Cave Story

aka: Doukutsu Monogatari , Tale of the Cave
Moby ID: 16493
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Description

Cave Story is a metroidvania platformer with the amnesiac soldier Quote finding a city of rabbits called Mimigas. The Mimigas are preyed on by an evil doctor, who kidnaps them for his evil experiments. They still remember Arthur, a hero from their past and others are awaiting for the return of Dragons. The soldier soon falls in with Sue, a stranger to the Mimigas, but the only one who seems to know about the Dragon Eggs. Unfortunately the doctor wants her next.

The game closely resembles a NES platformer with a distinct 8-bit style and fast gameplay. The main character collects weapons (blade, bubbler, fireball, machine gun, nemesis, (super) missile launcher, polar star, snake, and spur) that can be leveled up three times. There are also health capsules to increase his life bar. There is a variety of jumping puzzles and boss battles to challenge players as they explore the game.

The DSiWare version of the game is fairly close to the original and does not contain most of the changes introduced in the earlier WiiWare release. It however contains the Sanctuary Time Attack mode, seasonal costumes for Christmas and Halloween, and a jukebox where all tracks of the game's soundtrack can be gradually unlocked.

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Reviews

Critics

Average score: 92% (based on 16 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.9 out of 5 (based on 93 ratings with 4 reviews)

PC users finally got their own Metroid

The Good
In my youth, every game was an adventure, every nook and cranny was explored over and over again, every aspect of the game was thoroughly enjoyed and I must have played my first ten or so games 50 times or more. Maybe this was because the games really were that good, that it's not just nostalgia, but that the games really were better back in the days. Then again, maybe not. Maybe it was simply because I as a kid couldn't afford new games more than two or three times a year, and living in a small town with no internet (hey, this was in the 80s), trying out new stuff wasn't really an option unless one of my friends somehow got hold of a new exciting game that we'd only read snippets about in those rare foreign video games magazines. Thus games like Metroid and Zelda were played over and over (and over) again. Going back to try to relive those moments in 2005 does little else but leave a sour aftertaste in my mouth, and another of those fond childhood memories destroyed forever.

Enter Doukutsu Monogatari. For this is the first time since Another World and Flashback that I can sit down with a ridiculous smile on my face and just enjoy the sheer fun of a fantastic platform adventure. Doukutsu Monogatari more than lives up to the memories of the fantastic 2d platform adventuring of the 80's, if fact this game outshines them all. This is, simply put, awesome. The graphics are great, the music is great, the controls and story and the FEELING is great. And if you think the game is easy to solve (it will take you about six hours), then there's a harder game mode that is not accessible through any menus, but by doing things a little differently on the second (or third) time through. I will, however, not spoil any of the fun by saying how, but when was the last time your actions in a platform game actually affected how the story develops further on? I can't even think of a pure adventure game where this was possible.

All in all, a fantastic game...and it's free, so there's no longer any excuse for not playing this. And spread the word.

The Bad
The "down" key is used for opening doors, talking to people and examining stuff, normally the "up" key would be used. This might take a while to get used to.

The Bottom Line
If you miss the old times, or if you simply want something that is fantastically fun and beautiful, and that lasts a while (Doom 3, anyone?), the Doukutsu Monogatari is perfection.

Windows · by optrirominiluikus (70) · 2005

o.O... Wow...

The Good
Simple story that still manages to suck you in.

Funny characters that manage to endear themselves.

Fantastic controls that leave nothing to chance.

Unmatched flow thanks to the great level-design.

Music straight from the Gods of Goodness.

The Bad
Christmas theme thoroughly confused me when I got this game around December.

Some alternative paths in the story are unreasonably obscure.

True final boss is impossible. No discussion possible.

The Bottom Line
Story

Oh boy, I did not see this one coming. This title has been on my radar for a while now, but some bad experiences with other Indie games that received similar praise kept me from getting it earlier. I was very wrong...

Cave Story tells the story of "Quote", a humanoid robot that awakes in a mysterious cave. The cave eventually leads him to a small village filled with small rabbit-like creatures who call themselves "Mimiga". Here you learn that an evil doctor has been kidnapping their kind for some evil purpose and that a girl called Sue is probably the reason for it. After finding Sue, though, you discover that the doctor has bigger plans than just experimenting on cute animals. Naturally, you team up with a handful of others who seek to oppose him and set out on adventure.

