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Cave Story

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Cave Story
Title screen of Cave Story
Developer(s) PC
Studio Pixel
Studio Pixel, Nicalis
Publisher(s) Studio Pixel
Nicalis (WiiWare)
Designer(s) Daisuke "Pixel" Amaya
Release date PC
December 20, 2004 (JP)
2010 (JP)
March 22, 2010 (NA)
2010 (PAL)
Genre Action-adventure
Mode(s) Single-player
Age rating(s) ESRB: E10+
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows, Wii (WiiWare)
System requirements Windows 98, 2000 or XP, DirectX 5.0+
Credits | Soundtrack | Codes | Walkthrough

Cave Story (洞窟物語 Dōkutsu Monogatari?) is a freeware platform-adventure video game released in 2004 for PC. It was designed and programmed over five years by Daisuke Amaya, art-name Pixel, in his free time. The game features classic 2D platform mechanics and is intended as an homage to the classic games that Pixel played in his youth, such as Metroid and Castlevania.

The game focuses on an amnesiac silent protagonist who awakens in a cave. Through his explorations, he discovers a plot by the Doctor, a megalomaniac who intends to force the inhabitants of the cave to fight for him in his bid to conquer the world. The protagonist is thrust into the position of savior as he endeavours to defeat the Doctor.

After its initial release on the Internet, Cave Story slowly gained popularity as an indie game. It received near universal acclaim for its compelling story and gameplay. As a result, Nicalis, an independent video game company, worked with Pixel to bring the game to Nintendo's WiiWare service in 2010. This version features more detailed artwork and additional gameplay modes, and has been nominated for 2010 Nintendo Power Awards Game of the Year.



The player controls the on-screen character directly using a control pad. The player progresses by jumping and navigating platform game puzzles and shooting enemies with the equipped weapon.[1] When the player collects multiple weapons, they may be toggled at any time with the press of a button. Defeating enemies sometimes yields yellow triangular objects which give experience points to weapons when collected.[2] Weapons may be improved up to level three, but taking damage causes weapons to lose experience and levels.[3] Health and missile capacity upgrades are scattered throughout the game world. The player interacts with non-player characters and objects by pressing down on the control pad.



Cave Story takes place within the cavernous interior of a floating island. The island is populated by Mimigas, a race of sentient, bunny-like humanoids. A particular species of red flower that grows in the island causes the normally peaceful Mimigas to go into a vicious frenzy.[4] The island also conceals an artifact called the Demon Crown, which has vast magical powers. A previous expedition to the floating island sought to harness the power of the red flowers and Demon Crown to use as a weapon for wars on the surface world.[5]


The player character awakens in a cave with no memory of how he came to be there. He finds a village of Mimigas, who are being persecuted by the "Doctor". Two of the Doctor's servants, Misery and Balrog, are looking for Sue Sakamoto, a girl who had been transformed into a Mimiga, but mistakenly abduct Toroko, another Mimiga, instead. The player finds Sue in the Egg Corridor, where she discovers the eggs of a Sky Dragon, which could allow her to escape the floating island if hatched.[6] Sue attempts to rescue her brother Kazuma, but King, the leader of Mimiga Village, captures her and holds her responsible for Toroko's kidnapping. Sue tasks the player with retrieving Kazuma from Grasstown. After freeing him, they meet Professor Booster, who reveals that the Doctor plans to use the red flowers on Mimigas to create an army to take over the surface world. Booster sends the player to the Sand Zone to destroy the red flowers before the Doctor can find them. While there, the player meets Curly Brace, a female robot who also has no memories of her past, and Jenka, an old witch who is Misery's mother. She calls the player character a "soldier from the surface", one of many who were sent to the island to slaughter the Mimigas.[7] Balrog steals the key to the storehouse where the red flowers are kept from Jenka. The Doctor forces Toroko to eat a red flower as a test, but King arrives to try to stop him and is killed in the process. The player is forced to kill Toroko, who has gone into a murderous rage as a result of the flowers.

