As many in the United States head home for the long weekend, let's end the week by taking a look back at Celeste. For many months, creator Matt Thorson and the rest of the game's development team had been hard at work on Chapter 9. What was thought to be a mere extra level pack quickly grew to be something greater, with the final product finally shipping out a few months ago. Earlier this week, Thorson and the team at Extremely Ok Games reflected back on what went into Celeste: Chapter 9 and how much it had changed over the course of development.
"Chapter 9 wasn't supposed to have any explicit story," Thorson mused on the Extremely Ok Games website. "The original plan was to make just 30-50 new screens of super-difficult junk that remixed all the main game's objects in interesting new combinations. A big inspiration, which stayed with us the whole way through, was the Special Zone from Super Mario World. I designed a lot of levels in this style. Most of them ended up comprising one section of Farewell, after Madeline catches the bird for the first time (they're easy to spot). The new cassette block rooms were originally going to mark the end of the chapter. I thought of it as another B-Side that could slot in after the C-Sides."
While the plan was to indeed treat Chapter 9 as whole new batch of more difficult stages, things soon changed. Given Celeste's narrative weight, the decision was made to give Madeline some new story content.
"We flip-flopped on whether to go all-in on narrative - new cutscenes, dialog, and portraits - for a while. We were pretty eager to start our next project, so we were inclined to keep the scope of this chapter small. But as work continued, we got the sense that it just wouldn't feel whole unless it took Madeline somewhere new narratively as well as mechanically."
The whole blog entry is a fascinating read for those who have followed Celeste's development and came to enjoy one of the best games of 2018. Just be wary of spoilers for the Chapter 9 narrative content, but if you've already completed it, you're encouraged to add this to your evening reading list.
If you haven't played Celeste yet and you enjoy challenging platformers, by all means, pick it up during the Black Friday weekend. Nintendo has the digital version available as part of its Black Friday sale, while Steam and the Epic Games Store both have it as part of their respective holiday sales.