Celeste Review

Ain’t no mountain high enough to keep me from getting to strawberries.

Image Source: Matt Makes Games Inc.

Upon completing Super Mario Odyssey I found myself craving a platformer with more challenge and oh boy did I get it when I decided to download Celeste. On the surface, Celeste has a very cutesy aesthetic the characters speak in gibberish, you collect strawberries just because they’re there. However this simple platformer has complexity in both its story and gameplay.

The first level is relatively easy, you quickly realise that trial and error is what it’s all about to overcome the finicky jumps but the checkpoints are very generous. They’re very much in a way a micro level because the amount of time attempting to beat some of the platforming segments will be what consumes your playtime. This makes Celeste the perfect game for the Nintendo Switch due to its portability you can complete a couple of these micro levels while you’re waiting for the bus. The game even says to you to have pride in your death count because it shows you’re learning. It’s very encouraging and much better then just saying to the player. “Too bad. Try again”.

To aid in you traversal Madeline can dash midair cling onto walls, and wall jump. You then realise that the environment plays more of a part in your journey to the top of this mountain then Madeline’s abilities. Finding out the eb and flow of each levels environmental mechanics gives every level a fresh new learning curve. Such as bouncy clouds, strong gusts of winds and controllable platforms.

The hidden collectables in this game are optional. I couldn’t resist however grabbing a floating strawberry if I saw one. Strawberries don’t offer anything significant except for a cute little moment at the end of the game involving pie. B-sides introduce to you a whole new level in platforming torture. Once discovered in the main level the alternative B-side levels provides some truly pain staking traversal that demands pinpoint perfection. The satisfaction upon completing these levels is like an addictive drug. The post game content for Celeste is overall very generous.

While you’re playing Celeste you can’t help but notice the haunting and atmospheric soundtrack. It really helped me ease my frustration while playing the more challenging levels. It’s obvious that Matt Makes Games Inc. values Lena Raine’s soundtrack by having a Soundcloud excerpt of her soundtrack on Celeste’s homepage.

What sets Celeste apart is it’s uplifting and emotional story that is totally unheard of in this genre of games. Simply put Celeste deals with anxiety and depression but how the story deals with this complex illness will most likely strike a cord with every player. It’s also what motivates you to keep on playing, any other game the goal would be tangible but here it’s deeply personal. All Mario has to do is grab the top of that flagpole, for Madeline she has to deal with her personal struggles along the way. This is portrayed effectively when riding a cable car to the next level and the cable car shakes side to side this is all due to Madeline’s dark side, her amalgamation of negative feelings make her believe this is happening. Poor Madeline is helpless and has a panic attack, her friend Theo however comforts her by having her picturing a feather gently fluttering in the breeze. You, the player have to keep the feather afloat. It’s a sweet moment and the feather is even used as an empowering tool within the gameplay letting you fly temporarily. The way Matt Makes Games Inc. incorporated this theme within Celeste is beautiful.

Celeste is definitely worth checking out for those longing for a meaningful challenge. It’s very much Super Meat Boy but with more soul. The difficulty drives you around the bend at parts and I would’ve loved a multiplayer option with a friend playing as Theo to provide that helping hand but these problems are mostly due to my shortcomings and not the design of such a well-crafted, tight little platformer with a lot of heart.

Celeste is available to download on Steam (PC or Mac), Playstation 4,  Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One for £17.99

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Celeste has been awarded the following badges:

Badge icon "Creation (2536)" provided by Jakob Vogel, from The Noun Project under Creative Commons - Attribution (CC BY 3.0)Badge icon "Bullhorn (1580)" provided by Travis Yunis, from The Noun Project under Creative Commons - Attribution (CC BY 3.0)Badge icon "Strength (4754)" provided by Sergey Krivoy, from The Noun Project under Creative Commons - Attribution (CC BY 3.0)

Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition Review

The game that packs a saucy punch.

Guacamelee!_STCE_hero_art

Image Source: Wikicommons

Some say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. This is most certainly the case for video games with Nintendo effectively writing the rulebook for innovative titles. Drinkbox studios convey lots of fondness in there Mexican themed platformer for the early breakthrough days of Nintendo and package it into a humorous and cheeky game that also spans multiple genres.

Guacamelee is effectively a 2D beat em up, platform game with puzzle elements, in a maze like environment. This is Guacamelee’s greatest strength in making all these gameplay elements mix together to create a wholesome experience that is familiar yet fresh, much like the taste of guacamole itself.

The game is effectively a love letter to the old Nintendo classics. Avid fans will pick up some of the subtle background references while others are more apparent. If you have played any game from the Metroid franchise Guacamelee will seem very familiar to you. Seeing that Nintendo haven’t released a Metroid game for a while, Guacamelee is the next best thing.

Players take up the role of Juan a plain and ordinary Mugabe farmer who from an unusual turn of events becomes a Luchador. With no voice acting, Guacamelee relies on character models to define their personas. Juan’s body language is slouched with a miserable expression on his face but from his radical and quite ludicrous transformation, becomes a strong confidant protagonist. The villain of game, an evil skeleton man named Carlos Calaca also has a hilariously tragic backstory.

The art style takes Mexican culture’s vibrancy and turns it into a fun visual aesthetic which is very reminiscent of a 90’s Saturday morning cartoon. It is clear that Guacamelee is fuelled by nostalgia through both its gameplay and visuals. Guacamelee is also respectful to Mexican folklore and is never ridiculed to the point of insult.

Guacamelee is however very much one of those ‘where the hell do I go kind of games’ which isn’t everyone’s cup of tea because of the amount of patience needed in navigating through the multiple paths. This non-linear structure is both a blessing and a curse, providing the player a plethora of options of where to go while being hard to know for certain which path is needed to progress. This may try certain players patience.

What makes Guacamelee carve it’s own space from the Nintendo classics it pays homage to, is the Luchador themed combat. Pulling off attacks doesn’t require perplexing button inputs and is immensely rewarding performing grapples and throws. Additional special moves are progressively taught to you as you play through Gucamelee, allowing a variety of moves to be mastered.

Later on in the game, Guacamelee provides some interesting platforming sections that require flipping between parallel worlds to advance through the level. It all gets quite mind-boggling but the ingenuity in the game design can be admired at its most here.

Guacamelee is a joyous mash em up full of upbeat adventure. It’s controls have a lot of depth but are easily accessible. Deciphering where to go and what to do is an additional challenge that may hinder the experience for some but overall it’s a great game kids and their parents can play together with Guacamelee providing a co-operative mode. Checking out this kooky 2D sidescroller is a must for those longing for little bit of retro in there modern day gaming library.

Guacamelee: Super Turbo Championship Edition is available now for download on Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Playstation Vita, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One for £11:99

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Guacamelee has been awarded the following badges:

Badge icon "Strength (4754)" provided by Sergey Krivoy, from The Noun Project under Creative Commons - Attribution (CC BY 3.0)Badge icon "Clown (2624)" provided by Simon Child, from The Noun Project under Creative Commons - Attribution (CC BY 3.0)