Misery transports the player to the Labyrinth deep inside the island as punishment for interfering with the Doctor's plans. Curly Brace has also been thrown into the Labyrinth and they cooperate to escape. Balrog helps them to move the boulder blocking the exit, revealing his kind nature.[8] The pair find and defeat the Core, a magical creature whose power keeps the island afloat. However, the Doctor steps in to save it before the island collapses.[9] Depending on certain conditions, the player may rescue Curly Brace, who had sacrificed her air tank to save the player character. When he returns to Mimiga Village, he finds that the Doctor has captured the Mimigas. In the Egg Corridor, Kazuma offers the player a choice to escape the island with him using a Sky Dragon, leading to an alternate ending in which the Doctor may or may not have conquered the surface world while Kazuma and the player hide in the mountains.[10] The player may instead choose to confront the Doctor and destroy the island's Core, which returns the Mimigas to normal. The player scales the outer wall of the island to reach the Plantation where the Doctor is using the Mimigas as slave laborers to grow red flowers. The Doctor's servants capture him and place him in a jail cell with Sue. She is taken away before the player wakes up, but her letter reveals that the Doctor was a member of the research expedition that included Sue's family and Professor Booster, but he betrayed them once he found the Demon Crown. Sue directs the player to find her mother who may have a plan to stop the Doctor.[11]

If the player saved Curly Brace earlier, the player may find an item to restore her memories. She remembers that the player character's name is Quote and that they were not killer robots who slaughtered Mimigas in the past. Instead, they were sent to destroy the Demon Crown to prevent its power from falling into the wrong hands.[12] Quote finds Sue's mother, Momorin, who is building a rocket which will allow access to the top of the island where the Doctor resides. After helping her complete the rocket, Quote confronts Misery and the Doctor. The Doctor has purified the essence of the red flowers into a crystal, which allows him to survive even after Quote destroys his body.[13] The Doctor's spirit possesses the Core of the island, but Quote succeeds in destroying that as well, causing the island to begin falling to Earth. Under certain conditions, the player may proceed into a bonus stage called the Sanctuary where the creator of the Demon Crown, Ballos, is imprisoned. Ballos, Jenka's brother, was a powerful wizard who went insane after being tortured. Misery forced Ballos to create the Demon Crown, but she and Balrog became cursed to serve whoever possessed it.[14] With the help of Curly Brace, Quote defeats Ballos and stops the source of the negative energy that was causing the island to fall, saving its inhabitants. Balrog saves the two before they are crushed by Ballos' collapsing prison—he had been sent by Misery as thanks for breaking her curse. Quote, Curly Brace, and Balrog leave the island to live out their days in peace.[15]


Pixel developed Cave Story in his free time over the course of five years. He began the project when he was in college and continued working on it after getting a job as a software developer.[16] He started by writing the title screen music and programming rudimentary character movements.[17] In an interview, Pixel admitted his lack of planning caused "problems down the line" because he lacked dedicated map editing and data management tools.[16] Pixel describes the game as having an "old-fashioned feel", reminiscent of the games he played as a child.[17] In early versions of the game, the main character, Quote, was named Curly Brace and Balrog was a common enemy.[18] Pixel also admitted that he based Balrog on a bar of soap.[17]

Versions and ports

Cave Story has been ported to the AmigaOS 4,[19] Linux,[20] and Mac OS X[21] operating systems, PlayStation Portable,[22] Xbox, GP2X, and TI graphing calculator.[20] A Nintendo DS homebrew version was in development, however, it was canceled at the request from Pixel himself, fearing that it would go against his recent contract with Nintendo and Nicalis for porting Cave Story to the Wii.[23] Nicalis, an independent video game company, ported Cave Story to WiiWare in 2010. In addition to the original version, Nicalis worked with Pixel to create updated character designs,[24] a new English localization,[25] and enhanced graphics and music (arranged by Yann van der Cruyssen and others).[26] It also contains several exclusive gameplay modes, including Boss Rush, a Sanctuary time attack mode, and the ability to play through the game as Curly Brace.[27] Due to a bug in the code, the arranged music suffers from occasional playback issues.[28] As a result of the popularity of the WiiWare version, Nicalis is considering ports of Ikachan and Guxt, other freeware games by Pixel, for DSiWare.[29]


 Wii reception
Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 90.30%[30]
Metacritic 90 of 100[31]
Review scores
Publication Score A[27]
Edge 8 of 10[32]
Eurogamer 9 of 10[33]
Game Informer 8.75 of 10[2]
IGN 8.5 of 10[3]
Destructoid 9.5 of 10[1]

