Before starting this Free Game of the Week project, I had no idea how popular Celeste Classic modding was. Turns out: it’s a big deal! This one, Scrolleste, went live yesterday. Since then, there are already two more – including Backwards Celeste, which makes Madeline walk backwards.
Scrolleste falls into the “weird experiments” category, and I think it’s super cool. It basically just makes the following two changes to the original game:
1: All of the levels are stitched together into one continuous level.
2. There’s a rising lava floor.
This is a game for the most hardcore of hardcore Celeste Classic fans – it does feature a difficulty selector in the menu, but it sort of doesn’t matter? The baseline difficulty requires you to be good enough to complete the original game with zero deaths. It’s way beyond what I can do, but I still think it’s really interesting.
There’s a games-as-art question that does the rounds on twitter occasionally – if you have a concept like this, where most people aren’t even going to be able to play it anyway, does it even matter that the thing exists? Maybe the “idea” of the thing is the important part of the experience? Idk. Anyway, here’s a video of this being completed on expert difficulty:
Yesterday, Ian released a new, updated version of Catacombs of Solaris, and it reminded me of this project he worked on last year that I really liked.
If we were allowed to visit is an anthology of poems by poet Gemma Mahadeo, rendered by game designer Ian MacLarty. You explore a sparse, rural Australian landscape, visualised as words implying the shapes around you. Each individual object has a text representation, usually a poem written by Gemma about that thing. As you move around the scene, a lot of care is taken from a technical perspective to ensure that any given screenshot of the game stands alone as a new generative poem.
I first encountered the game during a talk by Gemma and Ian at Freeplay 2019, where they showed an in-development prototype. I was absolutely blown away. Just, wow! This project is such a perfectly realised collaboration. Not only of the already unusual combination of poetry-meets-games, but of the particular type of poetry Gemma writes, and the particular type of games Ian makes. I was astonished, bordering on jealous.
The final version really delivers on the promise of that early prototype – it feels like such a pure, complete concept, not one character out of place. It’s really interesting to wander around in too, I enjoyed figuring out the shapes of things as I stumbled around, finding things in the noise, watching a tumbleweed drift by.
This is a collection of 30+ tiny arcade games, each of them delightful, compelling, and playable in seconds. They’re created in what the author calls “Crisp Game Lib“, a personal, puzzlescript-like framework specially made for making these kinds of rapid/minimal arcade things.
This whole thing is just, like, incredibly cool. The games themselves are a blast, especially played as a collection – and the framework behind it all is fascinating. The entirety of each game is contained in a single typescript file, with variables shared across each game – a score, a simple description so that you know what the controls are, and common functions like end() to trigger a game over. Graphics are defined as these big strings where you can block out rough sprite designs:
Want sound effects? You can just write play("jump") or play("explosion"), and it all works. Want background music? set isPlayingBgm to true and it’ll just… generate some. What?
You can find the entire collection on the crisp-game-lib page, but here are a few that I particularly liked:
Ok, so: in GRiPPY, you’re a blobby thing with two big arms and no legs. You can individually fling your arms around – Z for your left arm, X for your right. Hold the keys down to grab stuff and release them to let go. There aren’t exactly a lot of games in this “genre” – I mean I guess if I think very hard I can think of someothergames it’s a little bit like, but it’s a very short list, and this isn’t really like any of those games.
Honestly, who would have thought this would be any good at all?! I’m impressed! At first it just seems like a bad concept – something you maybe think up at a game jam, but don’t actually, you know, MAKE.
GRiPPY defies my expectations and leans all the way into its strange concept, and somehow manages to make it all work. It has great controls, really nice level design and tonnes of weird charm.