Not Spelunky: Cave Story+

There were more impressive images, but the joy of discovery means you should see them first for yourself

Every time a new indie bundle is released, anguished cries echo around the Great Hall of Comments that is carved in the dark obsidian which forms the foundations of Castle RPS. The reason? The inhabitants of that grand place are often the proud owners of every game included in the bundle due to their uncanny ability to be ahead of the curve. Therefore, it is with some trepidation that I bring the news that Cave Story is only now available on Steam, seven years after its original release, albeit in a ‘plus’ form. It’s a lovely game, taking a Metroidvania template, then adding oddness and pretty pixels. I think it was probably partly responsible for that particular graphical trend in yon indies.

Who hasn’t played it yet? Trailer with delightful music below.

For just less than six pounds, the Steam version provides the original game and a ‘HD’ remake, which is no doubt rather ‘LD’ compared to those LaserBluDiscs I’ve heard so much about. There’s also remastered music, alongside the original tracks, and new play modes, one of which seems to take place in an entirely new area. I don’t really care so much about the new gubbins but being reminded of the game’s existence is enough to make me want to play through it again.

Cave Story was originally freeware and that version still seems to exist and I haven’t seen anything to suggest it shouldn’t. It won’t be receiving the promised ‘future content’ though. You’ll also need an English translation unless your Japanese is a lot better than mine, which I’ve mostly picked up from horror films. I know how to scream and be murdered by ghosts in the language, but that’s about it.

I know I’ll probably spend six pounds on something less worthwhile today though, so I’d like to think of the freeware version as a demo and then return to the entertainment faucet that is Steam, cash in hand.

It’s one of my favourite platform adventures and for that reason I can’t imagine that anyone remains who hasn’t played and loved it. If you are in the former category, you’re in for a treat. If you’re in the latter, then good to you, sir. Good day.


  1. Zeewolf says:

    Oh? OH? Ohohohoho!!!

  2. BooleanBob says:

    Is this the same remastered version that got released on the Wii?

    Cave Story is… well, yeah. Amazing. A constant delight from beginning to end. This is more than enough excuse to replay it – maybe try and get a decent set of weapons for speed-running hell. What load-out do RPS commenters recommend for that?

    • Premium User Badge

      Adam Smith says:

      I think it has a couple of extras on top of that but I’m not 100% sure. It’s the same as the Mac app store version that’s been around for a short while I think..

      As for decent load-outs, I too shall hope for advice. It’s been a long time since I played.

    • BooleanBob says:

      Ok, so since nobody gave us a hand (boo!), I refreshed my memory over at the excellent Cave Story Tribute site. I would have thought the Spur would be a must-take item, as it does huge damage which is vital for taking down the Hell bosses as quickly as possible.

      But! The Snake, which I’ve never had in a playthrough before, sounds like it could be incredibly useful for taking out Cherub Archers in the Hell stage proper, as strategic shots through walls could eliminate pesky threats before they can retaliate. (Would also allow you to take the Machine Gun, which I guess could be very useful for traversing the tricky running/ jumping bits as it gives you kick-back and hover e: no, it wouldn’t. If I’m reading this right, you’d need two Polar Stars to trade to get both.)

      At the cost of having the Spur, though. Could the Blade make up the damage-per-second shortfall against the bosses? It’s hard to say..

      The Nemesis sounds too tricky to use effectively, powering down as you level it up. As for the Missile Launcher and Bubbler – it’s not so much whether they’re going to come in handy, as whether switching into them by accident is going to rob you of vital seconds during a speed run.

  3. Gnoupi says:

    Note that you can also download the original (with the English translation indicated in the article), directly on Desura: link to

  4. pkt-zer0 says:


    Okay, now get the remastered version of LaMulana on Steam as well.

    • Eclipse says:

      agreed, I’m much more interested in that one

    • MadTinkerer says:

      I want both!

    • shoptroll says:

      Didn’t Nicalis do the work on both? I’d be surprised if La-Mulana’s update didn’t get a PC version as well.

      Speaking of WiiWare ports…. Does anyone know if Gaijin is going to bring the rest of the Bit.Trip series to the PC?

  5. aerozol says:

    Yesss, opportunity to give this guy some money!
    Cave Story is definitely one of the best platformers I’ve ever played (yeah, I said it).

