Hunting Down Missing Strawberries in Celeste

A couple years ago, I wrote a review about my experiences with Celeste, a super difficult game about climbing a mountain.  The game was amazing, don’t get me wrong, but it was also quite a trial.  And while I did manage to complete the main game (chapters 1-7), there’s a whole lot that I didn’t do.  I barely collected any strawberries, I missed many of the B-side tapes, and I didn’t collect any of the crystal hearts.  And so, recently, I decided I would revisit this game and see if I could finally make some substantial progress as far as those overlooked collectibles were concerned.

My Goal: Collect all strawberries, B-side tapes, and crystal hearts in chapters 1-7.

As expected, I started with chapter 1, and everything went quite well.  I found many more strawberries, and I even managed to locate the first crystal heart all on my own, though I had to look up a video online in order to actually collect it.  (You have to dash in a specific sequence for it to appear.)  I didn’t collect every strawberry in chapter 1, but I could always return later.  For now, I moved on to chapter 2 and did my best to gather up even more strawberries, though the crystal heart remained elusive.

At first, I had a rather fun time just looking for my missing collectibles.  That is, until I reached chapter 3.  Just like my original playthrough, I really didn’t enjoy the Celestial Resort at all.  This dilapidated hotel has all sorts of obstacles, including strange moving balls of…soot…corruption (no idea) that zip back and forth, making this whole place a huge pain to traverse.  I struggled through roughly the first half of the chapter, into the section where you have to organize all the junk that’s been left everywhere.  I even managed to find PICO-8, which I hear is the original concept for the game!  It was at this point, however, that I decided that my goal was probably not worth my time.

Maybe this was a bad idea, I thought.  This game is too difficult for me.  I didn’t enjoy many sections of it the first time.  Why would I want to do it again?

I quit the game, turned off my PS4, and went about my business.  Until…

A couple weeks passed, and I was struck with a renewed urge to give my mission another chance.  I really wasn’t ready to quit just yet.  Long story short, I worked my way through chapters 3 and 4, missing a few strawberries along the way.  But I had made a lot of progress, and every strawberry, B-side tape, and crystal heart that I collected filled me with enough of a sense of accomplishment to propel me onward.

I can do this, I thought.  It may not be easy, but that’s all the more reason to keep going.

One night, I worked through chapter 5, one of my favorite chapters in the game due to the dark and eerie environment and the decent amount of freedom to explore.  I still hated those monsters that chased you near the end, but overall, I had a pretty fun time with this one.  Then I got the B-side tape and crystal heart in chapter 6, grateful that this particular leg of the game was completely lacking in strawberries.  I remember the section where you have to deal with Badeline being especially awful, so I was quite pleased that I didn’t have to revisit that nightmare.

At this point in my mission, I wasn’t quite ready to tackle chapter 7, however, so I employed the help of some online walkthroughs to find the remaining items I had missed in the first 6 chapters.  Yes, I usually prefer to find collectibles on my own, but I was just not having any luck with some of the more elusive items, and I really didn’t want to have to keep repeating the more difficult sections of the game searching through every nook and cranny for one or two missing berries.

Well, I found the remaining collectibles in chapters 1-6 in this manner, and all that remained was chapter 7, which caused me no shortage of headaches last time I played.  Refusing to tackle this challenge more than once, I found myself a walkthrough that I could follow along with, opened up a can of soda, and began my ascent.

Early into the process, I received a text, and while I can’t get into the details, I can say that it related to a rather painful event that we were going through at this time in our lives.  And so, with the added hindrance of tears streaming down my face, I continued to push onward towards the summit of Celeste Mountain.

The trek was a difficult one, but it was much easier than my initial playthrough.  I mainly struggled with one strawberry that required me to bounce high on a cloud, leading to the discovery that jumping after the controller rumbles is actually the best way to reach maximum cloud-bounciness.  Eventually, I had done it.  I had collected everything in the game’s first seven chapters (in the A-sides, anyway).  To really relish the moment, I continued climbing just a bit more until I had reached the summit and got to see my delicious pie, containing an excessive 170 strawberries!  (Instead of taking a screenshot like a normal person, I just snapped a few photos with my phone to share my great accomplishment with you all!)

Climbing a mountain sure makes you hungry

After this, I even completed PICO-8, which wasn’t exactly tons of fun, but at least I can say that I did it.  And the clunky gameplay certainly helped me to really appreciate the finished game that we all know and love today!

Wow, I’m not good at this, either…

And there you have it, folks, a quick look at my journey back through Celeste, a game that really pushed my gaming skills to their limits.  I have a newfound love for this game now, and I’m pleased to discover that I’ve clearly improved because this return to Celeste was quite a bit easier than last time.  Not easy, mind you, just easier.  I’m definitely not the best Celeste player out there.  No, not even close.  This is made abundantly clear when I watch videos of people completing the B-side tapes (or even C-side!) like it’s nothing.  But perhaps I shouldn’t focus so much on competing with others and just be satisfied that the gamer I am today is better than the one I was a mere two years ago.

Don’t judge me!

But what happened next:  About a week after meeting my goal, I attempted the B-side of chapter 1.  After completing a few screens, I promptly quit.  It would seem the B-sides are not comfortably within my skill level at this time.  Perhaps in a few years, I’ll tackle them, as well.  But for now, I do not have the time or the patience for them!