A superplay is a playthrough of a game or a section of a game with the most optimal tactics to achieve the best possible score or outcome. Each runner has their personal best score; if their score is higher than the scores of every other runner, the score is deemed the world record. Smaller denominations of records can exist for specific regions, though these are nowadays rare. Typically, runs are completed with a specific method of play in mind, referred to as a strategy (or "strat") or route in the case of a speedrun. A big part of superplays is the effort to find the best strategy: changes in the strategy are called "route optimizations".
Much like tournaments, the only restrictions for runs are in whatever the game's code allows. Certain categories of runs can have their own restrictions, mostly to increase the challenge of that run type. For instance, Classic Mode can either be completed in the fastest time possible or on the highest difficulty in the fastest time possible. Nearly all run types require the original game controller, restricting the use of modded controllers and those with a "turbo" button, as well as a legal copy of the game on its original console, in order to standardize the experience and make it closer to how it was first meant to be played. Some tactics, especially glitches, that are deemed "broken" can also be banned: sometimes, they can even develop into their own categories.
Leaderboards for such records are maintained on sites such as speedrun.com.
Types of superplay
A speedrun (also sometimes referred to as time attack) involves completing a task in the fastest possible time. The most common form of speedrunning is real time attack (RTA for short), which involves completely uninterrupted play of the run in question. Speedruns that allow breaks are generally reserved for runs that are very lengthy and require staying up for over 24 hours, which largely do not exist in the Super Smash Bros. series. Speedruns can either use the in game clock or a real time clock, although most categories require a real time clock.
Due to no game in the Smash series having a clear endpoint, speedrunners instead elected to have runs for portions of the single player offerings that can be completed. Examples include Classic Mode at various difficulties and with different characters, the various Adventure Modes, and the completable modes in Multi-Man Smash. Smash 4 and Ultimate introduced the complication of digital downloads, which often result in different loading times compared to physical games. This resulted in a denomination of which version is being used as well as unique categories.
These runs involve trying to get the highest possible score. The competition to get the highest Home-Run Contest distance is such an example. Another competition is the Ironman challenge, where someone plays as long as possible without losing, often with a stipulation like picking a new character for every game. An online version of this challenge is available for Brawl and onward.
Main article: Tool-assisted superplay
A tool assisted superplay (or tool assisted speedrun in the context of speedrunning. Abbreviated as TAS in both cases) involves the use of programs and emulation software for frame by frame optimization of a run to accomplish the best theoretically possible score. A TAS often involves tricks that cannot feasibly be performed by a human or in real time, such as frame-perfect button-mashing or holding both ends of a control pad down. It can also employ RNG or RAM manipulation for tricks dependent on it, such as having a certain item spawn in a specific location. By their nature, TASes are generated only on an emulator, although the input script can be run on a real console to prove it is technically possible from the game's code. All instances of a TAS are not meant to be taken seriously as an actual superplay; they are only meant to be a display of what a "perfect" run can look like as a benchmark the community can strive for. Even though a TAS' inability to be physically performed by a human forces it to remain separate, it remains a popular run classification with its own strategies and leaderboards.