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The Pop Culture Wing of Hot Corner Harbor

Monday, September 24, 2018

Music Monday: Summer 2018 Playlist

I’ve been listening to a lot of great music this past summer, and I wanted to do something to highlight it. The end of summer seemed like a good time to commemorate it, and I struggled with ways to cut it down and focus on some select songs or artists, but eventually, I just decided to go with a long, uncut list to get a wider scope. That meant cutting the writing part of this so this didn’t balloon into a novella, but I think the music is strong enough to speak for itself (and maybe there will be more writing on some of it to come).

If you find something you really like, I definitely encourage looking into these artists more. I didn’t want the list to spiral even more out of control, so I had to put some limits in pace, but a lot of these are snippets of really strong albums, or artists who are newer and could do with some new listeners. Take a listen!


Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Celeste Perfectly Unites Story, Theme, and Gameplay

Continuing my ongoing attempt to highlight and analyze amazing indie games (especially those on the Switch), I would like to discuss one of the year’s best titles, Celeste by Extremely OK Games (previously of Towerfall fame*). For anyone curious, I played the Switch version, but it’s available on pretty much any platform you’d want to play it on.

*Which, it was recently announced, is itself coming to the Switch at the end of September, if you haven’t tried it yet and are looking for an excuse; it’s wonderful in its own right!

Celeste is a rare beast, a game that is mechanically tight, incredibly well-designed level-wise, and fun to play while also being an incredibly moving narrative and thematic experience. For those who haven’t heard of it yet, the premise is pretty simple: a girl named Madeline arrives at a remote peak (the titular Celeste Mountain), looking to escape some sort of (initially undefined) personal trauma by climbing it. Along the way, she meets a variety of figures that aid her in her journey, with the entire story rendered in some simple-yet-beautiful pixel art graphics, and with one of my favorite game soundtracks supporting the whole thing.

The game is an incredibly tough platformer, challenging players in a variety of ways while also being one of the more forgiving games of its kind. Save points are frequent in the normal course of a level and carry through between sessions, and on top of that, the game has a variety of options to tweak the challenge in almost any way imaginable so that anyone can feel comfortable playing it, regardless of whether or not you’re the type of person who can beat a classic Mario game in ten minutes. That in and of itself is pretty notable; Game Makers Toolkit has more on these features, which is definitely a worth a watch.

If you’re at all curious about it and want to go in unspoiled of the deeper plot details, I would absolutely recommend trying it! From here on out, I’ll be getting pretty deep into the nitty-gritty of the story.