Strange Free Games: Cave Story

Ah, yes. Here’s the game that inspired me to create this entire blog series. It’s a game that inspired countless independent game developers. It’s an epic, a mystery, and a tragedy. And it was made by one man, in Japan. Here’s Cave Story, a cute Megaman-inspired platform-shooter, with an excellent but bleak story.

Cave Story has been translated and ported to Windows, Mac, and Linux.

It’s hard to tell the story of Cave Story without spoiling much. As an example, the protagonist’s name is a spoiler in and of it itself. The game drops you completely confused: you witness a scientist retrieving what looks like a crown surrounded by two bubbles containing statues. Then, you witness an online conversation between what looks like a scientist and another girl named Suzie. After that…you wake up in a cave. No memories, no idea where you are, no nothing. Yet, that starting point becomes the strength of the game: as the details pour in, the first two scenes start to make sense. You learn who you are (and that itself will surprise you), what Suzie is, why a guy was trying to chat with her in the first place, and what that crown was about.

For its bizarre story, Cave Story has a simple and straight-forward gameplay. Much like old-school shoot’em-up, the protagonist can jump from platform to platform, and shoot his gun (which has limited range) up, down, left or right. Defeating enemies either gives you health or XP: experience points upgrades your weapon with more power and longer range, while being hit by an enemy reduces your experience points. The joy, of course, of discovering new guns is finding out what they do at their highest levels, level 3. One gun grants you the power to fly, while another acts as your shield. Learning to use which one, in what situation is one of the charm in this game.
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