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World-record time in Wii Sports Resort Golf brings out the best of speedrunning (correction)

Agony, thrills and amazing shots beat a big name’s mark

Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

Wii Sports Resort Golf ordinarily wouldn’t be a top-of-mind game for thrilling speedruns — but it is to me now, in the details of the world record set last night by an up-and-comer to the competitive landscape.

First, congratulations to Alaskaxp2, who joined 8 months ago, set his first No. 1 time a month after that, and 10 more since across four Wii games. His 12:21.14 in golf last night took down a four-day old record set by Darbian, a very well known speedrunner who is the reigning (and two-time) record-holder for Super Mario Bros., any percent, and a competitor at Awesome Games Done Quick since 2015.

Darbian’s run on Feb. 7 beat a mark set about 2 12 years ago (but submitted and verified only in May 2017). It’s the first time he’s come into the Wii Sports Resort speedrun community, where Alaskaxp2 and previous record-holder YaBoyBTrue are moderators. Interestingly, Darbian also has a 5.57 time in Dragster — which was recently established as the fastest possible time in the game after a dispute threw out the previous 35-year-old record.

What makes Wii Sports Resort Golf intriguing as a speedrun is the variability that is inherently a part of the game. Course conditions, generated at random, mean the wind can be at a player’s back for a big distance assist — or in their face, or blowing the ball laterally. The motion controls are also not as precise as using a gamepad on other games, so the muscle-memory advantage of an expert in another game means nothing in trying to get maximum power (and hooks and slices are part of the game, too).

It means that every run is going to have at least one or two bad holes — and the record runs are then going to have an awesome comeback from that. It all makes for a nice commentary on sticking with a speedrun even if you feel like you’ve blown it, as Alaskaxp2 must have after carding six strokes and three-putting No. 8 at the Resort.

Alaskaxp2 was still ahead of Darbian’s split time after that disaster (by my unofficial reckoning against Darbian’s posted split times, posted here), but not by much. No. 9 looked like the real backbreaker. Alaskaxp2 went into a greenside bunker on his second shot, leading to a fourth stroke and par that put him slower than Darbian’s split time for the first time in the run.

Then the comeback begins. Alaskaxp2 holds steady on No. 11 and 12, then buries a whopping 50 foot putt to move on about a dozen seconds faster. A birdie on No. 14 almost doubles his lead. He gives back about five seconds on No. 15 going wide on his tee shot, coming up short from a bunker, yet saving par with a long put.

On No. 16, Alaskaxp2 sees he is within reach over the final three holes. “My stomach just went crazy,” he announces, with a 10 mph wind at his back. Attempting to drive the green, he clips a branch and stops somewhere in the first cut — which is still puttable. Alaskaxp2 bottoms out a 39-foot putt to eagle the par-4. The 18th hole is a series of islands, and he just barely clears two water hazards before settling down and draining a 14-foot putt for his record, 11 seconds faster than Darbian.

“Basically, the whole run was good. I always have a bad hole in my runs and I suppose that hole 8 was the one, but hole 16’s [random number generator] patterns led me on to [a world record] pace,” Alaskaxp2 said on Reddit. (He also added, “I beat Darbian at a speedgame. HOLY MOLY.” in the YouTube video posted yesterday.)

But as another Redditor pointed out, early in the run Alaskaxp2 said “I keep on time-saving, but I’m just not proud of myself.” User Mayrink rightly said that was “Every world record holder’s motto.” It’s a perfectionist community, and there were a lot of setbacks overcome to get this mark. Well done.

Correction: A previous version of this post assumed that Alaskaxp2’s stream showed him competing against Darbian’s splits. He wasn’t. The overall time is still valid, but this post has been edited to give a more accurate view of his progress through the run.