: the single-segment and segmented categories, and the completion percentage categories. Most runs will be either single-segment or segmented and have a completion percentage.

Single Segment Speedruns that beat a game in one sitting without loading save files or quitting are single-segment runs
Segmented If the player saves and then retries multiple parts of the game individually, the run is considered segmented.

Loading a save file is only permitted in single-segment runs for games or categories (such as New Game Plus) that require doing so to progress. Segmented runs are expected to be faster than single-segment runs in return for the ability to retry parts of the run multiple times; if a single-segment run is faster than a segmented run, the single-segment run will obsolete the segmented run (but not vice versa). For some level or track-based games, such as racers, segmented runs are replaced by an Individual Level table where the time for each track or level is displayed separately. If an individual level table does not exist for a game, the first submission of individual level runs must complete every race or level in that table's category.

There are also three completion percentage categories.

Any% Do whatever it takes to get to the end of the game as fast as possible
Low% Collect the minimum number of items and upgrades necessary to complete the game
100% Collect "everything" in the game

Any % can be considered the default category for a game. Regarding the low% category, what counts or doesn't count can be subjective, so check the low%/100% definition thread for more information. Note that the low% category does not restrict usage of items players are forced to obtain. For instance, Mega Man always collects a weapon after defeating each robot master or maverick in a Mega Man game. Since players are forced to collect these weapons, runs that do not use them when they would save time will be rejected. Lastly, since low% runs are defined by the number of items and upgrades they pick up, a run that picks up fewer collectibles will obsolete a run that collects more, even if the new run is slower as a result.

Finally, there is the 100% category, where players Collect "everything" in the game. As with low%, how to define 100% for any given game is subjective unless the game tracks percentage, and many games do not have a 100% category. Therefore, it is recommended to check the low%/100% definition thread and ask questions if necessary. We generally prefer concise, reasonable definitions (instead of "comprehensive" laundry lists) that allow for enough differentiation from the any% category. A good example is "all stages". A bad example is "all items" in an RPG. Do you need max of each? Mutually exclusive items? If we're getting all items, why not all skills? Max levels? And so on.

Some games are designed in such a way that multiple completion percentage categories may apply to the same run. For instance, skipping all optional items may be the fastest way through some games, while other games might require you to fulfill 100% conditions to beat them. In these cases, the overlapping categories are identical and such runs are treated as any% runs for simplicity. Some games like Link to the Past have a major game breaking glitch that warrants making a new category. We refer to this as large skip glitches.

How do I know what all the tricks and strategies are for each game?

There are plenty of resources to help you out. You should try and locate, watch, and analyze the current fastest speedrun for your game (if there is one). You should also read through any discussion of the speedrunning the game that you can find.

If you're trying to locate the fastest speedrun for your game, there is a good chance there is already be a posted speedrunof your game on SDA. You should definitely watch the posted run if you haven't already. Another resource you can use if you're trying to find the current fastest speedrun for your game is The Sunday Sequence Break link database.The Sunday Sequence Break is a speedrunning talk show has made an effort to document and link to videos of the latest fastest known times for games. This has been maintained since February of 2012.

People are always looking for new tricks and discovering new things about games so there may be some new strategies that people have discovered that aren't in the latest posted speedrun. You can visit the SDA Forum and use the search function to locate a topic for your game. If a topic does not exist for your game, you can create one. Another valuable resources is the Strategy Wiki. While a lot of games don't have an entry in the wiki yet, there will be a lot of information available for the games that do and what is in there will be very organized.

What kind of equipment do I need? How much does it cost?

You'll need your game console, a television, a computer, and some kind of recording device. For more details on equipment, check out the recording page.

Recording Devices

  • Video Capture Device
    • Standard Definition capture: $30-$80
    • High Definition capture: $80-$200
  • DVD Recorder: $75-$200


  • Unpowered Splitter $15 Cables (Composite only)
  • Powered Splitter $30-$80

Glossary of Terms

Are you wondering what words like RNG and Frame Perfect mean? The speedrunning community has been around for a little while and it's developed its own little vocabulary. Here is a brief explanation of what all of these terms mean.

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