The greater speedrunning community is a web of smaller communities where players come together over common interests. In this series, we want to highlight communities and community members who help to make speedrunning what it is.
Bobby Cruz, aka TheBlacktastic, holds multiple records in various retro and retro-style games.
Beyond that, he is a community moderator, a game show host for Games Done Quick, an esports event producer, and a Twitch partner. But no matter what he’s doing, Cruz brings his personal charm everywhere he goes.
In a recent record-breaking run of Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2, originally streamed at two in the morning, he slides between jokes and commentary on the game.
Occasionally he drops into both recognizable and unique character voices, noting that he dreams of becoming a voice actor.
Even exhausted and “slap-happy,” he performs the run and the stream with personability and skill.
Getting started with speedrunning
Cruz’s interest in speedrunning can be traced back to the early 2010s when he and his local gaming friends would gather to play fighting games and watch speedruns of Super Mario 64.
“I always admired the amount of technical skill and patience required to dedicate one's self to the craft of speedrunning,” Cruz said.
Cruz didn’t begin posting his own runs for several years. Eventually, he started running Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and the rest was history.
Since then, his list of runs has only grown.
His current records include multiple first-place runs in Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon and Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2; first-place runs in the Mega Man Legacy Collection 1 + 2 versions of Mega Man 9 (Proto Man Category) and Mega Man 10 (Bass Category); first place in Castlevania: Rondo of Blood; and multiple highly ranked runs in other games.
With as much experience as he has speedrunning, Cruz has a good idea of which kinds of games appeal to him as a runner.
“I’m extremely particular when it comes to my games,” Cruz says.
Regardless of when it was actually released, if he is going to run a game then it needs to have a retro feel with controls that are both crisp and responsive.
He says he enjoys “games that require and reward trial and error and then execution.”
In addition to his own enjoyment, Cruz wants his runs to be equally fun for his viewers.
“I always like incorporating a bit of visual spectacle because if it’s fun for me, I want it to be fun for someone else to watch,” he says.
Cruz enjoys the ways speedrunners can bring new life to older, sometimes forgotten games through exploration and mastery.
Perhaps even more than that, he loves competition.
Cruz as a host
Over on the Games Done Quick Twitch channel, Cruz co-hosts “Super Boss Bros” with fellow speedrunner, Big Jon.
Together, Cruz and Big Jon cook up fun and categories for contestants to face-off and show off their retro speedrunning chops.
Rounds tend to last about a half-hour and usually focus on a short race like who can get to beat level 20 first in Dr. Mario or a timed trial to see which player can accomplish the most of a specific task in the time limit like collecting coins in Super Mario Bros 3.
As hosts, Cruz and Big Jon have amusing and genuine chemistry. They laugh about running animations in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past randomizer, discuss the meta nature of providing commentary for Mario Golf in hushed golf-announcer voices, and argue whether or not a stage hazard in Bonk’s Adventure is a uvula.
“[Big Jon] loves the old-school, PG, weekday-night game shows and I just love the flame of competition,” Cruz says.
When it comes to the speedrunning communities he frequents, Cruz considers the retro platforming scenes to be “extremely, really really good, wholesome communities.”
In addition to the friendships he’s found there, he also admires the spirit of solidarity in these spaces.
In fact, Cruz mentioned Castlevania4aCause, which started in 2019 as a streaming event where Castlevania-community-member Aphotic_Ktulu put together a charity marathon stream to help a community member cover some overwhelming medical bills. Since then, the event has become a recurring opportunity for the classic Castlevania community to raise money for charitable causes and other community members in need.
“I love being part of things like that and I love being around people who are doing things like that,” he says, revealing that in addition to games and competition, Cruz just cares about people plain and simple.
The Black Cup
Outside of speedrunning, Cruz has a long-standing love for competitive fighting games.
He enjoys them so much that he produces The Black Cup, a monthly fighting game tournament series featuring different games for each installment.
Additionally, The Black Cup previously hosted the Bloodstained Speedrun Exhibition Series, so there’s something there for everyone.
The next installment of The Black Cup is set for February 28 at 3 p.m. EST.
Links to Cruz’s social media are available at https://solo.to/theblacktastic.
Header photo courtesy of Bobby Cruz.