What really sells the story is just how subtly it gets you emotionally invested. The Mimiga are all friendly, polite and cute, causing your cuteness-gland to explode into a loud "Awwww". The cast of main characters is also very varied and likable, such as the Amnesiac robot "Curly" or the excitable villain "Balrog". Most of the crew also gets plenty of screen-time and dialogue, so you get plenty of enjoyment out of them. There is nothing truly bothersome about the story either; no offensive material, no dragging cut-scenes, no obnoxious exposition... It just all works so well.

There are also three different endings that you can pursue, but not by the Deus Ex: Human Revolution way of just pushing a button. The ending you get is based entirely on your own actions, but never in a way that punishes you or leaves you paranoid about messing up in decisive situations. The "bad" ending also genuinely feels like you skipped out on content, while the "neutral" ending is nice while still making you feel guilty about some of the feats you couldn't achieve.

Gameplay

Cave Story is a lot like Super Metroid, in the sense that it's a 2-dimensional shooter with RPG elements. Over the course of the game you unlock various weapons and discover secrets that give you more health or ammunition. You use all of these against a variety of enemies while platforming through the many themed stages. Like many other Metroidvania titles, this game prioritizes boss-fights. The only major difference is that Cave Story puts more emphasis on the story than either Metroid or Castlevania.

There are also a few twists too: Most enemies drop experience points when killed, which you can pick up to level up your weapons. Doing so increases their power, speed, firing-mode or a combination of those. However, receiving damage decreases the experience of your weapons (depending on the enemy), so this means you are not just running&gunning, but also dodging like crazy. Naturally, this game is also as challenging as they get, even on the easiest difficulty, which is a common trait in the indie market. There is however never a moment where you feel that the controls are the source of your deaths. Quote controls very satisfyingly and responsive, which is further helped by high jumps that give you enough time to perform a good landing and consistent physics that never betray you.

The game generally maintains a reasonable challenge, but it goes a little too overboard when you want to get the Good Ending. The player is asked to make it through a maze of instant-kill traps (that can only be done with the otherwise useless jetpack), a hallway filled with enemies, a mini-boss that constantly spawns small enemies and then the final boss all on the same live and with no health-refills anywhere in-between. Kind of a dick-move, but again, it's the only flaw in an otherwise solid gem.

Presentation

The second I booted this game, I knew it was going to be something truly special. The music on the title screen was absolutely glorious and the rest of the soundtrack is on the same level (every damn tune in it). The music is exciting when it needs to be, emotional when the situation demands it and sometimes even silent when the imagery says enough. Most tunes focus on creating a solid rhythm above the instruments, which results in that classic kind of songs that you can easily remember and end up humming.

The visuals are kept deliberately retro, as with most other indie titles that seek to evoke the feeling of the good ol' days. Even with that now overused aesthetic, Cave Story manages to look nice and original, whereas titles like Super Meat Boy just looked lazily generic. This can be attributed to the variety found in each level and the amount of detail placed in each sprite and texture. I also grant extra points to the game for not getting its head trapped in pretentious Super Nintendo references. Instead of that the game allows itself to be enjoyed by both gaming veterans and younger audiences, since the story and humor are completely contained in the context of just this one game.

One minor flaw would be that the game had some kind of seasonal theme going on when I got it this December, so I have no idea how it actually looks when all the snow and knitted caps are removed.

Replay-Value

The game will last you a good ten to fifteen hours on your first playthrough and nearing the end of that the game drops a few hints about the existence of a special ending. Getting that ending requires you to play the game again and make a few obscure decisions, which will likely require you to keep Gamefaqs open in the background. The second shot at the game will last you maybe five to six hours, though the final stage will undoubtedly give you a lot of trouble.

For the completionists out there, there is option to collect all the health and ammo upgrades, a "bad" ending and a bunch of fun secrets for you to discover. Overall, you are certain to get your money's worth in terms of content.