Cave Story has been very well received by critics. described it as "so massive that it rivals modern GBA Castlevania and Metroid games in terms of scope and play time".[34] Inside Mac Games ascribed the game's popularity to its "polished feel, engaging storyline, and compelling artwork".[35] In July 2006, Cave Story earned 1st place in Super PLAY's list of the 50 best freeware games of all time.[36] EGM stated that "the burgeoning Western indie game scene owes a tremendous debt to Japanese pioneers like Studio Pixel, whose freeware hit Cave Story proved that with sufficient vision, skill, and passion, a single developer can still craft a deep, compelling action game".[37]

The WiiWare version has received mostly positive reviews, with the central criticism being the 1200 Wii Point price tag (US$12, £10), after years of free play. Jeremy Parish of commended the graphical update which "sacrifices none of [the game's] classic-influenced charm". He also remarked that the Classic Controller and Wii Remote are superior to the keyboard input of the PC original. On the issue of price, he explained that "the prospect of Amaya finally earning a little something for the hard work he invested in this masterpiece strikes me as satisfyingly poetic" and "absolutely worth your money".[27] John Teti of Eurogamer had similar sentiments, but also noted the technical issues with the remixed music, recommending the original soundtrack.[33] Matt Miller of Game Informer observed that Cave Story combines elements of Metroid, Ninja Gaiden, Mega Man, The Legend of Zelda, and Castlevania into an "engrossing, challenging, and quite lengthy" whole.[2] Daemon Hatfield of IGN felt that Cave Story "belongs on a Nintendo system" and noted gameplay similarities to Blaster Master, in which damage reduces the power of weapons as well.[3] Jonathan Holmes of Destructoid called Cave Story an "important game", citing its influence on artistic indie games like Braid, as well as the continued relevance 2D game design (cf. Capcom's Mega Man 9). He also compares the game design to that of Shigeru Miyamoto in its ability to teach without tutorials, like at the beginning of Super Mario Bros.[1] Cave Story was nominated for Game of the Year at the 2010 Nintendo Power Awards, as well as WiiWare Game of the Year.[38]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Holmes, Jonathan (2010-03-29). Review: Cave Story (WiiWare). Destructoid. Retrieved on 2010-07-05.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Miller, Matt (2010-03-23). Cave Story. Game Informer. Retrieved on 2010-07-05.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Hatfield, Daemon (2010-03-19). Cave Story Review. IGN. Retrieved on 2010-07-05.
  4. Studio Pixel. Cave Story. (Studio Pixel). PC. (2004-12-20) "Jenka: Concerned, the Mimigas finally ingested the forbidden red flowers, and in their murderous rage began to strike back against the robots."
  5. Studio Pixel. Cave Story. (Studio Pixel). PC. (2004-12-20) "Curly Brace: Back then, a huge number of robots were sent to this island from countries on the Earth's surface. Their target was the awesome power kept within this island... The Demon Crown."
  6. Studio Pixel. Cave Story. (Studio Pixel). PC. (2004-12-20) "Sue: This egg could be our ticket off this island!"
  7. Studio Pixel. Cave Story. (Studio Pixel). PC. (2004-12-20) "Jenka: You're a soldier from the surface, aren't you. ..... It wasn't long ago that hundreds of robots like you came to this island. Countless Mimigas perished at their hands."
  8. Studio Pixel. Cave Story. (Studio Pixel). PC. (2004-12-20) "Balrog: You win... I'll move the rock for you. But remember... Don't tell ANYONE that I helped you."
  9. Studio Pixel. Cave Story. (Studio Pixel). PC. (2004-12-20) "Misery: This is the heart of the island! If you stop it, the island will fall to the earth! / ... / Doctor: Bring the core to the laboratory at once!"
