The world of speedrunning is a massively competitive one, which might be surprising to you when you consider that some of the games being used are decades old.
A great many speedrunners focus on gaming's biggest titles when it comes to setting records, but there's a growing trend of people picking obscure games, too – and Virtual Hydlide certainly fits into that category.
An early release for the Sega Saturn, Virtual Hydlide is, as the title suggests, part of the Hydlide JRPG series that began life in Japan on the NEC PC-6001 and PC-8801 computers back in 1984 (the Mega Drive / Genesis got Super Hydlide in 1989, and the less said about that, the better).
The 1995 Saturn game is effectively a 3D remake of the very first Hydlide. It got largely negative reviews when it arrived at the dawn of the console's life, with western outlets criticising the tedious gameplay and ropey visuals.
Despite this, there's a pretty epic contest taking place right now to claim the 'Any percentage' speedrun world record. The two combatants are @TheRealZophar (yes, he of The Zophar's Domain fame) and @mechalink.
The latter was the current world record holder when Zophar began his speedrun attempt at the end of November; Zophar stole the crown with a time of 33 minutes and 12 seconds on the 28th of that month:
However, on December 13th, Mechalink reclaimed the title with a time of 33 minutes and 4 seconds. Zophar, who was nursing a nasty stomach bug at the time, vowed to return:
His first attempt improved on his personal best but was still a few seconds off the world record:
Then, two days later, Zophar managed to topple Mechalink's record, achieving an impressive time of 32 minutes and 15 seconds:
Given that almost a minute had been shaved off the record, you'd think it would stand for a while, right? Wrong.
It took Mechalink less than a day to reclaim the world record, posting a time of 31 minutes and 34 seconds.
Zophar isn't done yet, but here's footage of his best run so far: