Friday, 19 October 2012

Lost in the Music: Cave Story by Daisuke "Pixel" Amaya

     I have become quite a fan of indie games. When you place them toe to toe against triple A titles, these games can hold their own. These small developers are capable of putting out incredible games with a low budget and for the more economical spender in these tough times at a low price. Some development teams are only a few people while some are one person. They will do the art, programming and music all by themselves. That's what these titles have. It's passion, something that I feel alot of triple A titles are missing these days.

     I wouldn't call Cave Story by Pixel the grandfather of the indie game as there has always been indie games overshadowed by the big names, but I feel that it was because of Cave Story, that indie games began receiving more attention from main stream gamers. What makes Cave Story special? Its graphics are a bit above minimalistic and the gameplay is similar to your typical Metroid/Castlevania game and the music has several great tunes. So the question is why did this game stand out amongst the others. I don't have the answer, but some say it's the story, others say it is the gameplay and another camp reply it is the music and of course, I am with that crowd.

     I have not played the re-releases of Cave Story so I cannot comment on the music so for the sake of this article I will be dealing with the original soundtrack.

     This soundtrack is something special. You would think that a reviewer should be harsh on a Game Boy Colour style soundtrack should be harsh on a soundtrack that took 5 years to compose, but that is what made it special. Daisuke Amaya did not do this game to break into the game business. He made it first for a college project and continued afterwards because he was bored. Cave Story is the product of a student who was bored and for that I give this game and soundtrack a high mark.

     So of the entire soundtrack, I have to ask what is my favourite song. There is obviously the fan favourite Moonsong (which DrumUltimA covered wonderfully on OCRemiX) that evokes a feeling of hope, grit and determination. As a player you have a choice; flee the island and let the enemy win, or brave the treacherous climb up and defeat the monster. Of course you know what you have to do as it seems Moonsong makes the decision. When you climb, the song becomes an anthem of determination and if you choose to flee, the song makes you feel like a failure. It is easy to hear why this song is so beloved.

     There is another song that I enjoy and so should everybody. If you played the game, then if you heard this song you knew it was time to face off against one of the greatest anti villains ever made. I am of course talking about Balrog, the lunch box/bar of soap shaped characters in the game. I have no clue why this character is so well loved. Perhaps it is his goofy nature or his clownish appearance but when you hear this song, you know that lunchbox/bar of soap demon is about to burst through the ground/ceiling/wall/door/whatever yelling Booya.

     Cave Story is a true gem of a classic. It took Pixel 5 years of his spare time to craft this game and if you haven't played it, you should. You should also grab the soundtrack on the Cave Story fansite and support it however you can. Supporting games like Cave Story, Outland, and Bastion, you are supporting the Indie Game circuit which is needed to keep gaming diverse.

     On Monday I gear up and Get Equipped to take on Wily and his army of evil robots. I am Daimo Mac and I am lost in the music.

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