Sunday, May 3, 2009

Games: 洞窟物語 (Cave Story)

Developed entirely by one talented individual known as Pixel over the span of five years and released for free on the Internet is perhaps the finest freeware indie game ever made, entitled 洞窟物語 (Doukutsu Monogatari), better known as Cave Story.

In Cave Story, you play the role of an android named Quote as you awaken in a strange village of rabbit-like anthropomorphic creatures called Mimiga. You quickly discover that all is not right in this odd land where the Mimiga are being terrorized and kidnapped by an enigmatic figure known only as "The Doctor" and his henchmen. Of course, saving them all from certain doom is your job.

Gameplay in Cave Story is rather similar to the Metroid series, giving you a modest variety of weaponry and tools to overcome obstacles and enemies. The potency and power of weapons can be increased by collecting the shards dropped by enemies, capable of leveling most items up through four tiers, with level 1 being relatively weak and maxed level 3 quite destructive by comparison.
Be careful, though - Cave Story's difficulty can be quite harsh, and indeed, within the first minutes of the game you'll likely meet an untimely demise, even if you're careful. Quote begins the game with very few hit points, making even a few hits (or one gentle poke from a spike) quite deadly. Additionally, Quote's currently equipped weapon loses quite a bit of its "EXP" whenever he takes damage, so you'll want to take care to keep your weapons maintained and maxed out whenever possible to maximize your damage output.
As if the main portion of the game wasn't tricky enough, the game contains a few hidden challenges with absolutely demonic difficulty for those masochists among us.

Coding, artwork and graphics, music and sounds - everything in Cave Story was built from the ground up by one man. The amount of time, effort, sweat and blood that's gone into this game is nothing short of amazing, and every ounce of it shows from beginning to end. Whereas many games of today are backed by tens of millions of dollars and dozens, if not hundreds of developers and still turn out mediocre, at best, it's an inspiring thing to see the work of one man take fruition and excel so far - and for such a low price, all the while.

Of course, the game has been entirely translated into English (as well as other languages), but you'll download the Japanese client, won't you?

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