Weekly Game Music: On To Grasstown (Cave Story)

Going back to chip tune again, On To Grasstown is from a free PC game called Cave Story. This game’s design, artwork, code, sound, and music were put together by one Japanese man, Daisuke Amaya, within 5 years. While initial introduction was slow, the game gained massive popularity when translated to english, starting a new wave of indie games that still inspires young developers today.

One of Cave Story’s strength is in its tragic story. The story begins with Doctor laughing at what looks like a crown, then obtaining it. Scene changes: there’s now a text chat between a boy in a lab coat attempting to contact “Sue.” Another scene change: the protagonist wakes up in a cave. He’s mute, amnesiac, and defenseless. First thing he does is climb up, and travel further into the cave for a weapon.

If that sounded confusing to you, this is intentional. The further one progresses through the game, the more the details starts becoming cohesive. Shortly in the game, you’ll accidentally fall into a small town of rabbit-like creatures called Mimigas. You learn that the Doctor is kidnapping each citizen one-by-one. You find that the Doctor kidnapped Toroko, a Mimiga that’s mistaken as Sue. You meet Sue. There are Dragon eggs. The boy in the lab coat reveals himself. By progressing through the story, each detail makes the world more complete. In fact, even mentioning the name of the protagonist is a spoiler.

Cave Story is a Metroidvania game — a platformer shoot-em’ up like the Megaman series, but emphasizing on exploration over action. There are hidden items to collect, different weapons, and multiple endings. It’s difficult to find every one of them in the first run, so there’s a high replay value behind this game. The old-school graphics has a certain cute charm to it as well; a bit ironic considering how bleak the story becomes.

The best part of Cave Story, however, is its excellent level design and surprisingly polished story. Each level is intentionally designed to help introduce and demonstrate a new weapon. The game doesn’t feel too difficult until the very end. Also with the story, the fact that the protagonist doesn’t remember anything helps interject your own views of the world. As the details pour in, you become the protagonist, learning slowly what your purpose is, and how to fight it.

Cave Story is available for the PC, Mac, Linux, PSP, Xbox, and TI-83 Plus for free. A polished version is available for payed download on the WiiWare and DSiWare as a downloadable. Similarly, Cave Story+ is on PC and Mac via Steam and App Store respectively. Lastly, Cave Story 3D is now available for the 3DS.


Title: Cave Story
Game: Cave Story (Wii, DS), Cave Story+
Composer: Daisuke Amaya
Remixer: Yann van der Cruyssen

Title: Escape Route
Game: Cave Story
Composer: Daisuke Amaya
Remixer: Corran


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