By Quentin H. / June 8th, 2020
When you want to start speedrunning a game you love, and you see someone play a video game as fast as they can on Twitch, faster than you’ve yourself ever played it at home while pulling off insane technically difficult tricks, it can be quite intimidating. JHobz (‘Hobz’) and Keizaron, two accomplished speedrunners and volunteers with Games Done Quick, created a GDQ Hotfix show called The First Step to try to show that anyone can speedrun if they try. Last week, I caught up with both Hobz and Keizaron to talk all about speedrunning, The First Step, and more.
In the final part of this The First Step interview, Keizaron, Hobz, and I talk about what their favorite and least favorite games to run on The First Step have been, where/when we can watch them stream…and if they prefer to save or kill the animals when Super Metroid is being run on the Games Done Quick stage.
The First Step streams live every Thursday at 7 PM ET over on Twitch.
This interview has been edited for clarity and content.
Operation Rainfall: Last few questions. What have been your [most] favorite and least favorite games that you’ve run so far on The First Step?
Hobz: Favorite and least favorite.
Keizaron: This is a tough one!
H: Yeah, I’ve always enjoyed the co-op ones we do. Again, you just get to hang out with your friends and be on the same team. So it’s almost hard to count those. But we have gone back to World War Z in the past and tried to get a little bit better there.
Yeah, I don’t know. Do you have any that jump to mind for you, Keiz?
K: I’m going to cheat a little bit and say that I have a top three, because it is too hard for me to differentiate between the three of them. Because, I like them all for completely different reasons.
Untitled Goose Game has to be put there, because the fact that I won that- I shouldn’t have won that. It’s very clear I shouldn’t have. If you look through the chat replay, I clearly should not have won that. We were both just really, really dumb. It was such a mess of a fun time, it was really hard to forget it. It was just so much fun, and the end was [a] nail biter. It made for really good television.
I really liked the Super Metroid [race], because it was really close. There were several times when we would both say something like one after another, we would be in the same exact spot, even if we did things completely different. And it also just proved to me why Super Metroid is actually really cool of a game. I personally thought it was a little over-hyped, and then we played it, and I was like ‘I get it now, I absolutely get it.’
And then, Hobz did mention that co-op is kind of easy to pick. I loved Biped that much.
H: Yeah, it was really good.
K: That was so good, there were so many ‘ha ha’ moments that happened, and even though the practice- I think that’s why Biped is up there for me. Because when we practiced- we’ve obviously practiced the game before the show, and with co-ops we’ve obviously practiced with whatever group we’re doing it with before the shows- but just the co-op was so much fun in general, the practice was super fun, and then the show itself went really well. So that has to be on my list.
H: I’ll go ahead and give my least favorite, and then I’ll let Keiz get in his least favorite, and then I’ll give my three. I think for me- I’m going to have to give three as well. Because it just makes it so much easier. It’s cheating, but it’s fine.
I think my least favorite were probably Sonic Trilogy, because I was just so shocked that I thought I was going to like Sonic 3 the best, and then I really didn’t. So that was kind of a bummer for me. Donkey Kong Country 2 was similar in that regard, [as] I just got walled really hard- that’s just a really hard game with a hard save system. You have to do re-do several levels over and over, and those are the hardest games for the show, because they can go really well and you never care about the save system being bad because you don’t need it, or if something goes poorly, well suddenly, one person is really far behind. And that’s just how it goes. It’s unfortunate.
And then- it’s kind of hard to pick between Die Hard Trilogy and Owl Boy. Because Die Hard Trilogy is not a good game, but we figured it out really quickly. Because of that, I still had so much fun with it. Like, it still a lot of fun because we were playing Die Hard around Christmas time- I just loved that. With Owl Boy, there were just unfortunately a lot of cutscenes that we didn’t know how to skip- a lot of unskippable stuff. And that just brings down the pace of everything. And then I also softlocked on the final boss three times in a row for something that the runners had never seen before, which is not ideal. *laughs*
But yeah, those are probably my least favorites. Die Hard Trilogy is too fun. *laughs*
K: Least favorites for me- I want to emphasize real quick that just because we’re saying it’s our least favorite, doesn’t mean that we thought the game was necessarily good or bad or that we didn’t have any fun with it. It’s just there are so many games that we go through, there’s bound to be some that don’t stick out to one of us personally as much as the other, or just in general.
H: And there were just a lot of good episodes too, so like again, I think the Sonic games are great, and DKC 2 is a great game, but just for the way that episode went- I thought it was probably one my lesser favorites.
K: I think, for me, one of my- and this is in no particular order- one of my three that I wasn’t too keen was The End Is Nigh. It was a very frustrating thing, and it was around mentally when I was beating myself up even during the show. Not nearly as bad as on my private stream or anything like that, but I was physically giving myself a bunch of crap. And it was also just slotted kind of weird, because the week before we had Doom– which was a game we didn’t finish, but we got an extended amount of time [to play] because the chat really wanted to see it, and we had Alan [Brusky] ‘Raelcum’ actually doing the hosting for us because Richard wasn’t available to do it. And he was pushing for us too: ‘Yeah, get to the next boss! Whoever gets to the boss wins!’, and it just kind of added some hype to it. And then we had Bastion the week after, and Bastion was a super, super close race that was maybe five seconds apart. So, The End Is Nigh was just kind of like an awkward thing in-between, and it was a difficult game for me. And I definitely wasn’t too keen on it. Quake 4–
H: That almost made my list.
K: Mainly because it was less than the show itself than the practice, because I didn’t know how to adjust the light properly. So I played it in really dark setting[s], and then the day of the show, Hobz showed me a couple of settings and it was super duper bright and I could see everything. And that was just like ‘Oh! I wish I had this before!’ And it’s such a minor thing, but it led to such a different experience on the day of the show that it just kind of felt ‘off’ to me.
And then, it’d be really easy for me to say Sonic Adventure 2: Battle because I did horribly, horribly, horribly at it. But, yeah- it’s easy to say that. *laughs* I get why people like the game, I do, especially if you grew up with it because you have that sense of nostalgia. I didn’t grow up with it.
H: You gotta do the Chao stuff, man. And that leads into my favorites.
I think Super Metroid is way up there, it was such a good episode from so many angles. The fact that we did unbelievably faster than our first playthrough, it’s a game that so many people love- we’ve picked other games that people love, that we didn’t love as much: Sonic Adventure 2: Battle for Keiz, for example. And for [Super Metroid] to resonate with both of us was kind of great. And then, it coming all the way down to the wire at the very end, to where we quite called it a draw, because it was too close. That was a great one to me.
I really enjoyed Cadence of Hyrule [: Crypt of the NecroDancer Feat. The Legend of Zelda] as well. I thought that was a lot of fun, because that was a really fun game and we actually had to bring on a guest commentator for that one because that game requires so much focus since it is all about rhythm. I wasn’t sure if I was going to love the game or not, and it was really fun.
And it’d be easy for me to pick Ori and the Will of the Wisps because I’m just a big nerd for Ori. But I think I’d have to pick Batman: Arkham Asylum. I really enjoyed it a lot because some of the first games that I ever semi-blind raced, and something that helped give me the idea for the show, was Batman: Arkham City because it was a game that I really loved and then raced with a friend. And so, Batman: Arkham Asylum was just a game that I always wanted to play, and for that to work perfectly to play it on the show was a nice ‘tying a bow’ on top of the whole thing.
There are a lot a good ones that I go ‘This game is so good!’.
K: That’s why three for me wasn’t so easy to pick. Just to go on record. We’ve definitely had a lot of really fun episodes and fun games.
H: Mega Man X2 was super close down to the end too, even though the final time wasn’t- it’s hard to pick.
Sonic Adventure 2: Battle and The End is Nigh, despite making Keizaron’s ‘least favorite’ list, are still both great The First Step episodes to watch.
OR: Other than The First Step, which airs a new episode every Thursday at 7 PM Eastern, when and where else can people watch you stream and what are you currently speedrunning?
K: Well, of course you make me go first because I’m the perennial sellout. *laughs* So I’m really easy to find- any sort of a social media, if you do ‘social media sites slash Keizaron’, you’re almost guaranteed to find me. If it isn’t me, I’d be shocked at this point in time.
My stream schedule is all over the place lately, because sometimes I’m really early and sometimes I’m really late. I’m just surprisingly somehow more busy, so it’s really hard for me to have a set schedule. But you can find me at twitch.tv/keizaron. Right now, I’m not really- it’s funny because we’re running a speedrunning show- but I haven’t been really focusing on any runs at the moment, I’ve been having a lot of fun with [Pokémon] Crystal randomizers and Fire Emblem [randomizers]. Just randomizers in general, I’ve been having a ton of fun with because you can still bring the element of speedrunning in it and you can bring a casual sense into it. And I feel like a randomizer is a really good way to display your knowledge of the game, not necessarily the route, but of the game.
So I’ve been having a lot of fun with those, but I definitely am looking into picking up a couple of games that I’ve done in the past. I do plan on picking up Mega Man Battle Network 2 again soon, and possibly go back to some Pokémon Heart Gold/Soul Silver.
H: Which, fun fact, we’ve wanted to do Mega Man Battle for The First Step, but it was way too long. And that’s why we ended up doing Mega Man Legends instead. *laughs*
K: Yep. Richard! *laughs*
H: Mine is more obnoxious, because apparently there are enough ‘J Hobz’ out there that it is hard to find. But twitch.tv/JHobz296 is my Twitch, that’s the main thing. My Twitter is @J_Hobz, and I also have a YouTube channel with my good buddy ‘SpikeVegeta‘ called Possibly Bad Entertainment, which is our company where we do a bunch of really cool speedrunning-related things and also just casual gaming things and other stuff. And you can find that at YouTube.com/PossiblyBad.
Lately, I also haven’t been speedrunning too much. Like, I’ve been speedrunning Ori and the Will of the Wisps for quite a bit, and I’m still going to be running that actually on a GDQ Hotfix show coming up soon, but lately I’ve been working through Dark Souls 2 and 3 because the Possibly Bad League is a thing I do with Spike for our company, and we have an episode coming up this Sunday, which is probably going to have happened before this comes out, but we’re basically going to be doing more or less a semi-blind race through the entire Dark Souls trilogy. Start to finish, we’ll probably take breaks between games, but mostly start to finish on that.
So I have been trying my hardest to get through these really long games this month, to be able to be ready for that. So after this interview is over, I’m going back to playing Dark Souls 3. Going to try to finish that.
K: Any time we have any sort of free moment, I’m like ‘You want to play Valorant? Valorant sounds fun.’ And now that we get a little bit of a reprieve [from Valorant] because it’s closed now and it won’t be back until it’s officially released-
H: Yeah, that hasn’t helped. *laughs* So I’ve been casually playing Dark Souls, but in preparation to speed run them. So I do this The First Step semi-blind format all the time. I just continually find it really fun.
Untitled Goose Game was a very competitive The First Step race that nearly ended in a tie.
OR: In addition to hosting The First Step, you’re both volunteers for various Games Done Quick charity fundraising events, with Summer Games Done Quick scheduled for August 16 through August 23, 2020. One of the biggest donation drives in any Games Done Quick event is when they run Super Metroid, and of the donation incentives comes in at the very end of the game.
So I have to ask you: Save or Kill the animals?
H: *laughs* You gotta kill the animals. It’s a speedrun, you gotta go fast.
K: See, I don’t like either option. I’m going to steal from Matt [Merkle], I really liked when you just ‘mock the animals’, tease them, make it look like you’re about to save them and just run out. That’s my favorite, and it apparently wasn’t a popular donation incentive, so it’s just purely save or kill now. But that’s my favorite, because you get the people that want to save them so excited and then it’s just ‘Nope!’. [OR Note: I did an interview at AGDQ 2020 (Part 1/2) with Matt Merkle where we talked about ‘taunting’ the animals.]
H: Yeah, and if you were to ask me during an on site, my actual answer would be ‘Whichever one is losing the bid war.’ It’s all about the donations man, all about how much money we can get for that charity. And so I’m always rooting for whichever one is currently in second place. *laughs* I will turn heel so fast on that.
OR: Thank you very much!
What do you think of their favorite and least favorite games that they’ve run so far on The First Step?
Do you have a different favorite game that they’ve played?
Let us know in the comments below!
Games Done QuickGDQHobzJ_HobzJHobzKeizaronspeedrunSpeedrunningThe First Step