Monday, December 27, 2010

Vanyalic Game [Shock] of the Year: Cave Story

Did you ever experience this feeling where you do something not expecting anything from it and then get repeatedly shocked that no matter how your expectations raise you still don't reach how great that thing is? You see I don't know any proper word to express this feeling, that's how unusual it is and what happened to me as I was playing Doukutsu Monogatari (AKA: Cave Story) the first time! Most of the games were boring to me lately, and even the good ones were good because they felt like old games I played before. That might be why I misjudged Doukutsu at first. It was really good from the moment I held the controller, but I thought it was only that because I missed decent 2D games and decided to play it when I have some free time to waste. Thank god that happened before the end of the year or another game might have stolen this post which ONLY Doukutsu Monogatari deserves to take! It's easily the most original experience I had with a game this year, and one that I know I'll set as a staple example forever to go.

You might notice that I avoided defining its genre and only mentioned that it looks like a traditional 2D game until this point, the reason is that I can't seem to do it justice no matter what games I try to group it with. Doukutsu Monogatari has the "Mario" platforming, "Contra" action, "Metroid" exploration, "RPG" decisions, "Tomba!" quests, and "Megaman" perfect pixel design blended together with overdose of originality added to them! The perfect floaty jumping mechanism deserved to be praised here, because the design of every obstacle in the game is carefully calculated according to it. That alone gave me rushes of adrenaline I longed for, and add to that some insane boss battles that will make you bounce in there! When was the last time that you had 4 consecutive final boss battles without a convenient mean to replenish your health? And that wasn't even the ultimate final battle of the game?! Yeah, Doukutsu Monogatari can be difficult at times, but there are hardly any cheap deaths you'll encounter in your breakthrough (it doesn't mean that you wont hate it for asking too much of you sometimes haha!). It didn't happen to me, but even if you die a lot at first, you'll gain playing experience that will help you getting past harder obstacles later on. I'm genuinely amazed by how balanced from A to Z Doukutsu Monogatari is! Perfection was achieved during the 5 years spent on tweaking this masterpiece of a game.

There is another thing I must glorify about Doukutsu Monogatari, that is the soundtrack! To be in a perfect blend with the retro/pseudoretro pixel design the game has, the OST is also composed of midi-like tracks (in .org format which sounds similar). You guessed right! It's catchy, you can't get enough of it, and it keeps repeating itself like a virus in your head when you don't play! But wait, there is more to it than that. The pieces have unique tunes to them which makes them immediately recognizable as Doukutsu Monogatari tracks. In easy language, it's not like the generic retro midi tracks that despite being "slightly" noisy we have "pleasure" listening to them. Further more, the music is extremely variant, and each track has a mood of its own. That added even more character to the different stages you advance through in-game. I felt calmness, excitement, creepiness, funkiness, melancholy, encouragement and all that just listening to the music tracks Doukutsu Monogatari is treasured with. Soundtrack composers need to take an example from that!

Ah, I'm telling you all to go have "gamorgasm" playing Doukutsu Monogatari as I'm planning to do myself during the next vacation I have. The game has different paths which I'm not finished with yet, and I heard that the hidden final area is literally as hard as hell to complete so I want to be well prepared haha!

p.s. On a related matter I have the urge to say this here.. Screw all the money cows delivered by big-mouthed developers and raised by greedy publishers which are called and advertised as games. It's not just Cave Story, there is no way in hell for these to reach a fragment of the awesomeness that unknown/indie developers brought to us this generation so far! Total brilliance. I'll bet my money on them from now on, what an easy bet that is! <3

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