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Game Reviewed: Cave Story
Developer: Studio Pixel Nicalis
Platform: Wii (Also on PC)
Category: 2D Platform Adventure
ESRB Rating: E10+
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Cave Story is a modern game delivered in retro 2D style graphics and gameplay that players who grew up with the original Nintendo will most likely find very familiar. This review is based on a playthrough to the “normal” ending. Cave Story has three endings.
Cave Story begins with you, the player, in a cave with no knowledge of whom you are or why you are there. You have no weapon to begin with and if you are like me, you quickly discover it is not going to take much to see the dreaded game over screen. Once you finally make it through the first few caves, you literally drop into the middle of a conversation between two rabbit like creatures called Mimiga. While in their village, you discover that this once thriving place has been reduced to only a few Mimiga. Many have been kidnapped by a man simply known as “The Doctor.” While you are in the village, two of The Doctor’s minions kidnap a Mimiga who happens to be the Mimiga leader’s sister. Those minions were actually after a Mimiga named Sue, who, in a few intercepted instant message sessions, you learn a man named Kazuma is also looking for. Your initial mission is to find Sue. As you seek her out, you will discover much more about the Mimiga, the Doctor, the island, and eventually who you are and why you woke up alone in these caves.
Cave Story is a fairly difficult platform game. Your character explores the caverns primarily by running, jumping and shooting. Different weapons and items are picked up along the way to help you advance. Each weapon you discover can be leveled up and made more powerful by little bouncing triangles that fall to the ground after enemies are defeated. You have to be very careful about what choices you make and what items and weapons you choose or refuse. Some items can make things a lot easier, some can make it a lot harder. Not only that, but some of the items determine which of Cave Stories three endings you will receive.
What Parents Need To Know
The violence in Cave Story is also very reminiscent of the old school, non-realistic graphics of Nintendo games of old. The hero can attack enemies with several different projectile weapons, including a machine gun, fireballs, and a throwing sword. Enemies attack by running into you or hitting you with projectiles. Both you and enemies burst into smoke and disappear when defeated. Several Mimiga are punched, thrown around, and several are killed.
The "doctor" bursts into red splotches when defeated. In the context of the game, this is assumed to be flowers and not blood.
There is one derogatory remark in which a character says “Dr. Dumb can go screw himself.” There is also some aggressive remarks that are made such as “Please kill my master.”
One of the stranger items you can discover is a character's panties. They are found in a treasure chest and seem to serve no purpose other than comedic effect.
The Doctor is pursuing an artifact called the Demon Crown that gives the wearer magical powers. Magic is said to have turned a person into a Mimiga. Magic is expressed in lightning bolts and various other projectiles. Two characters are referred to as witches. There is a boss called the Undead Core. In the end credits a list of the enemies is given and several are referred to as ghosts, spirits, or demons.
The final boss in Normal Mode is Undead Core. Even though the graphics are not intensely realistic, it is a bit creepy. The Core looks similar to an eyeball, and sometimes the internal part of the eye is a red face or teeth.
The PC version of the game uses a different translation. As a result, some dialogue and names are different. The most notable is the Sanctuary area being called Hell, and an enemy called a demon instead of an ogre in the PC version.
I thought Cave Story was a lot of fun. I grew up in the age when the Nintendo Entertainment System introduced the world to Castlevania, Mega Man, and Super Mario Bros., so I really enjoyed the retro feel of this game. The story was interesting and I liked how it slowly unfolded as you met characters and explored the caves. If you are a fan of retro games, or want to experience a game that will remind you of what a challenging retro game used to be, you will probably enjoy Cave Story.