A shiba inu named Peanut Butter will make speedrunning history Tuesday at Awesome Games Done Quick, becoming the first dog to compete at the annual event. Peanut Butter, with the guidance of his human caregiver James, will attempt a live speedrun of 1985 NES game Gyromite.
James, aka JSR_, and Peanut Butter share the record for a “Dog Assistance” run of Gyromite’s Game B mode. According to speedrun.com, they are the only competitors currently vying for that record, and their current time of 25 minutes, 29 seconds is competitive with the other Game B, human-only runs listed on the speedrun-tracking website. You can catch a replay of James and PB’s speedrun attempt from last summer on YouTube.
Or you can watch a live attempt via Twitch, which James and Peanut Butter will attempt remotely from their home in Las Vegas, at 1:19 p.m. EST on Jan. 16. Consult the full Awesome Games Done Quick event schedule for more details.
James tells Polygon that his three-and-a-half-year-old dog Peanut Butter is “a great listener.”
“Considering the amount of attention that speedrunning and playing games takes, I usually have to resort to tasty treats to get him to stick with me,” James said in a Discord message. “He is remarkably well-behaved for a Shiba.”
The idea to have Peanut Butter attempt speedrunning comes from James’ love of the challenge. He’s an accomplished speedrunner himself, and will perform a run of NES game Castlevania 3: Dracula’s Curse at Awesome Games Done Quick on Thursday. James has been speedrunning games since 2016 and has multiple top-10 runs in The Legend of Zelda. It wasn’t until 2022 when he decided to bring his dog into the hobby.
“I accomplished a feat called ‘The Angry Video Game Nerd Trials of JSR’ where I performed a speedrun from every episode of the AVGN,” James said. “One of those was ROB the Robot where I had to speedrun Gyromite. As I routed and practiced it, I had the idea to use my dog to replace ROB and we began training. It took him about a year before he was where he’s at now.”
ROB the Robot was an accessory for the NES that worked with just two games: Gyromite and Stack-Up. Designed as a way to convince retailers to carry the NES in stores after the 1983 video game market crash, ROB can perform simple functions, moving discs back and forth on buttons.
Peanut Butter effectively performs the role of ROB in James’ Gyromite speedruns, using a custom controller to press buttons.
“The controller was a collaboration between myself and my buddy Mea__Culpa,” James said. “He donated an old GameCube fight stick, which I modded to be more Shiba-friendly. I wired some switches in series and then glued a piece of balsa wood on top of them, giving PB a bigger target to press.”
There's nothing in the rules that says a dog can't speedrun!— jyxyj (@_jyxyj_) January 15, 2024
I've only just met PB but I'm completely enamored by his speedrunner's spirit--good luck to him (and his owner) at #AGDQ2024! pic.twitter.com/krAUrHuBXF
While Awesome Games Done Quick is being held in Pittsburgh this year, James and PB won’t be there in person. “Our run this time around will be remote,” James said. “In the future, we would like to try it in person, so hopefully this goes well!”
Awesome Games Done Quick runs through Sunday. The charity speedrunning event is streaming live on Twitch, with replays uploaded to the Games Done Quick YouTube channel. Proceeds from the twice-annual charity event (and from sales of the official Peanut Butter T-shirt) go to the Prevent Cancer Foundation.