Celeste Golden Strawberries

If you've talked to me at all over the past three months, you know that I've fallen in love with a game called Celeste. It's a platformer about climbing a mountain. The game has beautiful art, amazing music, and the best depiction of mental health issues I've ever seen in popular media. It's also an incredibly difficult game, which makes me really happy.

One of the hardest challenges in Celeste comes after you have completed the first 16 (of 24) levels, and that is the golden strawberry. Every level gains a golden strawberry at the beginning of the level, and in order to get it, you have to take it to the end of the level without dying. There are 175 normal strawberries in the game, and 24 golden strawberries from deathless runs. There is also one final super secret golden strawberry, for a total of 200 strawberries. I've taken it upon myself to collect every last one of these strawberries to achieve that glorious 200.

The first golden strawberry I got was the super secret one, actually! In order to get it, you have to complete level 1-a without dashing. Yes, it's possible. Yes, it's incredibly difficult. The first time I did this, it took about 6 hours and ~3000 deaths, but the game didn't give me the strawberry at the end, probably because I had dashed at some point and not realized it. I immediately tried this again, and completed the level in 58 minutes and 816 deaths. This time, the game did give me the strawberry!

I didn't want to upload this image to Twitter when I took it, because I was worried about spoiling people about its existence. I have since stopped worrying about this.

Immediately after getting the 1-a dashless golden strawberry, I decided that I wanted to speed run it. I pretty quickly got really good at completing the level without dashing, and I was able to keep improving my time. I ended up buying a capture card so I could record myself running. My current personal best is 3:04.484, which I achieved on April 14th.

I submitted the video to speedrun.com, and as of writing this post, my time is number 7 on the leaderboard:

Here is the leaderboard, although you have to click "Dashless" in order to see it.

After that, I got the golden strawberries for 1-a, 2-c, 2-a, and 4-c. I didn't take any pictures to show these accomplishments off.

The A sides of chapters 1 and 2 were pretty easy, but chapter 3 kicks up the difficulty quite a bit, so I decided to skip forward and try to do 4-a first. This was still more difficult than any other golden strawberry I had gotten so far because of the length of the level. I was so excited when I got the strawberry that I completely fumbled the screenshot button on the Switch, so this tweet doesn't actually show the strawberry resolving:

I spent like 9 days practicing and trying to get the strawberry for 5-a. It's an even longer level than 4-a, and the Theo mechanic in the final section of the level hikes the difficulty up by a lot. That section ended up being the real roadblock for me, because I was able to consistently get up to the Theo section, but when I got there, it was difficult to find repeatable approaches to the rooms. It also took me about 6.5 minutes to get up to Theo each time because I didn't attempt to perform the huge skip in the fourth section.

Regardless, I got it in the end! I also discovered that the Switch allows you to retroactively record 30 seconds of gameplay, so this tweet is a little more exciting, even though the video starts right after the last actual room:

I got 1-c like an hour later.

5-c didn't take much time for me either -- I ended up getting it on a plane the day after I got 5-a and 1-c. If you know me, I don't usually handle flights very well, so it's possible that playing Celeste helped me stay centered. It certainly worked out in favor of my quest to get all 200 strawberries, anyway!

The run was so short that the 30 second video from the Switch was almost enough to capture the entire run, only missing a single second in the beginning, which is a shame because I performed a sweet wave dash to skip an annoying wall kick. I also performed an even sweeter wave dash at the beginning of the third room, though, also to skip an annoying wall kick, so that's still satisfying to watch.

I got 3-c the next day, firmly embedding the thought in my mind that I could probably get all of the A- and C-sides. This is the first deathless strawberry that I managed to record using my capture card, so the video shows the entire run (which was actually only 37 seconds long). My favorite trick I perfomed in this run is the wave dash I used in the second room to avoid having to do any wall kicks, which I'm sure is also responsible for knocking off at least a few seconds from the run.

After doing 3 C-sides in a row, I realized I would have to also do some A-sides. After 1-c, I realized that the C-sides were going to be easier than the A- and B- sides simply because of how short they were, so I was enjoying knocking a few of them off. However, the A-sides are pretty brutal, and I thought it would be nice to be able to intersperse the rest of the A- and C-sides so that I wasn't on one brutal challenge after another. Please ignore how this leaves me with all eight B-sides in a row after finishing the A- and C-sides -- at that point, I didn't think I was going to actually be able to do the B-sides.

So, I finally returned to 3-a, which really did prove to be a challenge, mostly because it's so long. The fight with Oshiro at the end was also particularly frightening. I only have the 30 second video from the Switch, which really does not do this 8.5 minute run justice. You can see the absolutely terrifying moment at around 8:11 in-game-time, though.

