What TAS Means (Tool-Assisted Speedrun)
To launch things off, let’s do a quick overview of what makes a TAS different from a normal speedrun. A TAS run uses special tools to manipulate the game in a way that is impossible for real-time speedrunners (RTA). A TAS has access to save states and frame-by-frame advancing or rewinding. This means that the TASer (the person who creates the TAS) can choose exactly which inputs to perform on every single frame of the game and use save states to go back and correct any mistakes. In a sense, this means a TAS run could be theoretically perfect. Every known strategy and trick is implemented to perfection.
In short: A TAS is a Tool-Assisted Speedrun. TAS use save states, fast-forward, rewind, and any other tools available to showcase a perfect and/or entertaining speedrun.
Perfection isn’t always the goal, however. A great TAS still requires two things to shine. The first is that any tool-assisted run is only going to be as good as the strategies available at the time. There are always going to be faster strategies yet to be discovered, and many old TAS speedruns end up being slower than new world records because of new strategies that get discovered. The second key factor is the skill and dedication of the person making the TAS. If the person behind the TAS didn’t put enough time and effort in, the quality and speed of the TAS will suffer. It should also be noted, that “theory TAS” may only be using strategies and tricks that are RTA-viable. There are various levels of TAS perfection, and likewise many different intentions behind the creation of any given TAS.
The tool-assisted speedruns in the list below are all made by quality TAS makers. They are also quite recent in terms of release date, so all of these TAS runs destroy what the current world record is for each category. Of course, every run in this list is an interesting watch, even if you haven’t played the game before. With that out of the way, let’s get right into some of the best TAS speedruns available for you to watch!
There can be Tool-Assisted Speedruns of any speedrun category, whether it’s 100%, glitchless, or even just Any%.
# 7 Spyro: Year of the Dragon 117%
Spyro: Year of the Dragon. This is one of my all-time favorite video games. The goal is easy enough to understand, rescue all 150 dragon eggs, get all 20,000 gems, and defeat the evil sorceress. If that sounds like a lot to do in a run, you’d be right. The world record for this category stands at 2 hours and 56 minutes. This TAS was released six years before the current world record and still saves 30 minutes on it. I tried to find more recent TAS runs to talk about here, but this is a special one. The run makes use of amazing glitches and was meticulously routed to near perfection. But what sets this run apart from many of the others is the commentary that comes with it. Nitrofski, the “TASer”, teams up with Saboom, known for being the best Spyro speedrunner of all time. This makes the commentary on the run very informative. Whether or not you have experience playing Spyro games, this is still a great run to watch. They will fully explain all of the tricks and time saves in the run. I remember watching them reveal this run live on Twitch seven years ago. It’s hard to believe it was seven years ago that I watched this TAS live for the first time. It was an amazing TAS back then, and still stands the test of time thanks to the effort put in and the great commentary.
# 6 Sonic 3 & Knuckles Ring Attack
This is by far the most unique TAS run on this list. Instead of going for the fastest completion of the game, this run aims to collect every single ring across all 12 stages. This is called Ring Attack. The run offers an interesting perspective on the classic 2D Sonic Game. Many speedruns and TAS’s end up breaking the game and turning it into a glitch fest. Sometimes you won’t even get to see too much of the actual gameplay. That is not the case for this run. This run explores every nook and cranny in the entire game to find and collect every single ring. You will get to see everything that Sonic and Knuckles have to offer. To make it even more interesting, Sonic and Tails are both controlled by the TAS here, allowing for some cool routes and tricks to be performed with both players. Finally, this run uses a mudded version of the game to zoom the screen out. This gives you full vision of the layout of the level and helps you understand the pathing better. You can see everything that happens off-screen as well. Many times Tails is off-screen gathering rings or setting up for an epic flight trick in the distance. The author does mention there are a few bugs with the zoomed-out camera, but I still think that this is the best run of any classic Sonic game and is definitely a must-watch.
