Penny’s Big Breakaway Is The First Game I Want To Speedrun

Penny’s Big Breakaway is at its best when you’re going lightning fast — which makes it perfect for speedrunning.

Penny's Big Breakaway Is The First Game I Want To Speedrun

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learnt as a gaming journalist (and especially as a news editor) is that it’s near impossible to dedicate as much time to individual games as you’d like to, especially when you’re confronted with years like 2023 and what we’ve seen in the first two months of 2024. That means, except for a few rare occasions, I usually only get to see games through to the credits once before moving on to whatever’s next.

Penny’s Big Breakaway is one of those once-in-a-blue-moon releases where I’m not thinking about the next 50-hour RPG on my backlog, instead taking the time to see everything that the game has to offer. That doesn’t just mean diving back into every level and finding every collectible, though, as Penny’s Big Breakaway has stirred a feeling in me I’ve never felt for any other game — I want to speedrun it.

I like to think that I’m generally pretty good at games. I’m not going to be competing at EVO or livestreaming an attempt at beating Elden Ring with my pinky finger, but I can get through most titles without trouble and usually stretch to the harder difficulty if it’s something I’m having a particularly good time with.

Don’t even let me tell you about the time I beat Sifu in the review period before it got patched to be easier…

As I noted in my preview of the first few worlds of Penny’s Big Breakaway, I initially had a lot of trouble getting used to its momentum-based platforming, often finding myself slowly moving down slopes and not riding Yo-Yo as fast as the game seemingly wanted me to. But now that I’m starting over again for the review, that’s not the case anymore.

At some point between the first and second worlds, Penny’s Big Breakaway‘s movement clicked for me. I was no longer struggling with the fiddly controls and forgetting to dash as I safely and slowly jumped from platform to platform. Instead, I was zipping around like a certain blue hedgehog, timing Penny’s double-jump flip to pull out Yo-Yo and jet around each level like there was a rocket attached to my back.

Finally learning how to move Penny around properly turned a charming game that felt slightly too slow and awkward into one of the most satisfying and fast-paced 3D platformers I’ve played in a long while. Penny’s Big Breakaway is at its absolute best when you’re moving through it at a lightning pace, which has dragged me into the speedrunning world for the first time.

Initially, I just focused on getting the best possible times for each level after going through them once to get the lay of the land. This was fun enough and let me take the movement mechanics (particularly swinging from the yo-yo at the exact right point) to the extreme and blast through levels, ignoring every side thing and focusing on racing to the flag.

Beating my own times and seeing how much faster I’d gotten was initially enough for me, but then I saw some of the wild things that more skilled players were doing with the game. Take Twitter user thats_DILO, for example, who somehow managed to beat the first level in just over a minute-and-a-half by almost entirely skipping sections with masterful use of the yo-yo. I’ve yet to get close to that time or level of skill but ever since seeing that clip, I’ve been stuck on the first world trying to replicate even a little bit of that run’s magic.

I’m sure by the time I’ve figured out how to skip the ziplines and shave a few seconds off my time, there’ll be even more players who have figured out even faster methods, but that hasn’t stopped me from sinking far too much of the free time I planned on using to finish Infinite Wealth into trying to get a charming clown to swing off a yo-yo at the right angle.

As of the time of writing, I still haven’t finished Penny’s Big Breakaway and seemingly still have a few worlds to go. That’d usually send me into a literal gaming pit that I don’t leave until I start seeing names fly across the screen, but Penny’s Big Breakaway has reminded me how satisfying it is to stick with a game until you master it.

If, like me, your favourite part of a platformer is getting to grips with its movement mechanic and then messing with them until you’re basically breaking the game, then I can’t recommend Penny’s Big Breakaway enough. It’s one of the best platforming playgrounds I’ve experienced, and the first one I want to plant my speedrunning flag in.

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