If you’re a fan of video games, and have been around the internet a few times, you’ve more than likely heard of speedrunning. Speedrunning is the act of completing full games, individual levels, or particular tasks within video games in the shortest amount of time possible. It’s quite common for people to look up speedruns of their favorite games, or of games they have just finished playing, to see them get absolutely torn apart by the world’s top players. Others may be looking up speedruns because they want to get into speedrunning themselves. If you’ve done this, there’s a good chance you’ve seen the term “Any%” in a video title, but what does it mean? In this article, we’ll explain exactly what Any% means.
Any% in speedruns means to reach the end credits of a video game as fast as possible, with any percentage of the intended gameplay completed.
With that explained, it may leave you wondering how is this different from any other speedrun? The main takeaway is that Any% runs do not typically have restrictions or requirements.
What is Any%?
Any%, in simplest terms, is the act of completing a game in the shortest time possible by any means necessary, while achieving any percentage of the game’s total completion. Generally speaking, nothing vanilla is off-limits in these types of speedruns, and this category often results in the most broken-looking speedruns on the leaderboards. It’s not uncommon for speedrunning communities to rename “Any%” to something else for their particular game, and we’ll cover a few examples further down. With that said, whichever category is the fastest for a game will often double as Any%.
A 100% speedrun requires you to complete a game to its fullest extent, including every side quest, every collectible, etc. Any% speedruns will bypass most, if not all of the extra content, as the goal is to trigger the game’s end with the lowest time on the board. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that Any% runs just stick to the main path from game’s start to game’s finish. In fact, they often don’t.
Not just for Any%, but for any category, this guide will show you how to find the world record in any video game!
Examples of Any% Speedruns in the Wild
So what might an Any% speedrun include? Let’s consider a few extreme examples. Pokémon is among the most commonly speedran series. Both Pokémon Yellow and Pokémon Red/Blue have Any% world records clocking in at around 1 minute, 18 seconds. Fans of the series are probably scratching their heads right about now; how can someone beat an entire Pokémon game in under two minutes? In these Any% speedruns, game-destroying glitches are on the table!
In Pokémon Yellow’s Any% speedrun, runners will purposely execute a save corruption. This is done by saving, quickly resetting the Gameboy, then hitting a four-frame window A press shortly after. Back in the game, players will do some completely illegible item swaps in the menu, resulting in a glitch that warps them to Hall of Fame and ends the game. This is incredibly oversimplified, but should help shed some light on the game abuse allowed in an Any% speedrun. When it comes to completing the game in the fastest time possible, you need to cut some corners — or in this case, all the corners.
Arbitrary Code Execution (ACE), The King of All Glitches
Often included in Any% speedruns is an incredibly sought-after glitch across countless games.
Arbitrary code execution (ACE) is an exploitation of game code, in which players manipulate a game’s code into misinterpreting itself, often with the goal of initiating the end-game sequence early.
Two of the most famous examples include The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Super Mario World, both of which have ACE setups that allow players to trigger the end game cutscenes early. This exploitation of code allows speedrunners to avoid “normal” gameplay. Instead the speedrunners will be seen performing a series of bizarre, seemingly random in-game actions and triggering the final credits. Ocarina of Time’s record currently sits at 6 minutes, 49 seconds, while Super Mario World’s record is a short 41 seconds.
To a casual viewer, something like the Ocarina of Time ACE will make absolutely zero sense. It’s important to note that Any% speedruns don’t always cater to casual viewers. Back in the day, before ACE was discovered, runners still had to reach the end-game and defeat Ganon in order to trigger the credits. While this route still involved major glitches like the infamous “wrong warp”, in which the player tricks an early-game portal into warping them to the wrong place (Ganon’s castle), the route was still more followable to a casual observer.
When ACE came along and blew that route’s time out of the water, that old route didn’t die, but it was instead separated to its own leaderboard. The old “Any%” simply became the “Defeat Ganon” category, continues to be competitive to this day, and all of the old runs were moved to that leaderboard. Any% then became absolutely dominated by ACE runs, as when completing the game by any means necessary, ACE is the undisputed most efficient route.
When Any% Isn’t Called Any%
As a note worth hitting, the Any% route we’re about to dive into is a little different, as it isn’t labeled Any% on the leaderboards. This is the case in many games, but in this case we’re looking at Super Mario World on Super Nintendo. Any% in SMW is called “0-Exit”. This is to stay consistent with the “96-exit” and “11-exit” categories that the game also uses, which require players to reach 96 level exits (all of them) and 11 level exits (the minimum intended to be required by the developers) respectively. The ACE route takes place entirely on the first level, without even a single level completion, hence “0-Exit”. In a similar vein, Super Mario 64’s Any% category is “0 Star”, as opposed the “120 Star” (all stars) and “70 Star” (minimum intended) categories.
While these speedruns are most commonly known by their leaderboard category names (0-Exit and 0 Star), some speedrunners will use the term Any% interchangeably.
One of the most common difficulties for speedrunners are audio issues while livestreaming. That’s why we’ve written a guide to resolving audio issues in OBS.
This is where it can get a kind of tricky for new speedrunners and viewers alike. While Any% is usually the fastest speedrun category, some speedrunning communities opt for a different approach.
As a general rule, Any% is the baseline of a game’s speedrun. It is the fastest, most concise speedrun, with all of the glitches, in a free-for-all of speed! However, sometimes a glitch is so game-breaking or unpopular, that the speedrun community agrees to a different naming convention. ACE is the most common example for this exception to the standard categorization approach.
Because ACE is so far removed from a standard gameplay experience, some games will split their Any% speedruns into two or more categories. Typically, whatever slows the speedrun down is what gets included in the category name, such as “Any% No Wrong Warps”. But this is not always the case.
In a speedrun that allows everything except for wrong warps (WW), it may initially sound logical for the category to be labelled as “Any% (No WW)”. Sometimes there are very few Any% speedruns on a leaderboard because of an unpopular, or totally game-breaking trick like wrong warps. If the same game features many “Any% (No WW)” speedruns, to simplify the most commonly referenced speedrun, the speedrun community for that game may agree on a different naming convention. In cases like this, instead of Any% being the fastest speedrun category for the game, Any% (WW) would be faster.
While Any% (ACE) is still technically Any%, this naming convention can save speedrunners from confusing conversations around requirements and restrictions. Additionally, this approach may help viewers of the speedrun understand that this “Any%” is the main Any% category for the game.
Any Doesn’t Always Mean Lowest
Sometimes, speedruns could be faster with certain items collected or in-game tasks completed. It is worth mentioning that you may stumble across a Low% speedrun. Low% is when a speedrun completes a game with the lowest percentage of the game complete. For example, Contra on the original Nintendo features both an Any% and a Low%. In the Any% speedrun, speedrunners simply complete the game as fast as possible. For Low%, speedrunners must not grab any item pickups.
In other games, completing dungeons or collecting items that could be skipped may prove to actually be faster. In these cases, speedrunners will complete the dungeons or collect the items leading to the fastest game completion time. While in a Low% run, even though it is faster, the speedrunner’s goal is to complete the game with the lowest known possible percentage of the game complete.
Wrapping Up Any%
In the simplest terms, in Any%, anything goes. This tends to make for the fastest possible speedruns. Any% speedruns include game-breaking glitches, the use of multiple controllers, out of bounds, and plenty more. Specific communities may put rules into place for their own games, such as “no console commands” or “no turbo controllers”, but as far as straight gameplay is concerned, runners can go nuts and break the game apart as they please!