Speedrunning is taking the world by storm!
Now, fans of RPGs can have a tough time breaking into the world of speedrunning, since, after all aren’t RPGs supposed to be about the journey?
Well, yes, of course!
But, speedrunning doesn’t invalidate casual runs.
In fact, it might be helpful to throw-out the notion that speedrunning is a race.
Speedrunning completely changes how players approach their favorite games, and you don’t have to be a pro to enjoy speedrunning either.
Rather than being some ultra-competitive e-sport, speedrunning RPGs is more about giving you a new way to experience the stories and game genres that you know and love.
If you’re new to speedrunning, or simply new to speedrunning the RPG genre, there are are a few important qualities to consider when choosing an RPG to speedrun:
The first important quality to consider when choosing an RPG to speedrun is time.
RPGs are normally very long, with many popular games taking up to 60hrs or more to complete for casual players.
Some RPGs take an immense amount of time per-run and you have to consider practice time to learn the strategies and optimize your runs. For this list, we’ll be looking at games that don’t
take too long to complete since that makes them easier to learn, on average.
Of course, you could always break up sessions during practice to make long games easier to learn, though that will disqualify your runs as you get better, so keep that in mind.
The second thing to consider when selecting the right RPG to speedrun is the amount of community support you will have with your chosen RPG.
Successful speedrunners tend to be super passionate about their favorite games; often pouring hundreds of hours into research and mathematically computing optimal routes.
The easiest games to learn will usually be those with good guides and active communities who will answer questions and support you during your journey.
The third thing to consider when selecting the right RPG to speedrun is how much you actually enjoy the game you choose.
Enjoyment is king, but speedruns can change how you view a game and your enjoyment of it. If you really love a particular game then that passion can keep you invested during your speedrun practice.
However, if you find yourself stressing or you are forcing yourself to practice, then that can hurt your enjoyment of casual runs. On the flip side, games that can be a pain casually can be really fun to speedrun because the nature of speedrunning removes some of the problems of the casual experience.
Don’t be afraid to play what you love, but don’t force yourself to speedrun.
If you’re losing interest then try something else. It’s all about fun at the end of the day.
The fourth thing to consider when selecting the right RPG to speedrun is the difficulty of the game.
Games that are easy causally might be super hard to speedrun due to difficult tricks, and, in some cases, hard games can be easier when speedran. Many of the most popular speedruns have incredibly complex tricks including arbitrary code execution, and frame-perfect inputs making them way too difficult for those just starting out.
Games like Super Mario 64, and Ocarina of Time are good goals to try-out once you’ve gotten the hang of speedrunning.
Of course, if you want to try them then by all means give them a go!
This list will be looking at games without tricks that make you want to pull your hair out.
Of course every game is just a suggestion.
If you want to begin speedrunning, try a game that is beginner friendly, but also try one of your favorite games!
- fast, completed in a little over an hour for some categories.
- Super popular with a large community of runners and resources
- A very unique base-game that you can enjoy when you’re not speedrunning
- An excellent sound track keeps runs entertaining
- RNG can be frustrating
- Button mashing can be tiring
- PC load times can impact runs
Disgaea 5:Alliance of Vengeance
- Available on PC, Switch, and PS4
- The strategy component is unique for many RPGs
- Tons of style and memorable characters
- Fast completion time
- speedrunning optimal tactics can lessen the achievement of beating the game casually
- Not available for XboxOne users
- Gamers who dislike anime may not enjoy the art-style and voice acting.
- Easy to learn
- Great, welcoming community
- Fast run-time
- PS1 can be annoying to buy, and you will need extra cables to play on contemporary monitors.
- Graphics may be sub-par for many
- Short runs once you get the hang of them.
- Various different games means that skills transfer.
- Bragging rights.
- Bonfires give you the option to set up check-points to make runs less punishing.
- Available on PC and consoles
- Still has a steeper learning curve than other entries
- PC load times can impact runs
- Set strategies removes many of the RPG elements
Any Pokemon Game
- A classic that is easy to learn
- Fast completion times
- Tons of different version to try
- Many different game modes with different goals
- Mostly designed for portable consoles which might not be enjoyable
- Randomness can kill runs and frustrate players
- Glitches can deter players
Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door
- Flexibility with virtual consoles
- Very unique aesthetic is great for players of all ages
- Familiar characters
- Very fun base game
- Both games are Nintendo exclusives
- Nintendo’s policy on Youtube and streaming can be a pain
- The light-hearted atmosphere can be taunting if runs start to get intense.
