When I first started playing Cave Story on PSP, I didn’t “get it”, I thought it was ridiculous- pushing DOWN to enter doors, really? Then after I got over my problems with a few design choices like that, I became the recipient of what I have come to call my latest digital addiction. Playing into the wee hours of the night (with my day job looming at me every step of the way), I found myself thinking, “Let me find this one key, secret to this area or open that door, etc and then I am turning it off.” That hasn’t happened nearly as much as my PSP battery light blinking at me, alerting me that it will turn off for me.
Setup similar to Metroid and the many many copycats available, Cave Story sets out to be slightly different- not so much that fans of that type of game are turned off, but just enough to keep those fans interested. Back tracking, level grinding, powering up weapons and figuring out what the heck you are supposed to do to advance are commonplace in Cave Story– how you react is the difference maker. See, in other games that travel this path, frustration is a major fun killer. I am not saying that you will never be frustrated with Cave Story, oh will you ever be frustrated, but something inside of you will nag at you to figure out the problem so you can advance in the game- an element similar titles are missing. Fun factor.
The graphics are minuscule, and oftentimes the cause of missed items that are needed to go further in the game (look everywhere, including the ceiling when you are on a specific quest for an item/creature). Many are hidden in the details that make the game world, which can lead to many many “duh” moments when you realize what you have been looking for has been stepped on more times than a Parade Deck on a battleship. It is also moments like this that help reinforce the need to explore and be tuned into the minutia that make up the levels (the real difficulty begins when the item you need is not even on the level you are currently searching).
Cave Story crosses that fine line between action, adventure, role playing, shooter and puzzle game, in fact, it dances all over those lines and smiles about it. That is part of the charm here, nothing is more prominent than having fun with the game world presented to you. One minute you may be blasting enemies, the next trying to find a key then trying to upgrade your weapon when you find that tough boss or realize that you are low on health from the barrage of enemies.
Not all homebrew is a hack or blatant theft of someone else’s copyrighted work (come on Beats of Rage community, get with it and make YOUR OWN sprites and sounds for your games). Cave Story is a great title that will drain your PSP battery more than a handfull of times before you beat it.