Awesome Games Done Quick continues to blast along with several great speedruns, some of the best of which have involved a certain blue hedgehog. The “Sonic Block” featured numerous Sonic games and a look at how speedrunners manage to make Sega’s mascot go even faster.
There were a total of five games played during the Sonic Block of AGDQ 2019, including Sonic Mania Plus, Sonic Rush, and the fan-made Sanic Ball. Two runs stole the show; they offered a look at Sonic’s past and future, respectively. They were Dr. Fatbody’s raucous Sonic the Hedgehog run and a glitch-heavy Sonic Forces run by thebluemania.
Dr. Fatbody’s run, like many speedruns, features high speeds and difficult glitches. It was also done with a mixture of casual bragging and high-energy crowd participation that really made it stand out. Many runs often have an unofficial policy of “quiet time,” where a runner can ask that the audience keep noise to a minimum as they perform a difficult trick. Dr. Fatbody’s run explicitly had no quiet time and involved attempting risky tricks without much warning.
“We’re doing the opposite of usual marathon runs,” Dr. Fatbody says. “If something is scary, I want you to get loud.”
Among these “scary” tricks were a handful of “zips,” which are strange movement glitches that can move Sonic directly through a level’s hazards at high speed. Dr. Fatbody attempted all of them regardless of the difficulty. In one instance, he attempted a trick that requires perfect timing but still only works around 16% of the time. It did not work. In another, he tried a zip that can crash the entire game. He succeeded. Many runs would skip these tricks in an attempt to be “marathon safe,” but there’s no such restraint here. Each attempt and success was met with loud cheers from the crowd.
Throughout the run, Dr. Fatbody regaled the crowd with stories about playing Sonic as a kid with his brother, as well as how he got into speedrunning. He also broke down his technique and offered all kinds of shoutouts to friends and fans. He also found time to thank his parents.
“Shout outs to my mum and dad for getting busy one December night, you know what I’m saying,” he quipped. The run finishes with a time of 20 minutes, 42 seconds.
The other standout speedrun was a Sonic Forces run by thebluemania. Sonic has changed throughout the years, with “modern” versions emphasising raw speed over the older games’ platforming. Sonic Forces mixes and matches both styles into a game that’s perfect fodder for speedrunners. Runner thebluemania played through Forces while dressed head to toe in Sonic merchandise and while using a variety of tactics to break the game apart.
Some of these methods were straightforward. Sonic Forces allows players to create customised characters with special gear that helps them get through levels. One special item is the Drill, which allows players to rush forward at high speeds. Normally, you have to wait a while to unlock it, but Forces also allows you to temporarily use other players’ customised characters. Doing this allowed thebluemania to use the drill much earlier than intended, saving tons of time.
Forces lets players go really, really fast. If you know when and where to jump, you can leap with so much momentum and travel so much distance that you can skip over cutscenes or fall through most of a level. As a result, thebluemania’s run alternates between a few different modes. Classic Sonic stages require precision platforming, custom character stages have clever item use, and modern Sonic stages rely on the protagonist’s incredible speed to run up walls and leap over huge sections of the game. There’s something here for everyone to enjoy, although fans of Force’s character customisation will be dismayed to know that thebluemania loses a lot of time thanks to Force’s tendency to hand out cosmetic items after the end of each level. The speedy run clocks in at 58 minutes and 15 seconds.
There’s something particularly devlish about watching speedruns that both push Sonic to the limit and capture the hedgehog’s carefree boasting. This year’s Sonic Block did Sonic proud with fast times, great glitches and, of course, a wonderful sense of attitude.