Final Fantasy IV
- Portable friendly
- Short speedrun
- Set in the Final Fantasy Universe
- Skills are semi-transferable to more popular FF games
- Turn-based with a twist
- Graphics and gameplay can feel dated
- You might wish you were playing one of the more popular titles instead
- Short runs
- Teachable skills for other RPG speedruns
- Numerous categories
- Bethesda games of this era feel very similar which may be off-putting
- Notorious Bethesda glitches can upset runs
- The non-fantasy environment may not be enjoyable for some RPG fans
- Short run time
- A good entry for casual gamers
- No need to purchase old consoles to play it
- The game can be a bit basic for RPG fans
- Art style and delivery of the story might be patronizing to some
- Co-op speedruns
- Available for all console developers and PC
- FPS/RPG combination is unique
- Tons of different entries to try out so you won’t get bored
- Fast run time
- Passionate community
- Art style and sense of humor isn’t for everyone
- FPS elements separate it from traditional RPGs
- Borderlands 2 is an older entry, so you might have to buy an older console.
Undertale’s hilarious meta-humor makes it a perfect entry for RPG fans.
When it comes to speedrunning, you’ll never be bored with Undertale.
Undertale has a whopping 13 different recognized run-types giving you lots of options to find the type of run that is the most fun for you.
Many games have very set-in-stone paths and only a handful of categories that are recognized by the community. Usually there are at least two run types: glitchless runs, and any runs that include
glitches, but Undertale’s plethora of different modes stand out among speedrunning RPGs.
For perspective, the most popular game on Speedrun.com, Super Mario 64, has 396 active players, but the game only has 5 categories.
Each of Undertale’s 13 run-types have unique rule sets so you can learn multiple ways to play the same game.
Undertale’s also available on multiple popular systems which makes it easy to pick-up, play, and speedrun.
Undertale is available on PS4, PC, Mac, and Switch, and it’s also on the PSVita and has Linux compatibility making it perfect for niche players as well.
Undertale Speedrunning Pros:
Undertale Speedrunning Cons:
JRPGs are a super sub-genre that have their own unique qualities that players tend to love or hate.
JRPGs are notoriously long, yet they usually have memorable characters and fantastical world-building.
Disgaea is a quintessential JRPG that has been around as a series for 17 years!
It’s got plenty of familiar RPG elements while also combining elements of strategy and tactics.
This latest entry is relatively new which means its graphics will hold up if that’s important to you, and you probably don’t have to go buy a new console just to play it.
Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance Speedrunning Pros:
Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance Speedrunning Cons:
This blast from the past is a unique horror-survival Action RPG that was released for the Playstation back in 1998.
Parasite Eve excels as a beginner RPG speedrun thanks to its amazing community support which includes discord.
Community leaders have created an easy-to-learn guide that you can refer to as you learn the game.
Detailed video guides are available as well, and, best of all, its underground status means it will be a brand new experience for most users.
It’s also a short RPG, completed in around 3 hours once you get the hang of it.
There are no difficult tricks or glitches, so if you aren’t a fan of the efficacy of glitches then Parasite Eve is perfect for you to try.
Parasite Eve Speedrunning Pros:
Parasite Eve Speedrunning Cons:
I know what you’re thinking, but hear me out.
Remember how I said that speedrunning can change the difficulty of certain games?
Well, Dark Souls is a perfect example.
It’s a challenging game for casual players, but it’s actually very speedrunning friendly.
Most obstacles in the game can simply be skipped by running past them.
The routes give players immense combat strength early-on, meaning players need to learn the routes and boss fights without worrying about mastering combat.
The Souls series has great community support with numerous charity runs, Youtubers, and streamers, so you can find the community that you most identify with.
If you’ve been afraid to tackle Souls games, then maybe try speedrunning them from the start.
You might enjoy them quite a lot!
Dark Souls Speedrunning Pros:
Dark Souls Speedrunning Cons:
Specifically, any regular Pokemon game, not necessarily the spin-offs like Pokemon Snap or Colosseum.
Not only are these games insanely popular, but they have a variety of different categories and you can pick the game that’s your favorite.
Being a portable game allows you to practice on-the-go (although keep in mind official runs must be done in one sitting).
There are a number of glitches you can try-out in the older Pokemon games that are easy to do.
This allows you to hit an easy “world-record” and beat one of the biggest franchises of all time in just a few minutes.
Crazy! Now, it’s worth noting that the ease of this glitch means that there are no leaderboards for it.
But there are other crazy glitched runs that are doable in around 11 minutes which is still insane.
Due to the variety of glitches, Pokemon is a good entry for players who are inexperienced with glitches and want to learn how to master them in speedrunning.
Since the run-time is so short, restarting isn’t a big deal at all.
Pokemon Speedrunning Pros:
Pokemon Speedrunning Cons:
Mario takes a break from platforming in these fantastic RPG entries.
This is a double entry because both games are drenched in charm and are too good to ignore.
Thousand Year Door is widely regarded as the better of the two and is slightly longer at around 2 hours for a top level run, so expect to spend around 4 hours until you get better.
The original Paper Mario is an N64 title that made a resurgence on the Wii and Wii U virtual consoles.
That makes Paper Mario slightly more accessible than Thousand Year Door, and it has a shorter completion time.
Want to dish out the money for a GCN?
