Recently, or as recently as this sort of thing gets a game came out called Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3, the seventh entry in the Modern Warfare series and on the same day a game came out with little fanfare to it called Cave Story 3D.
Cave Story is one of those games like Psychonauts or Legacy of Kain or Beyond Good and Evil or Minecraft or Okami or Eternal Darkness or Planescape Torment or… you see where I’m going with this, right?
Anyway, if you even mention the name of the game to someone familiar with it they get a glassy-eyed look on their face as if you opened the key to their geeky little heart. It’s one of those games where you look at the art or the graphics you sort of stare at it for a moment and ask yourself what could possibly garner a cult like following.
This is a picture of the cast. No, no, go ahead and guess the plot
In Cave Story’s case the original version came out back in 2004 for pc completely free, it still is so you can go and get it right now and no one will stop you. As the story goes, the designer Daisuke Amaya, otherwise known as Pixel spent five years working on the game until he got to the point where he deemed it was finished. Now if you know anything about game development you know that game designers rarely, if ever, release a game when it’s reached their mechanical or graphical ideal. Now imagine a single developer not constrained by anyone else’s opinion developing a game without any time restrictions to the point where he deemed it was finished and fleshed out to his satisfaction. Think about it.
Anyway, it hit the internet and became a beloved title of critics, for most of us that amounted to us seeing this image on message boards (read: 4Chan).
His name is Balrog and he is the world’s happiest kidnapper. He also looks suspiciously like the Brave Little Toaster. According to the creator he’s a bar of soap.
Hell I don’t know why!
So what’s Cave Story about? Well, I don’t really know. Well, I do but looking back on what I learned my first time experiencing the game I’m hesitant to give it away. Well I’ll start off with the beginning I guess. Your game after a quick (like less than 30 seconds) opening you won’t understand starts with you intercepting transmissions from some guy in a bunker. You wake up in a cave surrounded by monsters and spikes, can’t forget the deadly spikes, with no memory and a save point nearby. If you explore a bit you find a sleeping old man and you steal his gun to escape the small cavern you’re in. I’m not being cute about this; you jacking that weapon becomes a plot point. If you find it later, that is.
So after seeing a let’s play of the first half of the game and researching it a bit I decided to download the free version this whopping beloved behemoth of a game so praised for its size and scope of narrative and gameplay weighed in at a whopping… 4.2 megabytes. No… wait, that can’t be right. Let me check again.
Nope, that’s 4.2 megabytes all right. As I live and breathe. God damn. I have flash animations bigger than that on my pc!
So as the story goes on that this game became so beloved that several companies decided to port it and give it a graphics upgrade. As of this writing I know of three different remakes for the game, one by a company called Nicalis ported it for the Wii on the WiiWare system as well as the DSI, Cave Story+ which came out through Steam and Cave Story 3D was ported for the 3DS by NIS America, which released the same week as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. Hence why you probably didn’t hear about it.
So is it good? Well the gameplay is remarkably tight and according to experts it’s impossible to find every little thing in the game on a first run (I’ve tried, tis hard) and a lot of the later boss battles are just insanely hard. As it is I’m stuck at a three-boss gamut that has me pretty close to tearing my hair out.
Conversely, I gave up on this game to play Ratchet and Clank which is significantly easier.
Now normally I’d go into a long run about the features of the game and such but a lot of that I have planned for a following article. To say the least it is a combination shooter/platformer which has you travelling through a series of bizzare caves (Eh? Eh?) saving a small tribe of innocent creatures.
And the world’s happiest compulsive kidnapper. I really can’t stop saying that sentence.
So, should you check it out? Probably. It’s a different kind of game and it’s free so the only thing you’ll really lose is time. The controls are incredibly well tuned and there isn’t a useless weapon in the game. Sort of… it’s kind of… spoilers.
I’m told it follows in the Metroid style of gameplay but I really disagree on that point. I’d go so far as to say that it is more similar to Megaman, X specifically, with how the stages are laid out and how you can explore them.
But it is fun and the story is very strong and the characters are at the very least interesting. At the worst they are insanely perplexing. The music is great, the sprites have a delicious retro feel and the whole game is really something worth seeing as I see it.
So too does this work exist.