The following article was submitted by Alexo (link to his Twitch channel). Speedrun News only formatted it for web, SEO, and did some copywriting necessities. If you’d like to see the run first, you can click here to be taken to the bottom of the page where you’ll see the video, otherwise, it’ll be there waiting for you when you’ve finished reading!
I had been aware of Doom speedruns for only a few years, but I have been playing Doom since 2003. I was raised on Quake II and beyond in the late ’90s, but discovered the classic ID library later. Doom on Nintendo’s Game Boy Advance was the first version of Doom I ever owned, followed by the Xbox 360 Arcade, and PC versions respectfully.
Doom is one of the oldest games with documented speedrun competition. For over 20 years, the common knowledge among gamers was how inferior in performance and speed, the console versions were to the PC port of the game. My entry into Doom speedrunning was the GBA port, in November of 2017. The controls are amazing, the visuals… you get used to. Its a hunk of junk, that goes fast — but it didn’t start that way.
This was a version of Doom that less then 5 other people had ever attempted to speedrun in any fashion, and I wanted to crack it wide open.
Some of the initial discoveries were looking at walls, and reducing area loaded on the screen (similar to Nintendo 64’s GoldenEye speedruns) — which would make the movement in game go faster. It was adopted to play with static lighting, which removes dynamic lighting effects in the levels to greatly improve frames and movement speed. By the end of November 2017, out of bounds had not been widely known online. Very few documentations of it existed anywhere — one Youtube video from years ago with less then 200 views. That was it. A TASer named Icy had discovered the glitch in the mid 2000’s, during a multiplayer match with a friend on Doom GBA, and was the one who let the console Doomers know about its potential in December of 2017.
This is considered the moment the speedrun floodgates opened for the game to be played faster than the PC version — breaking a 20 year stigma of common thought. Playing on higher difficulties, increases the damage Doom guy deals and takes. If you play on difficulty 2 or higher, obtain a rocket launcher and enough health and armor (106-112 damage depending on the splash damage), then place yourself in a 90 degree corner, backing into the corner with strafe and holding backwards. If you fire the rocket at the wall to your left or right, at the correct angle, the splash damage from the rocket will send you through the wall every time.
These glitches didn’t just change the Game Boy Advance version however, but an entire set of games.
The GBA version of Doom is based on the source code for the Atari Jaguar version, Released in 1994. Multiple versions of Doom use this source code as a basis, which means the glitches work across these Jaguar based ports. Eventually this would lead me to speedrunning 7 different ports of Doom in the next year. By the end of 2018, I became the Cross game record holder in Doom GBA. I had the fastest speedrun in Doom 32X, Jaguar, 3DO, GBA, and Xbox mostly uncontested. However, over the entire year of further optimization, the discovery was made of returning into a level without using another rocket, which became easily the hardest thing to do consistently.
The idea is to have Doom guy reach maximum speed to run through a wall while he is out of bounds. If you are enough distance away from the wall, or make the game pick up additional lag as you run into the wall at a proper angle, you can bypass entire sections, without sacrificing large amounts of health. it was also discovered you could delete walls in particular levels, by walking in certain places out of bounds. This was ultimately added to Level 12 which allows the player to complete a level, which generally takes longer than a minute, in less then 30 seconds.
All of these developments lead me to the final goal I had for the full game, I wanted to be the first person to finish it in less then 10 minutes. PC Doom has a TAS that finishes 4 Episodes in 9:46 IGT, but for RTA it would end up a bit longer. That is 32 levels. So reaching the Goal of 10 for 23 levels seemed possible in theory. The PC version had reached the realm of 13:40 or less by humans, but only included one out of bounds level. Doom GBA was working with over 10 levels with out of bounds, and within only a few months of the discovery, it became 3 minutes faster then the PC version.
In over three thousand attempts… it literally came down to getting the rocket angles memorized, the hope that returning into levels went smooth for each time it was required, and performing all the lag reduction strategies. I knew I had time to lose in some parts, and to just keep practicing and testing new things. Getting the void glides to return into levels, an undiscovered strategy before I started running the game, was the hardest part of it all. I was literally attempting what no one had considered, because it was all unknown for so long. Getting so many frame perfect things to happen in a single run was needed for the sub 10. Discovering Level 22, Limbo, could be finished in less then 30 seconds was a complete game changer.
But the strategy involved was almost suicide for runs at such a good pace in the ending levels.
You gather 200 health and armor in the level, use a rocket, then hope for a good void glide. You reach a room from out of bounds, which usually requires a yellow key to unlock a door, to click a switch. You Rocket out on the side the switch is on, click it from out of bounds, and preform the final void glide in the game to the exit area. The switch brings access to the exit, and is still required to finish. There is a set up to use 3 rockets, but a couple of lone enemies at the end of the level could kill you after you use the final rocket, ending a run from mere convenience. The void glides still have yet to be fully figured out internally, but from my own experience there are visual ques players will pick up on after practice.
Finishing the whole game in less then 10 minutes has really been a huge weight lifted, I finally feel satisfied with this speedrun. There were plenty of mistakes that could be fixed, but the fact so many other parts went so well, its unlikely I’ll see a time like this again for a while. I’m retired from the any% category, but will still be improving the Nightmare and No out of bounds categories in the future. My next goal is sub 3 Episode 3 Any%. With most of the console versions out of the way, I hope to have more focus on getting better times in the PC version. Eventually, I’ll have tutorials for the Full game produced, to help pass along all of the knowledge and discoveries to any future players looking to check the game out for speedrunning.
During this time of attempting to finish a speedrun in less then 10 minutes, there has built up a great little community of console Doom runners who specialize in particular versions. JRMHD91 inspired me to run Doom 32x, and was one of the initial runners of Doom GBA, submitting the first full game run. He currently is the only person to have finished Doom 32x on Nightmare. Teebee_303 set the oldest record in the game with a 5:01 Glitchless Episode 1. He is a well known Time Splitters and classic Atari game player, who played the second longest marathon of Asteroids in history. Depravity is another well known Console Doom player, who holds many of the lowest difficulty world records in the PC version of the game, and has been optimizing Doom Xbox and SNES Doom. ooMoomanoo was another console Doom player who holds the long standing full game world record in the Super Nintendo version, Submitted times for GBA, 3DO, and is one of the top players for PC lowest difficulty.
For all submitted times, check out my profile: https://www.speedrun.com/user/Alexo Thanks for the interest! 😀
Here’s the sub 10 minute Doom (Game Boy Advance) Speedrun:
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