Verdict

I do not believe that I ever handed out a full 5/5, but this game truly deserves it. Reading over this review made me realize that my words don't do justice to how much fun I had with this and how many emotions it awakened within my sour, rotten body. You will almost certainly grow to love this title for how well the gameplay flows and aargh! I give up on trying to explain it!

Get it if you have the chance. No exceptions.

Windows · by Asinine (957) · 2013

The best 2d platform game on the PC, bar none.

The Good
Cave Story is one of my all time favorite games, but if I described it to you, it wouldn't sound too appealing. There are many, many, many freeware games on the internet, but there are few out there that can even attempt to approach the quality of the achievements held within Cave Story. Just about everything here comes together perfectly to form one giant mound of bliss, and the coolest part: It was all done by one man, who goes by the name of "Pixel". Pixel's creation took five years to make, and it shows in every aspect of the game: From the well-drawn graphics, intricately designed levels, perfect controls, catchy music, and even a reasonable story, the game just does it all so perfectly.

Cave Story is a platform game with shooting elements. As you wander through the caves you will come across a variety of monsters and bosses which want to kill you and tear you apart. You just shoot at them to get rid of them. As you progress through the game, your options for dispatching the enemies grow in number. You start off with a weak pea shooter, but will soon be using missiles, daggers, machine guns, and even bubbles to dispatch your foes. When killed, enemies will drop golden triangles, which you can use to upgrade your weapons up to three levels of power.

And why are you shooting all of these monsters? The player is a robot who wakes up in a cave in the middle of a floating island with no memories. The plot eventually tasks the player with saving a race of bunnies from an evil human doctor who has become corrupted by an evil crown. There are a few twists thrown in for good measure, and there are multiple endings to the game.

While the gameplay sounds simple, the design of the game isn't. Except for the end, all gameplay takes place within the caves of this floating island. While this may be bland, I can assure you that it's not. You get mechanical areas, grass stages, sand stages, waterways, and more. Each area is packed with enemies, bosses, and little secrets that are fun and rewarding to find and collect.

The graphics are good for this type of game. They are all drawn to look "old" but they are executed with style nonetheless, with parallax scrolling, good character portraits, tons of sprites on-screen, and a smooth framerate.

The sounds are great too. Every sound is perfect, from the growling of the monsters, the firing of your weapons, to the babbling of characters, it all sounds wonderful.

the music is worthy of even more praise than the sounds and graphics. Just about all of the songs are catchy, and each one fits the mood of the area you are currently in, from exciting and epic to calm and moody. It truly runs the emotional gamut, yet stays of a consistently high quality.

The Bad
it's hard to fault Cave Story for anything, but I will say that the color scheme can be rather drab looking at times. In addition, some may see the game as being too short and there are a lot of so-called "fetch quests" in the middle portion of the game that bog it down ever so slightly. Some may also feel that the machine gun is unbalanced: At full power, you can use it to "fly" by pointing it at the ground and using it's force to propel you skyward. But the slight flaws do not hurt the experience as a whole.

The Bottom Line
Cave Story is, to put it mildly, a masterpiece. If this wasn't a freeware game, it would be worthy of a retail release, which is more than I could say for some retail games where a free release is barely worth much. In fact, it already has been released as a retail game on several platforms including the Wii and the DS, with enhancements included to the graphics, sounds, and gameplay of the PC version. But nothing can beat free, so the PC version is the one I recommend the most.

Windows · by krisko6 (814) · 2010

[ View all 4 player reviews ]

Discussion

Subject By Date
RPG elements? Indra was here (20768) Oct 14, 2008

Trivia

1001 Video Games

Cave Story appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

Legacy

In many ways the game has set a trend in quality for indie platformers. This has also led to it being brought up in discussions about originality in the indie games community. New games, even often of a completely different genre, are often described as Cave Story rip-offs, but mostly not seriously and rather as a running gag.

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Terrence Bosky.

GP2X Wiz, Dreamcast, GP2X added by Sciere. Amiga, Linux added by Iggi. Macintosh added by Scaryfun. Nintendo DSi added by Ben K.

Additional contributors: Sciere, Solid Flamingo, MegamanX64, Patrick Bregger, FatherJack.

Game added February 8, 2005. Last modified February 9, 2024.