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The Daily Backlog 104

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I’ve been having a blast with the wonderfully challenging Celeste, but what exactly is it about games like this that I enjoy?

What IS a Celeste?

Happy Thursday backloggers!! It’s that time of week again where all we can think about is how it’s still not Friday! That and why the heck this week is taking so long? Regardless of how your week is going though, we can always fall back on the fact there will be a console (or gaming PC I guess) waiting for us at the end of the day. Where you can unwind and lose yourself in the wonderful world of video games!

So, as many of your are aware, and if you’ve been following me on Twitter it’s been painfully obvious, I’ve been playing the fantastic Celeste. That notoriously clever, well designed and challenging platformer by Matt Makes Games. And although I’m going to save my full impressions of the game for a later date, I thought I’d try to squeeze in some thoughts about it before then. Well, not necessarily about the game itself but more on the type of game it is – a challenging platformer, and why it appeals to me. That and how good design can turn something that could easily be frustrating and “controller breaking” inducing, into a satisfying and fun experience!!

Consistency and Predictability

When I think of challenging platformers, the first one that comes to mind is Super Meat Boy. It’s the first game that had me blissfully plugging away at a level dying hundreds of times trying to complete it. Now, I know there were plenty of other platforming games out there that were hard, such as Ghouls n’ Ghosts and the like. Believe me, they have their place. But this was really the first one that was focused on its formidable difficulty, and all the better because of it! Now, when I say challenging platformer I’m more talking about those types of games that test your mastery of their controls, their dastardly physics and the masochistic design tendencies of their developers. Where the only thing holding you back from success is your own ability to make that dang jump!! Or dodge that deadly wall of spikes. And that, is one of the key points!

A good platformer like Celeste or Super Meat Boy, has to have tight and responsive controls and predictable physics. Where specific actions have specific rules and reactions. This makes it so that the player is able to know exactly what will happen when they execute a particular operation. Then all you need to do is hone that knowledge and practice until you can follow through with a skillful sequence of actions that will lead to a successful run! A great example is in Celeste, where there are moving blocks that will zoom along a track and launch you great distances based on your momentum. If that didn’t behave the exact same way each time you tried, it would be near impossible to reach the goal! Sure you’ll die dozens of times trying to perfect that jump, but you know that if you try long enough you’ll eventually get it. And it’s true bliss when you do!

Time is of the Essence

Okay, we all know a well designed game that has responsive controls and predictable mechanics is a good thing. And there are plenty of games out there that demonstrate this. But there is one last thing that makes a world of difference when playing a game like Celeste. I’m not going to say it’s just the satisfaction of completing a series of death defying obstacle courses filled with treacherous pits and bone crushing booby traps, because it’s more than that. Actually, it’s much simpler than that. And that my friends is the time it takes to respawn!

You could honestly have the best game in the whole world with the fanciest graphics, clever puzzles and rainbows that shoot out your butt. However, if it takes me 5 minutes to get back in the game after I die, it won’t take me long to get frustrated and throw the controller across the room. P.S.A. don’t throw you controllers kids, you could hurt yourself, others and your wallet. I mean, I could retry the same section in Celeste a good 100 times trying to finish it without blinking an eye and never getting frustrated! Well, I’ll get frustrated at myself for not being able to do it for the 100th time, but never the game. And that’s because it’s a split second between reloads.

The super timely respawn fuels the whole, “I need to try one more time” attitude, and lessens the blow of failing. Truthfully, in games that don’t do it, the biggest motivator to succeed is knowing that if you fail, you’re going to have to wait an exorbitant amount of time before your next attempt. And when you do fail, you’ll have a hard talk with yourself debating if you should try again. Because time is strawberries and you could just be playing Celeste instead.

Number of Degrees Fahrenheit Corresponding to 40 Celsius

And that’ll do it for today my dear backloggers!! Just in case it wasn’t clear, Celeste does not suffer from any of these things! In fact it’s probably one of the best games of it’s genre that I’ve played in a long time! I find myself saying “I’m just going to play it for a few minutes” and end up playing it for an hour. Because I can’t put it down until I beat this spot! Then I just need to try the next one a few times to see what it’s like. I think you can see where it going from there.

I’ve also been playing more of the hectic and adorable Lapis x Labyrinth with my wife these past few days. And although I’m really liking it, it does have a few problems that I’ll talk about in the coming days. Primarily, it seems to be suffering from the Destiny 2 “lack of good loot” syndrome.

Anyways, I hope you all have a great rest of your Not Friday, and I’ll see you tomorrow!!

Currently Playing

Our World is Ended (Switch)

Celeste (Xbox One)

Lapis x Labyrinth (PlayStation 4)

Total Backlogged Games: 721 …The number of tries to beat the B-Side!

Total Completed Games: 27 …the number of deaths to strawberries ratio!!

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And you can keep tabs on my backlog by checking out the Backlog Odyssey Backloggery game list!