What I'm Playing: Cave Story

It’s been a while since I’ve added any content to this blog. Thought I’d get back into it. I’ve got a few new projects to highlight, and I owe a decent exposition of the Douglas Peucker algorithm. Those things are on their way, but in the meanwhile I thought I’d pad this blog out with a post or two on what I’m currently playing, and why I’m enjoying it (or not, as the case may be.)

The game that has captivated me most recently? None other than Doukutsu Monogatari, or Cave Story.

Cave Story

This image sold me on Cave Story. Yes, that’s a dog riding on his head. Artist: Risachantag. Click for link to DeviantArt Page

I had watched a classmate play bits and pieces of this game, and passed it off as another pixelated indie game cash in. You know the type – designed to tug at the nostalgic heartstrings of our generation, ultimately offering nothing of substance – so I brushed my classmate off and didn’t think twice about it. A few months later that image appeared on Reddit, along with a whole host of people screaming bloody murder about how wonderful the game was. Perhaps I was wrong, perhaps I hadn’t given the game a fair shake.

Boy was I ever.

Cave Story Screenshot

The game’s retro feel initially turned me away, I feared a game that was ‘all style, no substance.’

Plot Synopsis

The game is, ehrm, aptly named. You begin your quest in a cave, and spend an inordinate amount of your time in caves of one variety or another. What begins as a sort of an amnesic romp through bat infested caves very quickly becomes one of the most enveloping and rich game experiences I’ve had in the last decade. Part of the whole adventure is being thrown into the middle of a conflict you can’t initially understand, so I don’t want to talk to the plot heavily. But be prepared for robots, rabbit people called Mimigas, a desperate plot to take over the world, and a pair of affable villains that just don’t stay down. The game is not all bubbles and cute, however, and it quickly takes a turn for the serious. You find a group of people under threat of extinction and exploitation and you are thrust into a position of making decisions that affect their future. Along the way you meet a loveable cast of characters.

Cave Story Cast

Cast of Cave Story. Artist unknown. (If you know, let me know and I’ll credit them)

Gameplay is simple shoot puzzle platforming, the type of which has become known as Metroidvania. There are a number of paths through the game that subtly alter the ending, as well as the weapons you can use throughout. The concept is simple, but very cleanly executed. It is punctuated by a score of wonderful music that harkens back to the era of SNES gaming with its synthesized sound.

The whole game, as far as I can tell, was written by just one guy from Japan who goes by the name of ‘Pixel’. Since being released on the PC, it has seen subsequent releases on all manner of consoles including an official release on the Wii. There is even an enhanced version for the 3DS in the works.

How to Get It:

For now, the game is available for free on from the author.

Make sure you get the English translation patch (unless you can read Japanese.) Now, I have to get back to rescuing me some Mimiga!