A few months ago, Chapter 9: Farewell, the long-awaited DLC for Celeste was finally released on Nintendo Switch.
In an official Dev Blog, developer Matt Thorton revealed that one of the key inspirations for Celeste Chapter 9 was Super Mario World’s Special Zone. This inspiration mainly comes through in the style of the levels in terms of their difficulty and “remixing the game’s objects”.
Chapter 9 wasn’t supposed to have any explicit story. 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.
That said, Thorton and the team eventually decided that it wasn’t enough for the new levels to simply be hard or innovative, they also had to be connected to the story. It was for this reason that the project’s scope eventually expanded from a small chapter to its current size.
“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.”
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