  10. Studio Pixel. Cave Story. (Studio Pixel). PC. (2004-12-20) "Narrator: And so was your escape from the island successful. Before long, the Doctor began his attack on the earth, using the floating island as a base... [Y]ou and Kazuma quietly lived out the rest of your days..."
  11. Studio Pixel. Cave Story. (Studio Pixel). PC. (2004-12-20) "Sue's Letter: The Doctor knew this even before coming to the island, which is why he wormed his way into our group in the first place. Once he had the Crown in his possession, no one could stand up to him... Help my mother. The password is "Litagano Motscoud"."
  12. Studio Pixel. Cave Story. (Studio Pixel). PC. (2004-12-20) "Curly Brace: Your name's Quote! ... The two of us were sent in order to destroy [the Crown]."
  13. Studio Pixel. Cave Story. (Studio Pixel). PC. (2004-12-20) "Doctor: The power of the Red Crystal is wondrous indeed... My body may be wrecked, but my consciousness has never been more distinct."
  14. Studio Pixel. Cave Story. (Studio Pixel). PC. (2004-12-20) "Narrator: It was Jenka's daughter Misery who made Ballos create the Demon Crown. She was subsequently cursed by the crown, forced to do the bidding of all who wear it."
  15. Studio Pixel. Cave Story. (Studio Pixel). PC. (2004-12-20) "Balrog: You beat Ballos, right? When you did that, it lifted our curse. / ... / Curly Brace: Our mission is over, and now I just want to live out my days somewhere where I can relax and enjoy a beautiful view... / Balrog: ...would it be all right if I joined you there?"
  16. 16.0 16.1 Yu, Derek (2005-04-07). Interview: PIXEL. The Independent Gaming Source. Archived from the original on 2005-11-25. Retrieved on 2009-05-21.
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 Nintendo Channel: Cave Story - Developer's Voice. Nintendo. 2010-03-15. Retrieved 2010-07-08. 
  18. Cave Story Beta Information. Retrieved on 2009-06-27.
  19. Mackay, Peter; S. Parzer, P. Gordon, J. Samuelsson (2008-07-07). Doukutsu Monogatari - Cave Story for AmigaOS 4. Retrieved on 2009-05-21.[dead link]
  20. 20.0 20.1 andwhyisit (2007-12-28). Cave Story (Doukutsu Monogatari), A Tribute Site. Retrieved on 2009-10-11.
  21. Turtle (2006-02-05). Cave Story Mac English Translation Patch. Retrieved on 2009-05-21.
  22. Cave Story PSP. Retrieved on 2009-05-21.
  23. RawmeatCowboy (2009-01-13). What happened to the Cave Story DS port?. GoNintendo. Retrieved on 2010-03-31.
  24. Cassidy, Kevin (2008-10-04). Cave Story - fact sheet. GoNintendo. Retrieved on 2009-05-21.
  25. Rodriguez, Tyrone (2009-08-11). How Long Does It Take to Translate a Game?. Nicalis. Retrieved on 2009-08-11.[dead link]
  26. Cassidy, Kevin (2008-10-06). The Cave Story interview - we get the full skinny from Nicalis frontman Tyrone Rodriguez, and Pixel himself. GoNintendo. Retrieved on 2009-05-21.
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 Parish, Jeremy (2010-03-22). Cave Story (Wii). Retrieved on 2010-07-05.
  28. Caoili, Eric (2010-03-23). Cave Story WiiWare’s jacked up music. Tiny Cartridge. Retrieved on 2010-07-06.
  29. Mastrapa, Gus (2010-06-10). Nicalis Hints At More Games From Cave Story Creator. Retrieved on 2010-07-06.
  30. Cave Story. GameRankings. Retrieved on 2010-07-05.
  31. Cave Story. Metacritic. Retrieved on 2010-07-05.
  32. Cave Story Review. Edge. June 2010. pp. 98. 
  33. 33.0 33.1 Teti, John (2010-04-08). Cave Story Wii Review. Eurogamer. Retrieved on 2010-07-05.
  34. Sharkey, Scott (2005-02-02). Freeloader: Doukutsu Monogatari. Retrieved on 2009-05-21.
  35. Park, Eddie (2005-10-12). Doukutsu Monogatari Freeware Available. Inside Mac Games. Retrieved on 2009-05-21.
  36. "GRATIS TOPP 50". Super PLAY: 118–121. July 2006 
  37. "The Rise and Fall (and Rise?) of Japan". Electronic Gaming Monthly: 63. September 2008 
  38. Nintendo Power 250th issue!. South San Francisco, California: Future US. 2010. pp. 73. 

External links

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