#5 Trackmania TAS’s
Of course, I have to talk about Trackmania. But for a really good reason. TAS tools for Trackmania Nations Forever have only just been made this year. Many different players and TAS makers have come to this game recently to explore what these tools can do to the world’s most competitive racing game. In classic TAS fashion, the game ended up being completely broken. These runs are great fun to watch even if you don’t play the game. The glitches are crazy and watching the cars go flying through the maps is pretty funny. As of now, there is no full game TAS run yet because the tools are so new. Instead, most people are posting montages of individual-level TAS runs. Some of these are on official campaign tracks, and people are even making runs on custom player-made tracks. While the game is more than 10 years old, the recent addition of the TAS tools has led to never before seen tricks being discovered. This includes the very new nose-boost glitch, which lets the car build up insane amounts of speed by drifting while the nose is touching the ground.
#4 Super Mario 64
I wasn’t sure if I should add Super Mario 64 to the list, but in the end, there was no other choice. The TAS for this game is just too nutty. The newest “1 key” TAS run breaks the game even further. No stars are even collected, and the game is cleared in just over 4 minutes. The TAS saves 2 minutes and 11 seconds on the current world record, which is insane for a run that’s only a few minutes long. The new strategy to skip the first boss was theorized for a long time in the community but was only made possible a few months ago with this TAS. Is this new TAS the limit for classic Mario, or will there be another new trick that breaks the game again? Time will tell, but until then this stands as one of the all-time best TAS runs in one of the greatest speedrunning games of all time.
#3 Super Monkey Ball 2 – Story Mode
Where do I even begin with Super Monkey Ball 2? The game is a physics-based platformer with only one goal, reach the goal ring in all 100 stages as fast as possible. This Story mode TAS plays through every level at incredible speeds. The run is very fast-paced and exciting to watch. The game doesn’t really rely on any big glitches, just extreme precision at high speeds. This TAS saves about three minutes on the current world record. For a game that is already as optimized as this one, three minutes is a huge time saver to have when there are no TAS only glitches. Just sit back and enjoy some ridiculous Monkey Ball shenanigans, no experience with the game is required to enjoy this one.
Have you ever seen a speedrun so impressive, you would’ve been able to believe that it actually was a TAS? That’s exactly how it feels watching this INSANE Kamilia 3 World Record.
#2 Sonic Heroes – Team Sonic
I needed to put up a 3D Sonic game onto this list. I wanted to post about Sonic Adventure 2, one of my favorite games to speedrun. Unfortunately, the only full game TAS for that game is several years old and actually loses to the current world record. It didn’t feel right to put up an outdated TAS, so I had to search for another Sonic game. While searching the TAS videos rabbit hole on YouTube, I found a very recent video for Sonic Heroes, with full commentary. As soon as the run starts it’s clear how broken this game is. Just moving around has a special TAS-only strategy. This run is filled with awesome glitches and really high speeds. The commentary is a little bland, but super informative. Every trick is explained in detail and it makes watching the run a lot of fun. The TAS saves 10 minutes on the current world record. This is definitely a hidden gem in the TAS realm.
#1 Pikmin – 50 Pikmin 6 Day Challenge
Many TAS runs are known for pure speed and crazy glitches. This Pikmin run takes a step back from that and still manages to shave 30 minutes off the world record time. Pikmin has always been a relaxing game, and this run is no different. It doesn’t aim for just the fastest possible time, but instead puts restrictions on itself. The run is only allowed to grow 50 total Pikmin and must complete the game within six in-game days. This alone is an impossible feat that has never been performed in an RTA run. What makes this run special is the incredible amount of detail and effort that was put into making the route that makes the run possible. If you’re looking for a chill and relaxing TAS, this is the perfect run for you. I do recommend starting this run from the seven-minute mark because the first stage is not very interesting and exactly the same as an RTA run.
There’s a large community of TAS video makers out there, and most of your favorite games probably already have great TAS videos to find. The following website is a great place to find TAS videos of many different games not on this list. (http://tasvideos.org/Movies.html) Many of the strategies first found from TAS tools were considered impossible to do in an actual run, but as time goes on TAS only strategies find their way into actual speedruns. Many world record runs have strategies that were discovered not by the speedrunners, but by the people behind the scenes working with tool-assisted runs.
Sam Rowe is a competitive fighting game player, has been a speedrunner for 12+ years, and mostly speedruns Sega Genesis era classics. You can find Sam using their gamer tag: InceptionKitten