    Ugh, Steam forum comments are annoying already though. Yeah, you can get a version of it for free. No, that doesn’t entitle you to complain about the Steam price/ what’s in the Steam package at all- In fact less so, since you can generously play for free. *suppresses rage*

  6. Oozo says:

    HUZZAH! indeed.
    Didn’t see that coming, even though it does make a lot of sense, what with all the Wii and 3DS-remakes. And yes, like so many people already mentioned: A great opportunity to finally send some money to Mr Pixel, after not having had any opportunity to pay him other than giving him your love and spreading the word.

    I hope that you can combine freely the old and updated graphics and music – I like the new look, but I really grew fond of the minimalist glory of the original soundtrack. Edit: Ah, “mix&match” is confirmed on the Steam page. Nice.

    Aaand: Is it based on the Shi Tzu/Aeon Genesis-translation? No deal breaker, of course, but it seems like HUZZAH! is absent in the new translations, unfortunately…

    • Memphis-Ahn says:

      It’s an official translation from scratch, so sadly “Huzzah!” is now “Oh Yeah!” and “Litagano Motscoud” is “yrotS evaC”. But to be honest it won’t ruin it for you (unless you really liked the original translation).

    • Oozo says:

      Yeah, I just found out about that myself.
      Well, the game remains the same, so it won’t stop me from buying and playing it.

      Even though I, like Solar below and legions of fans, actually really liked the old translation and can’t quite figure out why they would not just have asked to use it. (Huzzah is much stronger than Oh Yeah, no doubt; much like the music that actually got worse on the Wii-release and seems to have been reworked faithfully with real improvements only for the 3DS version.)
      My warm feelings towards the Aeon Genesis-translation might also have something to do with the fact that I interviewed Shi Tzu once on the process of localizing the game, and he turned out to be a really nice person who worked his ass off in a frenzy in order to get it done in record time. So, the translation always made part of that whole “indie” spirit/aura.

      But hey, it’s still Cave Story, so hooray nevertheless.

    • Wulf says:

      B-bu-but… the huzzah was so iconic… !

      It seems like it was replaced just to “Westernise” the game by referentially comparing Balrog with Kool-Aid Man. I can’t think of any other reason they’d do that.

      I think I’ll stick with the old version. If nothing else, it’s classier.

      Though I would love to give Pixel some of my money, just not Nicalis in general.

      Decisions, decisions.

  7. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    I will buy it, even though I already played it and I know I don’t have time to play it again, at the moment. The guy who made it simply deserves to get money for that.

    Also, sooner or later I have to replay it anyway. I never managed to beat the secret end-boss. :P

  8. Kdansky says:

    Now I have to play it AGAIN. Which would be about the tenth time. I am just sad that the “secret” level at the end had (and probably still has) constant screen shaking, which makes it nauseating for me. Will buy it and consider it a late payment for all the fun I had with it.

  9. faelnor says:

    Anyone has this already, while having played the original? How is the music? I’ll buy it if the tracker music is the same, and I mean exactly the same, as the freeware.

  10. Shinryoma says:

    I could never finish the freeware version. It crashed at the same place in the game no matter what PC I used.

  11. Theoban says:

    Had to buy this, I’ve played the freeware original a fair few times (although never reached Hell), so it’s only fair I chuck them a few Euros as a thanks

    And now I can’t get the music from the village out of my head. Great.

    EDIT: Now you shall all suffer the same fate!:

  12. JackShandy says:

    So Castle Shotgun is built upon a million eternally screaming obsidian faces, then. I’ll add this to my notes.

    Also, huzzah! I’ve been waiting to play the HD version for ages.

  13. JB says:

    Who hasn’t played it yet? Me, that’s who.

  14. DickSocrates says:

    What percentage of the profit would Valve make on this being sold through Steam? Perhaps download the free version and donate to the creator directly through PayPal (or whatever), bypassing Steam plus paying out less but getting the creator the proper amount he deserves?

    I don’t know anything about Cave Story really, but I don’t see how a Metroid-type game could have additional content added to the core experience.

    By the way, I don’t think ‘Metroidvania’ is an appropriate term because SoTN was simply a Metroid-type, there’s no ‘Vania’ element that needs recognition in these titles. SoTN didn’t bring anything new, and in fact did many things present in Super Metroid far worse, such as the intensely anticlimactic gaining of new powers and abilities – you just find an icon randomly placed in a room, Metroid made finding those things special, like they were some ancient artifact, with their own epic fanfare. Just goes to show the power of the PlayStation generation, assuming everything they experienced was somehow definitive, when it really wasn’t.

