Crispy Gamer

Initial Impressions: Cave Story

in

"From somewhere, a transmission..."

I'm a few hours into the Wii version of Cave Story, and I can't help but appreciate creator Daisuke Amaya's love for games.  I feel like I'm playing a strange, but wonderful, amalgam of some of Nintendo's biggest titles.  Super Mario's dark, platformed caves, Zelda's device driven puzzle-solving and item collection, Mega Man's frantic hop-and-shoot, and Pokémon's whimsical depiction of an everyday world filled with fantastic technology.   But while it’s clear that Cave Story honors its ancestors, it’s readily apparent that this game’s story runs far deeper than any of its influencers.

I’m particularly enjoying Cave Story’s experience system.  Defeated enemies drop experience pellets, which are used to level up not the player, but whichever weapon is currently equipped, granting it increased damage and abilities.  When your character takes damage, he (or she, an option in the Wii version) loses both health and weapon XP.  Get hit enough, and your weapon will de-level, reducing its effectiveness.  This introduces a new strategic element to combat - I may start a Boss battle with my most appropriate weapon at max level, but as I am hit, my weapon devolves, forcing me to switch weapons and tactics.

Overall, I’m enjoying the journey so far.  The game is easy to pick up and play, and does a good job of organically educating the player in its world and rules.  Two nit-picks so far:

1) Enemies drop a lot more experience pellets than I need, and the high-pitched sound effect of these useless powerups scattering into unreachable parts of the level continues to piece my skull until, after what sounds like an eternity, they finally poof.

2) While the game’s save points are well-placed, if I die, I find that I am often forced to sit through long swarths of repeated dialog.

Back to the Story!  Look for my full review in a few days.