I was really worried about chapter 6, but 6-c turned out alright. I have the whole video of this one thanks to my capture card. The only real trick I did was the wave dash at the very beginning, although I do really like the little water hops I did (for no reason) at the end of the second room.

I got 6-a way faster than I expected. It's a long level, and some mechanics like the gold feather and the boss fight can be finnicky. Not to mention the fact that this level is aboslutely covered in spikes. I think part of the reason I got it so quickly was that in my mind, I was still practicing, and thus I was less nervous, because there was less to lose if I died. It was only when I got up to the last room that I realized I was actually going to do it -- my nerves went through the roof, but I didn't mess up! Only a 30 second Switch video this time, because I was literally sitting on a sofa at work during lunch when I got it.

I finished 6-c and 6-a then looked at chapter 7 and went Nope, gonna do 8-c instead. I got it the same day as 6-a and it only took me two hours. I'm super proud of this run, and I got the whole thing on video again. My favorite part is the accelerated hyper dash I do at the beginning of the third room.

I'm a little upset about 7-a. Why? Because I got really good at it. I spent over a week practicing each individual section of the level until I could almost guarantee getting up to the last section. I ended up feeling satisfied with my skill in the last section of the level, so I was like, I'll just give it a try with the strawberry. And I got it on my first go. Still, why am I upset about this? Because I really wanted to show this all off -- stream it on Twitch or at least have the run on video. Unfortunately, I was at my parents' for the weekend, and I only have the 30 second Switch video to show you.

I was initially pretty worried about how 7-c was going to go, given that I died more on 7-c in my initial playthrough of it than on any other level. However, 1) it's a C-side, so doing it deathless is still significantly easier than doing an A- or B-side deathless, and 2) I've gotten much better at the game since the first time I played 7-c. I got the strawberry the day after 7-a, and my time is only 11 second off of a world record (although, given how short 7-c is, those 11 seconds are actually pretty significant).

8-a took me quite a while to do, and it was kind of emotionally weird for me the whole time because I kept realizing that this was the only non-B-side strawberry left to get. As per usual for an A-side, I only got the 30 second Switch video, and I kind of played myself for a fool, too, because I took the video when I dashed into the heart. Because of this, you see the strawberry resolve as soon as the video starts, and then you get to watch me platform awkwardly for 30 seconds. If I had instead taken the video right after the strawberry resolved, you could've watched me go through the shifting block room, which is always nervewracking.

Regardless, this strawberry meant that I had finished all of the A- and C-sides! Moveover, it was another reminder that I really would have the skill required to do the B-sides. Super exciting!

I got 1-b the day after 8-a, and I started going nuts. It was definitely easier than I was expecting -- I hadn't played a B-side since unlocking the C-sides, so I'd forgotten what they were like. They certainly are very challenging, but they aren't the length of an A-side -- on average, they appear to have 5 rooms per section. Getting the 1-b strawberry was super reassuring to me on my quest for the 200.

What a lovely weekend it was -- I got 2-b the day after 1-b. It again proved to be easier than I expected, but chapter 2 in general is pretty easy, and mechanically is one of my favorites, so it's a little to be expected. Only a 30 second Switch video again, and in this one you get to watch me be hilariously terrible at the shifting block room.

On to 3-b. As per usual with chapter 3, the difficulty spiked from chapter 2, but it still only took me a couple of days to achieve. As per NOT usual, though, I got a video of the whole thing!

This wasn't my best run, but I'm still proud of my routing. There are two particular moments of note: first, the room at 2:39 is absolutely terrifying. Seriously. Second, in the second last room (3:41) I actually messed up my normal route and still managed to recover and proceed to the shifting block room. Success!

Catching up to date with the time of writing, the most recent strawberry I've gotten is 4-b. This one was very tough, and despite some really good routing, there were a few rooms that kept tripping me up. I recorded the whole video again, though, and I'm incredibly proud of my run, which didn't have any major mistakes.

Some annoying rooms:

  • The room starting at 1:31 is called the "Thank Goodness" Room, because whenever I make it to the following room, I go "thanks goodness!" It's frustrating because it shouldn't really actually be a hard room, but it's very easy to make a mistake that you can't recover from.
  • The room at 2:12 is the first of a 3-room gauntlet that formed the main challenge of the level. I'm quite proud, though, of the double hyper dash I perform at the start of that room in order to avoid dancing through the first three platforms.

Fun fact: as of writing, this run is actually the number 2 time on the speedrun.com leaderboards for 4-b! I found this out quite by accident when browsing the leaderboards for various levels, because I didn't expect a golden strawberry run to be fast enough. Needless to say, I submitted the video, and am quite proud of my accomplishment.