Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Games That Took Longer To Buy Than To Beat

There's pretty much always more than one way to play a game. Most people choose to first dive into the story that's presented to them, either embodying a game's protagonist or role-playing an adventure all their own. Other gamers are total completionists who must dig into every side quest and hidden passageway that crosses their path. No matter how they play, gamers get lost in their favorite titles.

That all might be fun enough, but why bother? Sure, the biggest games of 2023 and beyond are going to be jam-packed with enough content to eat up entire afternoons, but if reaching the end credits is your primary goal, there's almost always a faster way to get there. People have been speedrunning for as long as there have been video games, and the best runners will use anything and everything they can to get through games at borderline impossible speeds.

As games have gotten longer, speedruns have gotten more complicated and more impressive. That's why for every AAA title promising endless hours of content, there are just as many games out there that you can beat faster than the time it takes to get to the store and buy them.

The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind

Bethesda's sprawling RPGs are perfect for gamers who love a long story, but they also appeal to players who want to experience the challenge of compressing hours of gameplay into mere minutes. Bethesda released "Morrowind," the third main installment in the "Elder Scrolls" series, back in 2002, but the game includes an impressive amount of content even by today's standards. A typical playthrough will run upwards of 40 hours, but anyone with even a passing interest in the game's many side quests could sink hundreds of hours into exploring all that it has to offer.

You could spend days wandering through every nook and cranny of "Morrowind" — or, with enough practice, you could rush through the entire main quest in just a few minutes. Experienced speedrunners have turned playing "Morrowind" into a science, to the point where they can finish the game in under three minutes.

Of course, a lightning run of "Morrowind" looks nothing at all like regular gameplay. The only way to close out the game at such a jaw-dropping rate is to take advantage of a handful of its most useful glitches. Rather than spending any time exploring places like Balmora and Vivec, speedrunners spend most of their time delving into interstitial areas that can only be reached by clipping straight through walls and scenery. It's not exactly a visually stunning journey, but the results speak for themselves.

Spyro 2

Long before it delighted superhero fans with "Marvel's Spider-Man," Insomniac Games endeared itself to an entire generation with "Spyro the Dragon." For late 90s Playstation gamers, "Spyro" represented the height of adventure. The purple dragon could zoom through levels, dealing with enemies and platforming challenges with the help of his trusty dragonfly sidekick Sparx. 

It's been a criminally long time since we were given a fresh "Spyro" adventure. Because of that, fans have spent more than a decade replaying the classics and pushing Spyro to his absolute limits. "Spyro 2" came out in 1999, and today hardcore speedrunners can finish the game in a fraction of the time it would have taken to go out and buy the physical disc it came on. 

One player managed to beat "Spyro 2" in under 8 minutes, and their run is truly something to behold. The instant that Spyro spawns into the game, he makes a beeline for the edge of the map and soars right outside its boundaries. Most of the run is spent leaping over castle walls or diving straight into them to clip through the majority of a level. The one thing Spyro can't avoid are the game's bosses, but since fans have had more than 20 years to perfect their strategies, Crush, Gulp, and Ripto – the game's only mandatory bosses – are hardly a challenge.

Pokémon Red & Blue

"Pokémon" has kept fans engaged for decades despite having a relatively simple presentation and reusing essentially the same game mechanics for more than a dozen titles. The real draw to any "Pokémon" game is the tantalizing prospect of encountering, capturing, and training the hundreds of wonderful creatures that have been introduced to the franchise over the years. That said, there's no reason a particularly committed gamer couldn't stick with their starter Pokémon from beginning to end. With a little ingenuity, it's possible to make it through the game with even less.

The save corruption glitch affects "Pokémon Red," "Blue," and "Yellow." It's possible to set the glitch off from the very opening of the story by saving at the first opportunity and immediately restarting the game. Once the game is back up and running, the player's inventory will be overloaded with items, and their party will be full, even though they haven't picked up a starter Pokémon. Then all a player has to do is shuffle a few items around and toss out 68 copies of one corrupted item. At that point, walking out the front door of the house will take players directly to the end of the game, and they'll finish "Pokémon" with an official play time of 0 seconds.

Sonic the Hedgehog (2006)

Sonic is all about going fast, but gamers can push him to a whole new level. When 2006's "Sonic the Hedgehog" landed on the Xbox 360 and PS3, it didn't exactly impress the gaming world, but that hasn't stopped fans from spending years attempting to find the fastest way to run through the game's story. It turns out that with just a little bit of willingness to break the rules, Sonic players can make it through the entire adventure in under an hour.

There's an incredibly useful glitch that lets players skip entire missions in "Sonic," but setting it off requires quite a bit of legwork. First players need to glitch out Sonic's companions by tricking the game into thinking that they're continually falling. That opens the door to initiating what's known as the "Mission Select Glitch" by zooming through the dialogue options while picking up a sidequest. Lastly, players have to begin the mission the game thinks they've assigned, then quit out of it to get teleported into the next main story mission.

After all that setup, Sonic still has to play out the objective of whatever story mission he's signed up for. Once the objective is completed, the weight of all the glitches will come crashing down on the game, which will promptly shoot players into the end credits. It's not exactly a flashy procedure, but experienced speedrunners make it look easy.

Fallout: New Vegas

"Fallout: New Vegas" marked a high point for the "Fallout" franchise. Set in the ruins of the American southwest, the game follows an ill-fated courier who ends up playing a pivotal role in a war between the NCR and Caesar's Legion that determines the future of the Mojave Wasteland. The game is packed with interesting side quests, lovable characters, and morally ambiguous factions, but players don't have to sift through all of that just to hit the endgame.

