Opening Turn: Celestial Mechanica

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With the release of the Free Bundle, which vows to deliver TRUE INDIE content to the masses, we at Attack Initiative have taken it upon ourselves to sample this content and write some things about it. I decided that for my part, I would play a bit of Celestial Mechanica and contribute my thoughts on it. I will admit that I MAY have been drawn to it, in part, by the presence of the wonderful and talented Laura Shigihara in the trailer. So what did I think about the rest of the game? Well, I’ll tell you. As is my custom with short indie games, apparently, this might be a bit shorter than normal, but do not let that lead you to believe that the game itself is not worth playing!

What is it?: Celestial Mechanica is a collaboration between Roger Hicks (creator of rComplex, a Canabalt-like running game) and Paul Veer (who animated Super Crate Box, a….big cup of arcade-style WTF that even got itself a Commodore 64 version). Both of these things made me wonder how I hadn’t heard of it before, but regardless, the fact that I’m hearing about it /now/ means that the Free Bundle is doing it’s job! Anyway, the plot centers around a race of mechanical beings that aided humanity by stopping the earth from being destroyed, and in return created a floating kingdom for themselves to watch humanity from above. You play as one of these beings who has unceremoniously been tossed down to Earth, and is trying to find his way back.

Oh, that’s neat! How does it play?: Like Metroid without guns, or VVVVVV with upgrades. There are enemies, which must either be avoided or destroyed with their own projectiles, after obtaining an upgrade that lets you do so. The controls are pretty loose, much like Cave Story’s, so part of the challenge of the jump puzzles is timing your jumps so that your momentum carries you far enough, but not too far. The good part is that you restart at the beginning of the room you died in, if you die. However, this is also the /bad/ news, as some of the rooms are /very/ challenging. Also, most things will kill you in one hit, except for enemy projectiles, which kill you in two. If you get hit by one, you do regenerate after a few seconds, though, so that helps.

Huh. Ouch. So, what are my control options?: Keyboard, of course. However, the game is bundled with JoyToKey, so that you can map your own controller to the keyboard input. Even better, it comes with a default profile for an Xbox 360 controller, so if you have one of those all you have to do is run the bundled JoyToKey before opening the game itself, and you should be set. I had no trouble with this; I didn’t have to add any other configurations or anything.

So what impressed you?: It’s a fun little game, especially for free! There’s really no reason to not give it a shot. The music is pretty good as well, it fits the rest of the game’s pixelated goodness nicely! Also, the game doesn’t mess around with death: when you die, you immediately respawn, no annoying waiting or anything. Which is nice, because you will die a lot.

And what didn’t impress you?: Well, I think the only complaint I  had, ironically, is that I would have liked to  have had a weapon of my own of some sort. I mean, I don’t think that all games have to have guns, but considering the other guys have heat seeking missiles, I think it would have been a good call.

Seriously, screw this guy.
Seriously, screw this guy.

Anything else?Really, for free, you could do a /whole/ lot worse. I’m glad I picked it up, and I think other people should too!

[This review first appeared on the gaming website Attack Initiative.]

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