Thursday, April 8, 2010

Cave Story Review

Written by DG 
 Cave Story is a beautiful little genre blending RPG shooter that took Studio Pixel, a one-man show by Daisuke Amaya, five years to finish and polish. And what did Pixel do after devoting so much time to this game? Why, he gave it away for free. Since it's release, Cave Story has received fan translations and ports. If you are literate and own a computer, you can probably play Cave Story. Just recently however, in March, Cave Story was officially released on Wiiware in english for 1,200 Wii points ($12) (see fan translation/official version differences). Pixel however continues to endorse the circulation of the free PC version and all fan works.

The beginning of the game places you in a spiky cave with no explenation, and you may get the impression that this is a mindless platformer. However, outside you will discover a ravaged village of dog-like creatures called mimigas. You begin to realize that all is not well in this world, and the island you find yourself on holds many dark secrets. The native mimigas, a team of human researchers and the sinister mastermind The Doctor are locked in a battle for control over the island, their lives, and the fate of the world. Throughout the game, the main character becomes more aware of the nature of these factions, of his identity, and of his role in the conflict. Because of this gradual discovery, it is difficult to go into depth about the game's surprisingly deep plot and characters without spoiling something. Suffice to say that Cave Stroy has an extensive backstory and cast of characters, complete with three different endings. Unfortunately, one rather significant problem with Cave Story is that both the fan translation and even the official translation are sloppy at best, so you'll rarely read any particularly clever or well written dialogue, and certain parts of the game's backstory won't be revealed to you unless you get every ending.
The game's difficulty gently increases as you progress, from the childishly easy starting areas, to the very challenging final areas, and perhaps to the absurdly difficult secret area. Your journey will never grw dull, as the game features a wide variety of level designs and will continually offer you new and differing challenges to overcome.
 Cave Story's gameplay is nothing short of ingenious. If you need something to compare it to, imagine something similar to Metroid. You will do plenty of 2D platforming and plenty of shooting stuff, as well as collecting health and missile (should you choose to get the missile launcher) expansions over the course of the game, though the game also has several RPG elements, such as an inventory and dialogue. The thing that makes Cave Story fundamentally different, however, is that each weapon in the game (of which there are quite a few, and most of them are optional) has three levels, and enemies you kill will drop EXP along with HP and missiles. Each gun collects EXP and levels up individually, but loses EXP when you're hit by an enemy. You will find yourself taking care so as to keep your weapons at max level for maximum effect.
Cave Story's original blocky 16-bit graphics are extremely endearing. Some enemies (cirtters, behemoths, etc.) are so cute, you may have second thoughts about turning them into piles of smodlering ash. Err, maybe that's just me. At any rate, the intentionally low resolution is stylish and highly appealing. The Wii version has recieved a graphical overhaul that increases the "quality" of these graphics, but in my experience this is not only moot when played on a bigger TV screen, but it is also a bit blurred so you can't really see the pixels anyway.
The game's soundtrack is equally primitive, but almost all of the tracks are fitting and very catchy. Again, the Wii's new music lacks the charming flavor of the original though.
 Final score: 9/10
To summarize, Cave Story is a deep and compelling tale, a beautiful work of art, and a challenging test of skill, as well as one of the most extensive and enjoyable free games you will ever play. If you consider yourself a gamer of any sophistication, you will surely have an appreciation for this gem of a game.

You can get the free version of Cave Story here:
Or for 1,200 Wii points on Wiiware.


  1. Scoreless. Needs a score by you before I add it to the sidebar. Added 'Read more' to post.


  2. I know, I know. Thus, why I PM'd you...

  3. Also, I can't edit unless I log in as N5.