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News EXOK Games Releases Celeste 64: Fragments of the Mountain on PC/Linux (for free!)

VolcanicDynamo

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To celebrate the sixth anniversary of Celeste, the original development team (EXOK Games) has released a short but sweet new entry that takes Madeline to the third dimension.
Relive the magic of Celeste Mountain alongside Madeline in this small, heartfelt 3D platformer. Created in a week(ish) by the Celeste team to celebrate the game’s sixth anniversary 🍓✨
The game is currently available for PC and Linux, with a macOS version coming soon. You can grab it on itch.io, and the source code has been released on github.

Having played most but not all of it, the team did a great job of capturing Celeste's mechanics in a 3D space while also adding some more Mario-esque movement mechanics. The map reminds me a lot of Bowser's Fury, as does how Strawberry collection works. The team may be less experienced with 3D, but for a two week dev time and for a free release, this is an excellent time I highly recommend.
 
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I’ve already tried it out for a bit! Gonna try and find some more time into hunting for those strawberries
 
Literally so excited to try this out, I can't wait to get home and play it!
 
Took awhile to track down the last 6 strawberries I was missing; but super fun! Honestly in awe at this being made in under 2 weeks, and with the libraries intended for 2D games they're already accustomed to; Maddy and co are incredibly talented (though I don't think that's news, lol).

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I've collected 26 of the 30 strawberries, but I'll call it for now since I have work in the morning. Overall this is an extremely impressive effort. I would not be surprised to see this on my games of the year list for 2024.

The mechanics of Celeste were translated really well into 3D, and the tweaks and new moves they did add made for a fun exploration platformer. I had a few difficulties with depth perception with some of the more precision segments (that kinda gameplay is always gonna be easier in a 2D space), but deaths are as forgiving as they were in the prior games. There could be some refinements here and there - I found myself slipping off platforms at points and I would have appreciated a button to re-center the camera - but for two weeks of dev time and the low price of free, these issues fade away and I instead think of how cool it was of the team to learn 3D and make this little project. It's legitimately inspiring as someone who wants to make games!

While Earthblade is surely their top priority, I'm excited to see EXOK eventually tackle a full length 3D game. If this is what they can pull off with 2 week's time, imagine the gem we'd get with even just a few months, let alone years of work.
 
Just finished. Love the blobby little Madeline model toddling around, it's very funny.

First off, false advertising, this is obviously a DS game, like A Short Hike.

Second, this is interesting as a translation of Celeste because it carries over almost none of the mechanical depth and the only new concessions are the infinite stamina for climbing and the Mario side flip, so despite taking after Mario and actually being pretty faithful and well-executed in what it does carry over, the movement is significantly less freeform than the 2D version. The reason for this is obvious: translating Celeste to 3D is very hard. I'd almost say the two are heavily at odds with each other. There's a little bit of friction here between the breezy exploration games it's imitating and Celeste's intensity, similar to the problems you encounter when you make a Metroidvania too difficult: it turns exploration into tedium when just getting anywhere is a challenge. Not that this is nearly as dire as A Sister's Journey, which literally went and asked "what if every room of this Metroidvania was Celeste?" Still, familiarity with the game can only do so much to alleviate this because Madeline is generally just a lot less capable than Mario in the end. I think there's a fun kind of tension to climbing something precarious in Mario 64 or Sunshine, but that's due to the movement in those games being geared more towards weighty momentum rather than fidgety precision. Here, you're definitely limited in your ability to just have fun messing around and moving for the sake of it because there's less flexibility to your character and just a bit too much death surrounding you.

The most... I guess I'd say informative part of the game was the Mario Sunshine parody cassette levels. Very funny the first time, by the 50th death it becomes somewhat cursed. But anyway, these are neat as the purest expression of "what if Celeste was 3D?" in the game, but the last one in particular highlights something very odd: I'm not sure this concept is workable without a fixed camera. Never before have I been so aware of the influence camera angle has on movement in a 3D platformer. It's something I'm used to subconsciously adjusting for as I walk along a twisting path, but this makes me hyper aware of how my exact trajectory changes drastically depending on the viewpoint, especially the blind jump over the spike wall at the start where I have to twist the camera at just the right time in midair to be able to get the right movements to grab onto the other side. You'd think simply pulling back after Madeline is over the wall would do it, but you can't really pull back on a dash, which is completely fine in 2D but often makes this game harder than it needs to be because you need to space your jumps perfectly but only have a rough estimate of the exact distance you'll travel unless you are able to maintain a side view. This final cassette level is the only part of the game that really has the same difficulty as a B-Side or something, where you slowly put together a sequence of perfect movements that will make it to the end of a gauntlet, and it highlights the biggest reason why I'm skeptical of Celeste working in 3D. This is arguably the single hardest and most complicated platforming section I've ever done in a 3D game by a large margin. Needing to work the camera and memorize the exact right angle for every jump on top of the normal difficulty is too unintuitive and overall too much, hence the thought that this might require fixed camera angles for the results to be manageable. I'm sure it's all moot anyway though, there's little chance the concept is ever developed beyond this, and any future 3D game they made would be designed that way from the ground up.

Celeste series ranking:
1. Celeste
2. Celeste Classic
3. Celeste 64
4. Celeste Classic 2
 
This game is SO good! Having such a fun time playing it! I made it to the end, but I didn't get all the strawberries. I think I'm gonna try to get them all!

Also this was SO hard to do!!

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100% this last night in about 2 hrs... Amazing work by an amazing team. I'm kinda curious if the dialogue about what Maddy's going through is supposed to parallel thoughts about Earthblade development or something that dev Maddy is going through in life.

Anyway, this is the perfect gift for Celeste fans imo. And for me especially, it's just a dream game. Definitely my favorite 2024 game so far!
 
This game is SO good! Having such a fun time playing it! I made it to the end, but I didn't get all the strawberries. I think I'm gonna try to get them all!

Also this was SO hard to do!!

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this level almost filtered me lol, it was only my 29th strawberry too so i still had to track down the last one when i left

i really liked this tho, honestly i think i might have liked how it felt more than celeste proper. super impressed they made this is under two weeks and would love to see them expand on it.
 
this level almost filtered me lol, it was only my 29th strawberry too so i still had to track down the last one when i left

i really liked this tho, honestly i think i might have liked how it felt more than celeste proper. super impressed they made this is under two weeks and would love to see them expand on it.

I feel like after this, the rest of the strawberries are gonna be super easy! Gonna try and get the rest tomorrow.

It's really impressive how well the Celeste mechanics translate to 3D! And most of all, I loved meeting all the characters again, and learning what Maddy's been up to. It's really sweet!
 
Ok this is kinda amazing for something made in a week(ish) and the Celeste formula translates surprisingly well to 3D.
 
Earlier today I went back and got all 30 strawberries! It was so much fun tracking them all down! Some of them were really well hidden too... the last one I found involved the "?" tile, and I had to ask a friend for a hint with it.

This was such a great surprise! It's so cute and charming, from the little blocky models to the dialogue. And that great music! I love the Mario Sunshine-esque tune that plays in the B-sides. I can already tell this will end up being one of my favorite games of the year!
 


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