There are many reasons why a speedrun may never come into existence. For example, a one-handed, blindfolded speedrun of Hugo II: Whodunit? 93.6% might be too much of a niche speedrun to ever interest anyone. Though, I was pleasantly surprised someone is has speedran Any%! However, to avoid runs which won’t happen due to an assumed lack of interest, for this article we’re going to be focusing on speedruns which are unlikely or maybe even impossible out of reasons related to difficulty. Furthermore, we will be focusing on the various ways difficulty can play a role when it comes to speedrunning. With that said…
Here’s a list of 4 unlikely or maybe even impossible speedruns!
For the first speedrun we’ll be discussing, we’re going to look at difficulty in speedrunning at the most basic level… that would be the difficulty of completing a speedrun at all. You can’t complete a speedrun, if the game itself has never been completed. As shocking as it may sound, nobody has ever beat Wave Race.
Wave Race Any%
I know what you’re thinking — “Hey, that’s not true. I’ve beat Wave Race!” Well, good for you champ, but we’re not talking about Wave Race 64 — as much as we adore that game and it’s incredible ’90s synthwave (no pun intended) soundtrack. The original Wave Race was on the Nintendo Game Boy, released in North America in 1992 and in Europe in 1997 (LUL). As far as we know, this game has never been completed.
Wave Race is significantly more challenging than its more popular older sibling, Wave Race 64. There is no footage of this game being completed on the internet, and I haven’t even found claims of such an accomplishment. Even the walkthroughs and guides seem to be missing something…
Wave Race starts off offering 2 options of gameplay — Circuit Mode or Slalom Mode. Both game modes start you off on the National Series with multiple speeds — 550cc, 650cc, and 800cc. After completing these three speeds, you will get a little cutscene, and then the World Series opens up. This is when things get real. Once again, you’ll go through 550cc, 650cc, 800cc… at least on Slalom Mode.
The Circuit Mode is the Mode of the game which has never been completed. Being that Slalom Mode feels more like a mini-game, I would consider completing World Series in Circuit Mode completion of the game. I personally gave Wave Race a shot and found things to go fairly smoothly. I finished all of Slalom Mode without any issue, and the Circuit Mode’s 800cc in the Nationals was a cute challenge. When you move on to the World Series, however, it’s a whole new beast.
I was able to beat 550cc somewhat quickly and, after a 14 hour grind (for what’s only about a 15-20 minute completion), I was able to finish 650cc. Once you’re familiar enough with the difficulty curve, you know that 800cc is going to absolutely brutal — if even possible. I gave it a fair shot. Perhaps about 24 hours without even getting in the ballpark before deciding to try my hand at TASing it. Somewhere between the way the game controls with a delayed momentum-based turn system, the insane rubberbanding effect of the enemies, and only having TASed one other game… I just couldn’t do it. If I had even so much as found a single claim that someone has beat this, it wouldn’t have made the list of potentially impossible speedruns!
So, what do you think? Are you up to the challenge to prove me wrong? As bounty, I’ll guarantee that I’ll beat it on a live stream over on the Twitch channel if anyone can prove this is humanly possible, whether as a TAS or actual completion!
Wave Race, like most Game Boy speedruns, is usually done on a Super Nintendo, with a Super Game Boy 2 (which runs at the same speed as original Game Boy hardware, unlike the original Super Game Boy). Amazon links below, if you’d like to give it a shot. Alternatively, emulation is accepted on the leaderboards.
Other than sheer difficulty, what else could make a speedrun unlikely?
I Wanna be the Boshy Deathless
I’m one of the few fans of I Wanna be the Boshy who believes it is possible to get a deathless run. With as far as we’ve taken speedruns of Boshy since its release, I can’t imagine that nobody would ever be able to finish it deathless in the next 10,000 plus years. First playthroughs, you will most definitely spend tens of thousands of lives getting through it, the lowest death count since its release is down to just 10, achieved by BBF during his world record. So it seems possible, right? But the question is, would anyone actually do it? Is there incentive enough?
The problem here is that Boshy is already loaded with enough challenge to satisfy anyone casually playing through it (my first playthrough took me 54 hours), and any speedrunner who’s good enough to grind out a deathless run would much rather spend their time competing for actual placement on the leaderboards. That’s how it’s been so far, and there’s no signs of any change in that.
In order to get a deathless run, you’d most likely not attempt to beat any of the times on the leaderboards, because you’d instead take things at a slower pace. For example, instead of going for the notorious Kirby Skip in world 2, you’d lure Kirby out, run backwards, wait for Kirby to pass over you, then continue on your merry way. This is just one of possibly hundreds of changes which would need to be made to the run — and even then, deathless Boshy would be a near impossible gaming achievement. It’s a far from optimal approach to speedruns, but would greatly reduce the number of attempts it would take to actually achieve a deathless run. Ultimately, this speedrun is unlikely because speedrunners would opt out of the many granny strats and try to improve their personal bests or the current world record.
Okay, but how about a more popular game?
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening 100% No Restrictions
Of all the speedruns mentioned in this article, I’d say this is maybe the most likely — but it’s a great, broad example of speedruns that might never see the light of day.
Back a couple years ago, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX (the Game Boy Color version of Link’s Awakening) was routed for what turned out to be one of the most heavy glitch-expedition speedruns I’ve ever seen — 100% No Restrictions. It features pretty much everything you could ever expect from a glitched speedrun. Honestly, if you thought OoT was broken, Link’s Awakening probably has it beat — simply because how easy it is to break. For example, to activate invincibility anywhere in the game, you pretty much just use your hookshot on anything within a tile of you. The world record for any% in the original Link’s Awakening is 1 minute and 21 seconds, by Global-Trance, if that puts things in perspective.
