Speedrunners rightly encompasses everything about its name. It is not a complicated game, nor does it need to be. It’s the simplicity that makes it legendary. Playing in either story mode or online multiplayer, the goal is simple: run fast, avoid traps, and destroy your opponents by running them offscreen. Developed by DoubleDutch Games and published by tinyBuild Games, Speedrunners has changed quite a bit since its early access release in 2013. After many public trials, it has finally fully released itself in all its glory.
Speedrunners is a 4 player competitive racing platformer. It’s set in a city packed so full to the brim with superheroes (and many, many crates) that getting to the scenes of the crimes has become a race in itself. To battle other players and be the fastest, you must maneuver parts of the city with boosts and grappling hooks all while avoiding and deploying traps such as rockets, time bombs, and many other goodies in order to destroy your competitors. This is done by forcing the other players off the screen frame. Think Super Smash Bros, but instead of hitting the other players, you outrun them.
The simple design of Speedrunners is genius. The graphics are visually exciting and the platforming mechanics are easy to control. It flows so well that there’s no need to memorize the maps. The physics of the world are so well defined, you can easily predict how a split-second choice the player makes will turn out. It’s almost like creating muscle memory. It’s extremely satisfying when one can maneuver the world and completely annihilate the opponent. Speedrunners is a game where one wants to be the best. The simplicity breeds endless options in how one decides to play it, like where to boost and when to deploy the traps. One simple move can completely make or break the round for the player, and that is awesome. Another nice touch—a feature which has noticeably changed since the early access release—is that after the first player of four dies, the screen begins to shrink until it can barely contain the two remaining competitors. It’s fiercely intense and is also convenient in making sure the matches stay quick and don’t last forever with just two people battling.
Speedrunners is incredibly addictive. It harbors a deep competitive, animalistic nature in the player, and the game knows it. It offers a wide social media scope where one can rightfully boast about their races online. Within the game, the player can run practice trials against bots or create trails—the game’s version of racing game “ghosts”—in online mode to keep track of how well one is playing. The story mode even makes the player build themselves up by forcing them to sequentially unlock easy, medium, hard, and unfair. The matching in the online multiplayer is fairly standard, although some low-level players will be matched with higher levels, but it’s not even a bad thing. Seeing what masters at this can do and stealing their tricks makes one want to work harder to eventually take them down.
Another great aspect of Speedrunners is the game’s stylistic soundtrack. It’s old school jazz that one would find in an old spy movie of the 80s. It fits the game like a glove and even enhances it. The music gives an absolute sense of determination, and there’s no better feeling than getting close to the end of the race, the screen shrinking, as the player is set on destroying their opponent and punctuating the moment of victory with a final swell of music.
Speedrunners is not the type of game to require a story mode, but it adds a nice touch, fleshing out the characters you play against, and gives the player extra practice. Playing as the self-centered Speedrunner, you encounter various characters who have their own personal—though fairly shallow—backstories. When completing each level in the story, the player is rewarded with a comic book detailing why they are racing against Speedrunner. The comics don’t contain any purpose other than to deepen the radically awesome world that the player is thrown into.
Speedrunners is a game built for those who love 2D platformers, racing games, and beat-em-ups. It encompasses everything good about all three of those genres. After years of public trails, it has fully released itself into a near perfect game. The hope for the future is that it stays fresh. According to tinyBuild, they are going to keep adding maps, characters, items, and features every month. But for right now, it’s difficult to stop playing it. Speedrunners is a testament to how simple mechanics and simple story make for endless possibilities in gaming.