I love Cave Story. This is a truly legendary and awesome game.
But instead of saying why it is so awesome as a game (lots of reviewers did that already) I’m going to talk about its importance for indie scene and for me personally.
First of all, indie games were not as good as some of them are now. Yeah, there were lots of gems but mostly they were short and simple flash games. Some of them were good. Some of them were great but none of them did what Cave Story has managed to do. Cave Story was comparable with AAA retro games. It is considered to be not only one of the best indie games of all time, but one of the best games ever. This game was one of the reasons indie scene began to grow so quickly. There were other important games but most consider Cave Story to be the most important. “Mona Lisa of indie games” as someone called it on Reddit.
But there’s another reason this games is great. This game is truly inspiring. It’s a clear example of what one person can do with enough skill and patience.
Daisuke “Pixel” Amaya, the creator of Cave Story, did it all himself which is truly amazing. Everything: programming, music, art, level design etc. And he did it in his free time, not working 8-10 hours a day as some of the indie developers do. He was studying in college and later working as a software developer. It took 5 years to finish this game. 5 years is a really long time and it’s incredible how much patience you should have to develop something for that long. Most people would abandon this project or make its scale smaller, but Pixel didn’t.
Most people think that indie games (even big ones) are made by one or two guys in their free time and with almost zero budget. It’s not true, however, for the bigger titles. Jonathan Blow, for example, spend $200,000 on Braid and you can find some other examples. Super Meat Boy and Fez developers were working on their games full-time. I can’t work on my game more than 2 or 3 hours a day, so Cave Story is a good example that you don’t necessarily have to work on your game 8-10 hours a day.
Cave Story got popular by itself. There was almost no marketing. Indie developers spend lots of time today trying to get as much people as possible to know about their game using social networks. But Pixel didn’t do it. He just quietly released his game and it was later discovered by lots of gamers getting its popularity because of its greatness. Cave Story was released in 2005. Just imagine! There was no Twitter, YouTube, Twitch these days. Facebook was just starting. It was very hard to get people to know your game. And it makes Cave Story’s achievement even more impressive.
For those who haven’t played it yet: I highly recommend you to try it. Original version is free and Cave Story+ version is on Steam for $10.
I love to listen to Cave Story OST when I’m developing my game. It’s very catchy and enjoyable but there’s one more thing: it feels me with motivation and hope that maybe someday my game will be recognized and loved by players. It will be one of the best things ever.