The LADX (Game Boy Color Link’s Awakening) 100% no restrictions run starts off as most Link’s Awakening speedruns, getting out of the house as quickly as possible, avoiding those pesky quadruplets, and heading to the beach to get your sword. As soon as the sword is acquired, things start to get weird. A specific kill count on enemies will be required on your way off the beach, because your kill count will determine which layout you get when you enter the glitch world known as Dog House. Probably about 75% of the run is spent in the dog house, which you can get to by simply touching the top of the hitbox of any entrance in the overworld.
Even outside of the dog house, in the overworld, you wont see much familiar gameplay. The speedrunners activate a state which removes collision from nearly everything allowing you to free-roam the world, so long as you don’t travel down a screen. Transitioning down hardlocks the game, and it’s both hilarious and terrifying how close you have to boots dash towards a downward transition while dealing with enemy RNG.
Oh boy, so much worth mentioning — the reason the enemy movement matters is because in the overworld, if you kill 89 enemies without entering a door, you get a free tunic upgrade depending on the the index number of the 89th enemy you’ve killed. Along with the tunic upgrade, you’ll get some pictures (required for 100%) in your photo album from killing enemies number 86 and 87. Along this massive slaughter of 89 enemies, dungeon keys and seashells are collected, so it makes for an interesting watch. Especially being that the game is so glitched out that it replaces the enemy sprites with sprites of your dearest friend Marin, so it often appears that Link is on a Marin massacre.
The reality is though, is that this run saves Marin! Even though it’s not required, this category gets the good ending from being completed without a death — so in the credits you’ll see Marin turn back into her seagull form and fly away, embracing her ability to soar the skies and experience the freedom of flight over the vast seas of the Zelda universe!
Okay, now that you’ve got some insight on just how wild this speedrun can be, you might be able to understand how difficult it is to route.
Here’s where the problem lies with this speedrun and why we may never see its entrance to the leaderboards — at least not in a way that can be firmly optimized without agonizing out of bounds exploration, theory crafting, and what would probably be thousands of hours of testing. The game, I believe, has about 27 possible dog house layouts, entrances to the dog house sprinkled everywhere through the overworld, and 2 underworld maps which have a complex series of systems connecting all the dungeons and caves.
But hasn’t that already been routed for Link’s Awakening DX?
Yes, but every new variable that comes into play has a potential to add massive amounts of work to routing a category. The original Link’s Awakening has a few extra issues which would be tremendous variables to try implementing. Screen warps are the first to come to mind. On every single screen transition in the game, you can simple press select, and you will screen warp. Not only does this screen warp Link, it also can pull some sprites into the wrong screen. This alone is enough to scare me FAR away from touching this category. Furthermore, Arbitrary Code Execution (ACE) to trigger the final cutscene of the game is way more stable in the original version. Sorting out all of the thousands of lines of code being influenced by collecting all the items required in 100% to somehow wiggle ACE into the run would take extremely deep investigatory work from people who really have a deep understanding of the game at its core. And I don’t even want to think about how a frame perfect trick known as Instrument Cutscene Skip (ICS) would influence the run.
If someone actually routes this, it will either be done in a not-so-optimal way, or they are an absolute genius wasting time routing Link’s Awakening when they should be out solving world hunger and curing cancer, while finishing up their 8th Ph.D. In the end, this speedrun may not be around, simply because routing it would be too great a challenge for anyone sane individual.
Now, there’s one last speedrun that comes to mind which could be labelled as impossible.
Atari 2600’s Dragster 5.51
… Nah, just kidding. But there really is one more reason in this article as to why speedruns may not come into fruition.
Final Fantasy 6 “True” 100%
This reason is far too common, and FF6 is a gleaming example of it. Speedrun categories which generally can’t be agreed upon because it’s challenging to define. If the game doesn’t directly tell you what 100% means, it may never be happily agreed upon by all parties.
To clarify, in Final Fantasy 6, there have been 100% speedruns which required all espers and characters, but none of which stand on the Speedrun.com leaderboards — and none of which satisfied the whole community and fans of the speedruns. Currently, according to some members of the FFVI community, the closest thing to a “true” 100% speedrun is a recent project of Cordellium‘s. But even still, this run features a few trade-offs, because you can’t collect everything in some scenarios. For example, you cannot get both Ragnorock Esper and a sword, so you have to choose between one or the other. Granted, if this was a glitched run, it may be possible. There are also unused bosses in the game, which you can use some glitches to fight, but would those really be required for 100%? Some people will say yes, some will say no.
“True” 100% is a touchy topic, so I wont go into it much further. At the end of the day, the categories and speedruns come down to what the community decides it to be in a general consensus, and the outliers will have to accept the agreement or make a new category of their own.
So, here we have it. 4 impossible or unlikely speedruns.
- Wave Race Any% — Currently understood to be humanly impossible to complete, and not a speedrun due to sheer difficulty.
- I Wanna be the Boshy Deathless — Those good enough to achieve a deathless run, would rather opt for placement on the leaderboards or race for a world record.
- The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening 100% No Restriction — A speedrun that’s just outright insane to route.
- Final Fantasy 6 “True” 100% — Though I’m looking forward to seeing some 100% speedruns by Cordellium, the problem of trying to define a category and getting everyone to agree is a real problem throughout many speedgames.
I would love to see these put to the test. Do you think you can do the impossible? Give it a go and let me know about it!
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What speedruns do you know that may be impossible or at least very unlikely?