There are countless ways to speedrun "New Vegas," and they all involve following optimized paths and interacting with characters in ways that would totally break the immersion of a regular playthrough. The real secret to beating the game faster than you bought it, though, is taking advantage of a particularly tricky glitch called reload dashing. 

By pulling up the Pip-Boy and immediately switching ammo types on a revolver, players can launch themselves across the map. With some clever quicksave/quick-loading, it's possible to avoid fall damage and quite literally fly to the end of a game that would otherwise take dozens of hours to complete. The "New Vegas" speedrunning community is still lively, even after all the years the game's been out, and the current world record is a sub-10 minute finish.

Super Mario Bros.

The longer a game has been out, the faster players get at moving through it. "Super Mario Bros." is a Nintendo classic, and after decades and countless new releases and spin-offs, it's still one of the best "Mario" games ever created. With the right amount of practice, it can also be one of the shortest.

Anyone who grew up with an NES in their house undoubtedly has entire sections of "Super Mario Bros." burned into their memory. Clearing the first level while barely looking at the screen is something just about every longtime fan can do, but the best "Mario" players can finish the whole game in just a few minutes. Pulling off a record-setting finish time requires not just extensive platforming skills, but also an incredible amount of memorization. Players need to learn the best path through the game and drill all the enemy patterns that need to be dealt with through the journey from World 1 to Bower's Castle.

Unlike some of the other entries here, the best "Mario" speedruns are glitch-free. With all the right pieces in place, not to mention countless hours of practice, some of the fastest "Mario" runs are over faster than most of us could manage to get the NES to read the cartridge in the first place.


"Portal" was never a particularly long game. Most casual players can run through the main story in just a few hours, but that felt like quite a bit of time back in 2007, when gamers were grabbing the game as part of "The Orange Box" from their local game shop. In the age of digital downloads and lengthy AAA experiences, 3 hours feels shorter than it used to, but it's an eternity compared to the time it takes dedicated speedrunners to charge through the game.

In July 2022, a player called Ethan29 set a new world record for "Portal" after finishing the game in just 5 minutes and 55 seconds. As stunning as his run is, Ehtan29's record was blown out of the water just weeks later by Can't Even, who managed to finish the game two seconds faster. Anyone who hasn't played "Portal" since the "Orange Box" days probably won't recognize the game from watching either of those record-setting runs. Getting through "Portal" at a speed that fries even GLaDOS's brain requires more than a handful of glitches, and a majority of the game is played by clipping out through walls and passing into adjacent rooms, all without solving any puzzles at all.


"SUPERHOT" is heavy on the gunplay, but the game's real twist is that time only moves when the player character moves. By just slowing down and taking it easy, players can carefully plan out their every move and seamlessly blast their way through every enemy the game throws at them. Or, they can rush through at full speed and finish the game as quickly as possible.

Standard "SUPERHOT" players have managed to move through the game with peak efficiency, with some of the fastest runs coming in at under the twenty minute mark. That's probably not faster than it takes to actually buy the game, depending on your internet connection, but "SUPERHOT VR" has a different story to tell.

Playing the game in VR all but transforms you into John Wick. Getting through the game at any speed requires careful dodging, precision aim, and a willingness to be flexible in your choice of weapon. Speedrunners have transformed "SUPERHOT VR" into something of an artform. The current world record holder finished the game in under 8 minutes and displayed an almost psychic level of knowledge about where every enemy would spawn and where all their dropped weapons would land. Who knows how long he spent perfecting his game, but if practicing was half as much fun as watching the run, it was time well spent.


"Spelunky" is a platformer that delights the most hardcore fans of the genre and absolutely eviscerates anyone who's still getting the hang of running and jumping. The game has everything you'd expect from a great platformer, but it combines those mechanics with roguelike elements to elevate the entire package. Every single "Spelunky" run is different, so memorization and careful planning can only take you so far.

Naturally, speedrunners have stepped up to the plate to take on the "Spelunky" challenge. They've had since 2013 to contend with the various obstacles that "Spelunky" can throw in their path, and like the diehard fans of "Super Mario Bros.," most "Spelunky" runners can play through the game without any wild glitches to help them progress.

Despite the truly difficult experience that "Spelunky" has to offer, speedrunners have managed to grind the game to its breaking point. Forgetting beating the game faster than buying it. The current world record holder beat "Spelunky" faster than anyone could even think about buying the game. HectiqueAgain finished the game in just over 1 minute and 35 seconds. The run is thrilling to watch, largely because it's so much easier to follow than any heavily glitch-reliant speedruns. Gamers seemingly always manage to one-up each other, but this time "Spelunky" might actually be tapped out.

Elden Ring

"Elden Ring" is the culmination of years of work from developer FromSoftware. It combines the best elements of "Dark Souls," "Bloodborne," and "Sekiro" into a game that is nothing less than a masterpiece. The massive open world is as detailed as a fantasy setting can be, and it supplies gamers with dozens of hours of content, including dungeons to explore, bosses to battle, and opaque questlines to agonize over.

It's easy to get lost in the world of "Elden Ring," and plenty of us lost weeks worth of time when the game first came out in 2022. But not everyone wants an immersive fantasy experience that they can really sink their teeth into. Some people show up to "Elden Ring" looking for a challenge, and when the game's many bosses aren't enough, they turn to speedrunning.

The average player will make their way through "Elden Ring" in about 60 hours, but the fastest speedrunners tear through it in minutes. In August 2022, Hyp3rsomniac took advantage of some world-bending glitches to beat the game without actually fighting a single boss. The entire run lasts just under 4 minutes — and no one is getting "Elden Ring" bought and installed that quickly.