Joe Sparrow / Illustrator - Animator - Designer / 07758224292 /

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Cave Story aka Doukutsu Monogatari

Cave Story is a weird little game you can download for your computer (and, as of last year, your Wii). It looks a little like Super Mario World at a first glance - little guy in a red cap, pretty pixelly world graphics - and the comparison isn't entirely superficial.

It has a little more than a straightforward platformer-save-the-princess sort of vibe, verging off into JRPG territory a bit in terms of the story (but don't let that put you off at all). The tale itself is a compelling one and it's told well, with interestingly-implemented dialogue choices and multiple endings.

The bizarre thing is, the whole game was supposedly artworked, coded and published by one guy - a japanese fella known cryptically (and kind of boringly) as Pixel. I don't want to touch on the whole games-as-art debate but this game is so lovingly rendered, so well paced and perfectly laid-out in general, it kind of goes beyond "art" or whatever - it isn't just pretty pixels. everything happens in the right way, the difficulty curve is well-graded, the story is told so you know exactly the right amount at the right time - the last videogame I played that hit this feeling so effortlessly was Ico, which is a game I try not to harp on about but feel deserves every haughty compliment thrown at it. Cave Story has all of Ico's stoic charm but with a much more vibrant world - the batshit craziness of some of the game's concepts just blows me away, moreso even than something like Earthbound.

The overwhelming feeling after playing Cave Story is one of admiration of its makers. It's an excellent show of craftsmanship, and will give any aspiring artist a thrill of jealousy at never being able to make something quite this good. But besides that, it's terribly fun and isn't too long, so go download and play it right now.


Jonathan Harris said...

Okay, it is seriously weird that you posted this today, because just hours ago I was listening to the soundtrack while drawing and thinking "Man, Cave Story was so awesome, I kinda of want to write about how awesome it still is but it's literally 6 years old so that's kind of pointless." Then I get on here and you've done it anyway!

Have you been through hell?

Joe Sparrow said...

no, i'm just playing it through for the second time with the intention of doing that though. it took me quite a few times to do the last boss so it's gonna be interesting getting to it without using that life potion thingy.

Jonathan Harris said...

That's the least of your worries, believe me!