I watched a playthrough of the original Cave Story on Youtube a few years back, & when I saw the enhanced version, Cave Story +, on sale from Steam a few months ago I decided to give it a go myself. I don’t remember a whole lot as far as specific level layout so I’m not really cheating, plus the game’s old-school style seemed interesting. It’s very reminiscent of the old 8-bit 2D adventures such as Metroid, not just in art style or music but in design.
As the name suggests, the entire game takes place in a winding cave system. The main character is a robot boy named Quote (I’m not sure if the game at any point calls him that, but I read that’s his name) who is apparently a survivor of a war long ago fought between humans & these rabbit-looking creatures called Mimigas. From what I’ve played of the game so far, Quote gets involved in helping some human stop an evil Doctor from collecting red flowers that send the Mimigas into an uncontrollable rage so he can take over the surface world.
The gameplay involved a lot of exploration & combat. There’s a lot (& I mean a lot) of platforming, which I have mixed feelings about. But I’ll get to that later. The layout of the caves are fairly linear, but there are areas that you can pass by without noticing that hide goodies like health increases or special weapons. For example, in one portion of the caves you learn that jellyfish juice can be used to put out fires in fireplaces. This gives you the option to put out a fire back in the starting village to get an optional gun. It’s things like this that encourage you to explore & gather everything you can. They’re not required to progress, but they can make things easier.
As far as combat is concerned, there’s a nice variety of unique enemies that seem specific to the area they’re in. One zone has these legless bunny things that try to bounce on you, while the desert zone has lots of skeletal enemies. Not only does Quote have a health bar, but as you defeat enemies you gain crystals to power up your weapons. Each weapon has three levels. Getting hit not only lowers your health, but lowers the level of your gun. And while we’re on the subject, there’s a nice variety to the weaponry as well. So far I’ve collected the standard gun, a missile launcher, one that shoots fireballs & one that shoots bubbles (which is more useful than it sounds because at max level it can create an impenetrable shield of bubbles around you).
I do remember that the game has a sort of hidden best ending where you have to have certain items of have done certain actions previously in the game, similar to Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. We’ll see if I’m able to get it the first time around.
The music’s also enjoyable so far. It’s all 8-bit of course, so it’s not the most complicated scores, but there are some nice ones. I particularly like the music in the Sand Zone & Balrog’s theme.
However, I do have issues with the way the game controls. Firstly, jumping feels very slick — & not in the good way. Quote seems to slide around too much. Given how precise some of the jumping has to be, this is a major issue. Seriously, sometimes it’s just a single block. There was one section where you have to ride some jets of air that I was about to give up on the game completely. I also have trouble with the controls in general. Instead of using WASD, you move with the arrow keys. I just lack the coordination for that. It may be my own issue with lack of practice & familiarity (I’m used to WASD to move & the mouse to attack), but it’s annoying that I can’t reprogram the controls to what I want. You can change the controls, but for some reason I couldn’t change Down to S so I just left it on the arrows.
I have a gamepad ordered & I should get it this week, so hopefully that will solve some of my coordination issues. Otherwise it may be a painful experience.