Cave Story is a game that was originally released in 2004 on the PC for free by a Japanese man who goes by the name of Pixel. The game was re-released on the Wii in 2010 for $12 with updated graphics, music, controls and additional features including a new character to play as. With retro visuals, sound and gameplay reminiscent of a toned-down Metroidvania does this indie title warrant a purchase? Or is the retro appeal just a gimmick?
Cave Story is something that doesnít come around very often. An absolute hidden gem that is fun and challenging all the way through. Cave Story is something very old but also very new. Cave Story doesnít gamble itís charm on the player finding a sense of nostalgia within itís retro aesthetic and gameplay, it simply just works.
The game plays like Metroid with a light off-focus on exploration. As a result, you never feel like you have missed anything, even though you really may have. The main focus is the gameís combat. There are a total of twelve or thirteen weapons, some youíll be given and others ae secret or are traded to certain characters over the span of the game. Each weapon has three levels which are gained by killing enemies and collecting triangles dropped by said enemies. Depending on the weapon level, the weapon could do more,or in the case of the Nemesis, less damage This adds a lot of depth to combat when you need to balance weapon levels and use weapons according to the enemies weakness, especially in the case of Bosses.
One thing admirable that Cave Story does is add a lot of variety to enemies and bosses. Like the Mega Man series, each enemy behaves differently and has different ways to go about killing each enemy The same goes for the bosses that youíll come across during the game. The first few bosses are quite easy, sharing the same strategy of jump over shoot jump over shoo; As the game progresses bosses become more complicated and at times confusing, messy, and cluttered, luckily this only applies to certain bosses near the end of the game when the game attempts to crank the difficulty to illustrate that youíre a hero.
Cave Story is a challenging game, never too hard or easy. It uses the traditional 2D platforming banes such as Spikes, spikes disguised as beds of lava and the occasional pit-fall. You have HP which can be increased in 3-5 points by using heath vials hidden around the levels you explore. Ala metroid, some will be available without doing anything but others require you to backtrack through the levels to use a recently obtained item to achieve new hights or unlock things separating you and the health vial. Enemies will drop hearts, rocket ammo and weapon EXP, bosses however Ė do not. This is probably the most challenging part about Cave Story, especially when youíre supposed to fight four bosses consecutively and youíre low on ammo, health or weapon levels, but itís never something you canít overcome.
Cave Story isnít the kind of game you play for story, but youíll be surprised to find out that it is in fact Ė pretty decent. Without spoiling anything the story is about an island whichís inhabitants are dog/bunny things called Mimigas who are being suppressed by the evil Doctor and Witch Misery and their lacky Balrog. It involves a war, experimentation, possession and death. The story is consistant and always present. Itís dark but not depressing, well, too depressing. It has a lot of hidden bits scattered through out the levels and dialogue. The extra hidden bits of info add to why the story could be one of Cave Storyís strongest features. However, it is not without itís flaws. Some dialogue is hit and miss, weird and in context Ė melodramatic. But again, very few times is this apparent
The Wii version has extra modes which add a lot of longevity for such a cheap game. The boss mode allows you to fight every boss consecutively with intermission to refill health and swap weapons. Sanctuary Attack is an endless attack mode, very hard. And then there is the ability to play as Curly Brace which does nothing besides add small bits of interjection. There are also some weird experiences with Curly Braceís dialogue with herself that are just weird.
Cave Story is an excellent gem of a game which succeeds in using old school gameplay while not feeling broken. The story, looks, music and gameplay mix together perfectly creating a charm that just sucks you in. from the very beginning. The game is well worth the $12 USD (buy it with a Zelda 64 game cause Nintendo only sells $10,$20,$50) especially with the addition of extra modes and fantastic controls. Purchase dis shit.
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