Cave Story: Let’s get retro
I do not even want to know how many hours of my life I have spent playing platformer/side-scrolling video games. Heck, months would be a better unit of measurement. I grew up in the Golden Age of side-scrolling games and built up my thumb muscles thanks to the likes of the Mario Brothers, Mega Man, Master Higgins, and Simon Belmont, to name only a few. I am also well acquainted with Kirby, Samus Aran, Sonic the Hedgehog, Earthworm Jim, and the guy from Shatterhand.
So, when Andrew suggested the throwback title Cave Story for our next Gamers’ Club adventure, I was eager to give the ol’ thumbs a much-needed workout. I downloaded the WiiWare version for 1200 points (roughly $12), and I was hooked the moment I saw the title screen, in all of its pseudo 8-bit glory.
In an era of overly complex and “realistic” games, it is nice to go back to something simple: Run. Jump. Shoot. Repeat. No lengthy tutorial stages, no overlong exposition-filled cut scenes, and no listening to characters tell you how to play the game. The gameplay reminds me of Metal Slug, and in two very important aspects: you can shoot up, and you can shoot down.
Not being able to shoot up (or down) was always a criticism of most side-scrollers of my youth, mainly the original Mega Man games. I was also happy to see Cave Story didn’t feature one of the most annoying platform devices ever (at least so far): death or injury by falling from great heights.
Don’t even get me started. Yes, I realize injury or death by dropping from several levels up adds a bit of realism, but it is super annoying, and a cheap kill. I was disappointed to see this device was still in use for modern games when I played Epic Mickey. Pit deaths, and the like, sure. I accept those. If I timed a jump wrong, and fell into a hole, I deserve to be punished. But loss of health, or life, just for dropping a few screens (or less)? C’mon.
I am only about a couple hours into the game (far less if you factor in all my pit deaths), but I love the world and the characters. The Kool-Aid Man referencing Balrog gets me every time he shows up with a jovial, “Oh yeah!” I really enjoy the cartoonish and quirky WTF factor of the game. I don’t see enough of that these days.