You’ll have access to a vast swath of amazing games to speedrun including Super Mario Sunshine, Simpsons Hit and Run, Metroid Prime 1 and 2, a plethora of Sonic games, Resident Evil titles, and many more Nintendo exclusives like Pikmin.
So, while Thousand Year Door is a good entry RPG to speedrun, it might open the door to many more amazing speedrunning games.
Paper Mario The Thousand Year Door Speedrunning Pros:
Paper Mario TheThousand Year Door Speedrunning Cons:
I swear putting FF IV at the number 4 spot wasn’t intentional…
Final Fantasy is without a doubt one of the biggest RPG series of all time, however they pose some problems for entry-level speedrunners.
Final Fantasy games are difficult to speedrun because they are often very intricate and very long.
Of the top 3 most often speedrun Final Fantasy Titles, IV is by far the shortest clocking in at a little over an hour for the most optimized runs.
FF VII and FF X have completion times of 6 hours and 10 hours respectively.
That’s a huge time commitment that is a major barrier even for experienced speedrunners.
That level of time investment becomes a separate challenge all of its own, and is one that you should only try to tackle once you’ve become accustomed to speedrunning.
Released back in 1991, FF IV is definitely an older entry, which can deter some, but it has a lot of portable versions making it excellent for hand-held players or those who want something to speedrun on-the-go.
FF IV is available for the SNES, GBA, PS1, PS2, DS, PSP, and both iOS and Windows.
For fans of Final Fantasy, FF IV is a great starting place to learn speedrunning.
Final Fantasy IV Speedrunning Pros:
Final Fantasy IV Speedrunning Cons:
There are many entries in the Fallout series, and any Fallout game could be a great candidate for starting your speedrunning journey.
Their unique combination of FPS and RPG elements make them an interesting choice for fans of RPGs who want something new, or FPS fans looking to try out the RPG genre.
Many of the Fallout games could have made it to the list, New Vegas especially, but Fallout 3 has a few advantages over other popular games in the series.
Fallout 3 features a number of exciting glitches that allow players to beat the any% category in around 15min making it an extremely short speedrun.
That means less time learning the intricacies of the game and more time practicing glitches and optimizing movement and inventory management.
These are important skills for other, more challenging, RPG speedruns.
In addition to the any% runs, there are plenty of other types of runs including an all-quest category for those who want a more complete game experience.
The all-quest category has world records around only 1 hour, meaning it’s another category that won’t take a ton of time to go for.
Expect to spend around 3-4 hrs until you get the hang of things, which is easily completed for most people.
Fallout 3 Speedrunning Pros:
Fallout 3 Speedrunning Cons:
Minecraft popularized so many different games with its minimalist visuals and its stylistic blend of RPG and survival mechanics.
The regular Minecraft game is fun to speedrun, and there are tons of different categories, however Minecraft Dungeons is here instead because it’s so new.
There is definitely something special about being part of a speedrunning community when a game is still fresh.
There are new routes to be discovered, new tricks and glitches, records are constantly changing, and the playing field is more level since you don’t have people with over ten years of experience or more to contend with.
While the tone of the game might not be for everyone, it’s a great addition for a wide range of audiences.
It’s available on the newest consoles (PS4, XboxOne, Switch) and PC which is a very important feature.
If you’re new to speedrunning you might want a game that looks and feels fresh, and Minecraft Dungeons certainly fits the bill.
Plus, you don’t have the headache of searching for and buying an older console which is a barrier to entry for a ton of speed-ran games, especially RPGs.
Minecraft Dungeon Speedrunning Pros: New game with evolving strategies and fresh community
Minecraft Dungeon Speedrunning Cons:
The biggest reason to pick up Borderlands 2: Co-op.
That’s right, with co-op leaderboards between 2 and 4 players, this entry is perfect for teaching your friends how to speedrun or learning together with them.
If you want to play solo, that’s fine too, both solo and co-op runs have relatively fast completion times of between 1-2 hours at the top-end making it doable for beginners in short sessions.
This fan-favorite action RPG checks a lot of boxes for being a great RPG to learn speedrunning.
Borderlands 2 is available for multiple consoles including PC, there are a ton of different games in the series so the tricks you learn can often carry-over to different versions, there are a lot of different run- types, and it’s another unique entry that combines FPS elements with a cell-shaded art style that keeps the games light and humorous.
Borderlands 2 Speedrunning Pros:
Borderlands 2 Speedrunning Cons:
So many people look at speedrunning like it takes away the magic of games, but that’s not the case at all.
There is something uniquely magical about being able to fully master games to their zenith.
Most speedrun games are still enjoyable casually too!
Remember, when starting to speedrun, don’t compare yourself to others. Just beat your own records and have fun.
Once you get good then you can start trying to push yourself, but don’t let mistakes get you down.
Most high-level speedrunners reset after the slightest error, but try to just keep going.
It’s important to learn your chosen game at every stage, and you can’t do that if you’re always resetting.
What did you think of our list? Were there any RPGs you would have liked to see? Let us know in the comments. Thanks for reading, and have fun speedrunning!