Despite being criticized for being too easy, a typical play-through of any given Pokémon game might take around 8-25 hours. The world record for Pokémon Red as of July 2014, though? One hour and fifty minutes—and you can watch the incredible run here.
This glitchless "any percentage" speedrun was performed by Charlie "Exarion" Armitz, and it's probably the best speedrun I've watched. I may be biased here, given that this is a Pokémon speedrun—but still, the commentary here is excellent. The entire way through, he breaks down many of the techniques used in the run, as well as some of the history behind runs like this. The video is super informative and accessible. It's clear Armitz knows his route inside and out—whenever he goes into a battle, he can often tell you specific statistics about the likelihood of a win and what sorts of damage he can expect at his level, for example.
Armitz uses Squirtle as a starter for the run, which might not be surprising, given that science has proven that Squirtle is the best choice out of the three. Squirtle is one of the preferred starting Pokémon for speedrunners, Armitz says.
What makes a Pokémon Red speedrun particularly interesting is how different it is from the way we normally play games like this. Typically, we don't even notice if the Pokémon we're handed at the start of the game is shitty: the preferred method of play is to simply over-level all the Pokémon you have, thus negating any stat flaws a Pokemon might have. That's why lots of people don't even realize that not all Pokemon of the same species are made equal. Here, bad stats on your initial Pokémon can throw everything off at the start, can make you vulnerable to losing battles and precious time.
The reason these initial stats are such problem is because saving time means fewer battles, not much grinding, never resorting to healing at the Pokémon center if you can avoid it, and not purchasing many extra items that could ensure your safety. All of this combines to makes the speedrun seem particularly intense at times, especially when you consider one of the popular strategies used is to let your Pokémon "go in the red" health wise. This strategy helps speed some stuff up, as Armitz explains in the video—but also means your Pokémon could easily die in any given battle, given that they're low on health.
Aside from this, the speedrun is packed with a ton of cool trivia about the original games—like what tiles can produce encounters, and the fact that gym leaders actually buff your Pokémon in certain ways that the game doesn't tell you about. Even as a big Pokémon fan, there is a lot in this video that I didn't know about.
Still, as fascinating as this speedrun is, I can't believe he named his rival "A" and not, like, fuckface or something. I know naming him "A" saves time, but still...traditions, people.
And if you're curious: the next best run is currently held by a speedrunner that goes by the handle of "Werster," and it clocks in at 1:51. You can see the leaderboard for Pokemon speedruns here.
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