Why You Should Be Excited About Cave Story
Posted by Marcel van Duyn
When Cave Story was announced for WiiWare yesterday, a lot of gamers went wild with excitement - Others, however, were left puzzled as to why this news is so great. Let's take a look at the reasons you should be excited about this game coming to WiiWare.
Cave Story was originally released in 2004 for the PC. It was created over the span of five (!) years by the sole member of Studio Pixel, the man who calls himself Pixel. This means he did everything himself - Graphics, music, writing, it's all his work. Of course this is an amazing feat, but is the game actually any good? Almost everybody who has played it will answer with a large resounding "Yes" to that question.
Cave Story casts you in the role of Quote - A male robot who awakens in a cave. He has no idea how he got there or why he's there, so he sets out to find out what's going on. He soon finds out that he's on a large floating island inhabited by rabbit-like creatures called Mimigas. They are being terrorized by a mysterious doctor (Simply referred to throughout the game as "The Doctor"), who wears an ancient helm that gives him immense power. With no idea on whose side he might or might not have been before waking up, Quote decides to help the Mimigas defeat the Doctor.
The gameplay is something never seen before - Some have compared it to Metroid, with its huge maze-like level design, although this is not really true. The game takes place across a host of different areas, of which one, the Mimiga Village, acts as a central hub, connecting to most others through teleportation. Quote can freely run and jump, but he also has a gun - And in a unique twist, it's not Quote who receives level ups as the game progresses, but his gun!
Defeated enemies, aside from dropping hearts or missiles (For the later-acquired missile launcher weapon) can also drop triangle-shaped tokens. Collecting these will fill up a bar, which, when full, upgrades your weapon by one level. This greatly increases its power, range and rate of fire, which means it gets much easier to defeat more enemies. Each gun has its own experience bar, and they can be upgraded to a maximum of level 3.
Don't think you can just hang out in one spot collecting experience for every weapon and then go through the game easily though - Getting hit by enemies will cause you to lose experience for the weapon you currently have equipped. Weaker enemies will usually only cause your gun to lose half a level, but if you're hit by larger foes or bosses, expect to immediately lose an entire level! Later on in the game you can also find some weapons with unique twists. One of them, for example, is actually stronger at level 1 than at level 2 and 3, but one or two tokens will upgrade its level - This means you actually have to avoid collecting tokens if you want it to remain effective.
The game is quite linear - Areas unlock one by one, and they're usually very straight-forward. They're also not at all like areas you'd find in your regular game - There's no unoriginal worlds based on fire, ice, water and other things here. Instead, you'll visit strange locations such as the Egg Corridor, Grasstown, Sand Zone and the Labyrinth. These places are all very unique and fresh, and are never long enough to get boring. All of them also have a whole assortment of unique bosses which fit the area they're in.
Throughout your adventures you'll also slowly unravel more of the plot - Pixel certainly has a very vivid imagination, as the game's story is like nothing you've ever seen or read before. Most characters also have their own portraits during conversations, so you can easily see emotions on their faces.
Speaking of the characters, Pixel is an exceptionally good sprite artist - Just look at the game's screenshots. It's amazing to think that everything, from the character/enemy sprites, to the backgrounds and objects, was drawn by a single person, and it's really one of the most unique-looking, yet beautiful pixel-based games ever.
The soundtrack is just as unique as the graphics - It has a very strange sound to it, which fits perfectly with the rest of the game. There's some genuinely outstanding tracks as well - The songs are really not that long, but they're so well-made that sometimes you don't even notice when they loop. Some of the songs also seem to loop multiple times before surprisingly going over into an entirely new melody. The soundtrack has gained quite a bit of a following - Look up "Cave Story music" on a site such as YouTube and you'll get a couple hundred results, not just with videos containing the game's original music, but also remixes and arrangements.
After your initial playthrough there's more to do - There's a total of three different endings (As you can make choices at various parts of the game that affect the story's outcome), and the super-secret final area includes a timer, so you can see how fast you can beat it (Warning - It's hard!).
The game itself isn't very long - Just 3 or 4 hours - But those few hours will most likely contain some of the best moments you've ever spent gaming. With the prospect of additional features in the WiiWare version, hopefully the time will be extended some more.
Pixel himself has been adamant about one thing - He originally never wanted the game to be sold for money. This means that for five long years of hard work, he didn't want to receive any reward - Now that's dedication. We're not sure how much the game will cost on WiiWare, but it's definitely going to be worth every single Wii Point. It also finally gives us a chance to support Pixel, even though he never wanted that!