    But I digress…

    • Kdansky says:

      Reminds me of Ocarina of Time. Many young Zelda fans consider it the best title in the series, when it completely pales compared to Link to the Past and Link’s Awakening.

    • BooleanBob says:

      Metroidvania is actually a bit of a mis-appellation wrt Cave Story. It’s more of a set of regular platformer levels with a wide-roaming over-world hub, like, hm – the Megaman Zero games.

      Though that’s not a perfect description either.

      Regarding your other points, have you watched the Egoraptor ‘Sequelitis’ videos? They kind of address what you’re riffing on here. And they’re pretty entertaining to boot.

    • James T says:

      Metroidvania is actually a bit of a mis-appellation wrt Cave Story. It’s more of a set of regular platformer levels with a wide-roaming over-world hub, like, hm – the Megaman Zero games.

      Though that’s not a perfect description either.

      The layout is reminiscent of Wonderboy III for the Master System.

  15. cytokindness says:

    Wait, four endings? Is there a new ending in the Cave Story Plus version?

  16. castorp says:

    Does anybody know whether you can play the Japanese version on Steam as well? To play the freeware version in Japanese was a bit of a hassle, a bilingual version on Steam would be nice.

    Mh, the Steam-page says it’s just English. So that’s that, no?

  17. Solar says:

    Got into this when in my ‘student-retro-freegamesontheinternets-notimetoplay-goingtoplayanyway’ phase. The joy of finding such an awesome, well made, dare I say deep, and enjoyable game for FREE blew my mind. Now in my ‘working-contemporary-paywhatyouwantunlesstoodesperatetowaitandpaythefullwhack-notimetoplay-goingtoplayanyway’ phase I can thoroughly recommend Cave Story.

    My understanding of the differences to the ‘free’ version with cave story+ is a little more mixed. There is new music and graphics (that can be switched to the original, that really is too good already) and a new ‘wind fortress’ level with new monsters. And 6 new game modes with more content to come. But perhaps the biggest change is that the translation is different. The free version had a sweet translation by Aeon Genesis with notable character Balrog shouting Huzzah! to much charactericfication (made that up) and joy. None to be seen according to the new internets appraisal of the Nicalis translation.

    That said, echoing others here, this is an opportunity to give something back to Pixel for such a great game.

    Thumbs up and stuck in a watermelon. Sweet.

  18. adonf says:

    I can’t see the video (it’s just a blank space, maybe a work proxy issue). Could we have a link to a non-embedded version please?

  19. Unaco says:

    Fools and their money etc.

  20. Wooly says:


  21. MichaelPalin says:

    Not sure why people call this metroidvania, it’s a pretty linear. In fact, I was very disappointed by that, I was loving it more or less until I freed that scientist.

  22. ChainsawCharlie says:

    Never actually finished this. Got the end boss, well the one of those at least. I hope this version doesn’t have those annoying chirpy chimes.

  23. li says:

    Any idea how much Pixel gets from the sales?
    Oh, I said somewhere that I am in love with RPS, but I have to add now that I’m also in love with Pixel (or is it Curly?) Sigh..
    What about an article or poll about the greatest minds of indie gaming?

  24. li says:

    Just trying CS+, it did revive our first encounter, let me tell! I just died 4 times in a row on the second spikes in the first cave (I assume because the different graphics change my appreciation slightly, I went through the original game probably ten times, even if I’ve never been able to beat the undead core or pass the final cave with the booster 2.0)
    On our first encounter, nearly four years ago, I almost gave up on these second spikes: I just thought this bizarre indie game is unfinished and has a pretty bad level design. Ah ah ah ah ah. A bad level design. I can’t realize I almost missed the game..

  25. TheGameSquid says:

    I do think it’s interesting to point out that if this is indeed based on the WiiWare “remake”, it’s probably best to not buy it. The Wii game cost 10€ in Europe, but it was unfortunately not a whole lot better than the original. The remastered music was worse, and the “HD” art was not worth it.

    This money is probably better spent on something else. It always seemed like a very, very cheap moneymaker to me, and I don’t Pixel is seeing a whole lot of the money. As far as I know, he was BARELY involved in the creation of the Wii version.

  26. Tams80 says:

    Having not played the game before; all I can say is that it is absolutely brilliantly and I love the music.

    For anyone having trouble with controls (i.e. can’t select at the menu), just double click ‘DoConfig’ and uncheck ‘Use Gamepad’.

  27. elnalter says:

    I’ve been playing the game for years, it’s only right that I buy the thing.