Celeste’s already remarkable speedrunning tactics combined with the frame-perfect precision of a robot.
Summer Games Done Quick (SGDQ) concluded recently and, as it does every year, it went out with an excellent lineup of impressive speedruns and a remarkable load of cash for charity.
One of our favorite runs of the event this time around was the incredible Celeste Any% TAS. While most speedruns are executed by skilled human players, TASBot runs are a little different – they are run by a robot.
TASBot, to be exact.
TASBot is a special R.O.B. robot first created in 2013 by dwangoAC. The custom circuit board it’s hooked up to allows users to program and execute a series of precise inputs directly into a system’s controller port, which essentially allows TASBot to speedrun games faster and more perfectly than is physically possible for a human player. TASBot and tool-assisted speedruns (hence the TAS part) are nothing new to the speedrunning community, but to someone who hasn’t witnessed the glory of an inhumanly frame-perfect run of a game – especially one as gracefully built for speedruns as Celeste – it’s really a must-see.
Watch the coolest moments from the speedrun at the top!
Below we’ve rounded up some of the most exciting and awe-inspiring moments from SGDQ 2018’s Celeste Any% TAS, divided up roughly by the techniques on display. Credit goes to DevilSquirrel, KDT, and Kilaye for programming the run (a feat which took 2-3 months to complete) and dwangoAC, Hornlitz, Covert_Muffin, otdq, yoshipro, and TGH_Sr for providing insightful couch commentary. (The latter two participated in a head-to-head Celeste race that was also a highlight of the show.)
Thanks also to GDQ for hosting the event and allowing us to showcase moments from the run for your enjoyment.
One thing that makes Celeste such a fantastic platformer is how precise and deliberate each of its mechanics are. In most games, spikes mean certain death, but in Celeste, they can also be an opportunity. As long as you’re moving away from spikes, they can’t damage your character, Madeline. This technicality is used to TASBot’s advantage in multiple instances of the run.
Shortcuts via spike corners and well-timed spike wall jumps are the norm, but most impressive is a moment at 16:20 that sees Madeline bouncing between a spike floor, wall, and floating spike block to skip a particularly time-consuming section.
This technique also covers what the runners describe as “the best jump in the game.” At 17:09, Madeline jumps from a bubble into a spike wall while the wind is blowing Madeline into the spikes – meaning she’s fighting the elements as much as the game’s code to make the jump work.
Boosting (Corner and Water)
Corner boosting is a common Celeste speedrunning tactic, which allows Madeline to move at impressive speeds using different combinations of basic dashes. For more detail, you can hear a rundown of the dash mechanics at the start of the TASBot run, but in a nutshell, you have the basic horizontal dash, the diagonal down dash, a hyper dash, and an ultra dash. The average Celeste player will never discover anything beyond the basic horizontal dash.
Very precise button presses allow skilled players and speedrunners to build out new dashes from previous ones for more sophisticated movement. This, combined with the speed increase from corner boosting and water boosting, results in some incredible airtime for Madeline as she soars through entire rooms in one go.
Madeline can use moving blocks to build momentum. Paired with TASBot’s corner boosting precision, the results are seriously mindblowing.
Perhaps the most impressive instance in this particular TAS is at 20:54, during the Theo crystal sequence, when TASBot uses Theo to build momentum on a moving platform and soar through an entire room, clipping through a spike wall in the process. As explained in the commentary, the spike wall clipping isn’t “traditional clipping,” where the player character moves too much per frame to register collision. In Celeste, spikes don’t even have collision when off-camera. Madeline moved so fast in this instance that she passed the spike wall before it could even damage her.
Another ridiculous use of momentum comes at 39:39, during the infamous C-Sides, when TASBot does a backwards reverse dash onto a moving block for an extra speed boost. Like most of the coolest moments in this run, blink and you’ll miss it.
Those were some of our favorite moments and techniques we learned more about in the Celeste Any% TAS at SGDQ 2018! If there’s anything we missed or got wrong about the specifics – we aren’t speedrunners, but we definitely enjoy watching them – let us know in the comments.
Chloi Rad is an Editor at IGN. Follow her on Twitter at @_chloi.