Review by Bkstunt_31
"Without a doubt one of the best freeware games out there today!"
Hey, it's Dokutsu Monogatari! Better known as Cave Story, this Freeware PC game came out in 2004. I had heard a LOT of good things about it (such as it was developed by a single person in his free time and was an addicting "castleroid" type game), but DIDN'T get it because I heard it was coming to the Nintendo DS. Well it turns out that it was ported to the Wii's Wiiware system and IS being planned for a remake on the DS... the 3DS. Sorry Nintendo, I just can't plop down all that money to buy a 3DS yet... so here's my review for the FREE PC version of Cave Story.
Cave Story doesn't start you off with ANY info whatsoever. All that you know is that you're alone in a cave, with no memory of how you got there. After "finding" a weapon, you'll make your way to a village. Here, you'll find some residents of the land, the Mimigas (some sort of intelligent rabbit-like creature). After poking around the village for awhile, you'll soon discover that the poor Mimigas are living in constant fear of being taken by the evil "Doctor", and that one named Sue claims to have been a human. From there you'll soon be drawn into Sue's struggle to find her father and the battle between the evil Doctor and his minions versus the Mimigas...
As you play Cave Story, it will dole out its background and setting for you over the course of the game... but don't expect to learn and do everything in one play-through. Cave Story was MADE to be played at least twice as it withholds information from you unless you get a certain ending (it has three endings in total: bad, normal, and good). The story itself is quite good, and while you may never learn a WHOLE lot about yourself you will learn a lot about your setting and its history. The fact that you keep running into the same characters over and over helps to endear them to you and make them more memorable.
Game play: 8/10
Cave Story is an amalgamation of a bunch of different game ideas. By far its biggest inspiration seems to be Metroid. Exploring the 'First Cave' and the surrounding areas is a lot like Metroid, as is the fact that you collect heart cylinders to gain more health. You'll also have an inventory and map system. However, the real draw (and fun) of the game play HAS to be the combat. Your character will discover a MULTITUDE of guns (many which are hidden) and can freely swap between them in combat. Each gun has its uses and different fire types. However, as you defeat enemies they will drop yellow triangles, which you can collect to power up your weapon. This actually "levels up" your weapon, and as the weapon levels up (going from 1 > 2, and 2 > 3), the power and behavior of your bullets CHANGE!
The gun leveling-up aspect of the game is extremely entertaining and is balanced out by the fact that, if you get hit, you actually LOSE a portion of your gun's "level up" bar (as well as some health), giving you a good incentive to avoid damage. But don't worry, you can always kill some more enemies to gather more experience triangles (and health!).
The game also packs in some rocket boots to provide some much-needed mobility, but more importantly packs in SEVERAL entertaining boss fights! While you'll certainly fight the evil doctor's minions once or twice (or half a dozen times), you'll also get to fight a few screen-filling bosses (and have a heck of a time doing so!). The game may not be as long or refined as others that it tries to emulate, but it does a good job and is more importantly entertaining!
Don't expect anything new or groundbreaking here, as the graphics define what Cave Story is all about (or what it turned into after a 5 year development period by a single person): classic retro game play. The graphics are decidedly retro (reminiscent of the 16-bit era), but charming throughout the game. The environments are wonderfully varied and sport a good amount of detail, but are often not very big (or if they are big, like the egg corridor, they get repetitive fast). As I've seen other people state: "The graphics are fashionably retro." I'm sure you will enjoy them.
Just like its graphics and game play, Cave Story gives you some classic retro sound tracks. These tracks are nothing short of fantastic (I highly urge you to head on over to YouTube and listen to the official sound tracks if you don't believe me). Tracks like "Geothermal", "Moonsong", and "On to Grasstown" are SO good that if they were in an older NES classic people would be touting them as some of the best of their era.
There is no voice acting in the game, but all the sound effects are well done and are where they should be. The soundtrack plays a HUGE part in making Cave Story so good... be sure to turn up the volume, as you won't be disappointed.
Unfortunately, Cave Story ISN'T that long, but what it lacks in length it makes up for in re-playability. You see, Cave Story was designed to MAKE you play through it at least TWICE. It does this by hiding the best ending under certain circumstances that no one would do UNLESS they knew about the best ending ahead of time. Thankfully, even when you're going down the path of the normal ending, the game is good enough to point out to you that there is another better ending to be had.
The game also features a "bad" ending as well as several secrets for you to find (many of which give you new weapons or upgrade the ones you have), which encourages exploration.
Cave Story has to be, without a doubt, the single best free game I've ever played... the fact that a SINGLE person made this is even more mind-boggling, and its good to see that he's seeing his just rewards through having the game remade for the Nintendo 3DS. You can find this game easily at a number of places on the internet, and it has of course been translated to English, so since you have literally nothing to lose go download it! Have fun and keep playing!
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 06/10/11
Game Release: Doukutsu Monogatari (JP, 12/20/04)
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