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Creator: CAVE
aka: Cave
"Presented by... Cave!"

CAVE Co., Ltd. is a video game company formed in 1994, one of four companies that arose from the ashes of the bankrupt Toaplan. It is perhaps well-known for its line of arcade Bullet Hell Shoot 'em Ups, such as the DonPachi and Mushihime-sama series.

In recent years, CAVE has taken to bringing its shooters, the majority of which have been Japan-only and often region-locked, overseas. Mushihime-sama Futari ver.1.5 for the Xbox 360 was released in November 2009 without region coding, making it the first home release of a CAVE shooter to be playable on an American or European console. CAVE went on to release the Xbox 360 port of Espgaluda II Black Label region-free (only for the standard edition; the Premium Edition is still region-locked) in February 2010, as well as an iPhone port in April with official Japan and U.S. releases. Deathsmiles was released in the U.S. in June, localized by Aksys Games, the same company behind the U.S. localizations of the BlazBlue series and Castle of Shikigami III. CAVE also has an English-language website, though its focus appears to be on iPhone and Android games, with little mention of console releases, let alone arcade ones. This is not to say consoles are being ignored, though; there is now a dual-language Xbox 360 port of Guwange available on the Xbox Live Marketplace.

More recently, European publisher Rising Star Games has taken to localising some of CAVE's Xbox 360 shoot 'em ups, so far including Death Smiles and DoDonPachi Resurrection as well as the recently announced Akai Katana. Their release of DoDonPachi Resurrection is also region-free for America Europe, meaning other non-Japanese fans can get in on the action.

You can catch CAVE on Facebook here, and on Twitter here, although both accounts have been inactive for quite some time now.

Not to be confused with an actual cave, which is under Beneath the Earth or Underground Level.


Games developed by Cave:

  • DonPachi (1995)
    • DoDonPachi (1997)
    • DoDonPachi Dai Ou Jou (2002)
      • DoDonPachi Dai Ou Jou Black Label (2002)
    • DoDonPachi Dai Fukkatsu (2008)
      • DoDonPachi Dai Fukkatsu Black Label (2010)
      • DoDonPachi Dai Fukkatsu (iPhone version) (2010)
    • DoDonPachi Sai Dai Ou Jou (2012)
  • Steep Slope Sliders (1997)
  • Dangun Feveron (1998)
  • Esp Ra De (1998)
  • Puzzle Uo Poko (1998)
    • Puzzle! Mushihime-tama (2005)
  • Guwange (1999)
  • Progear (2001)
  • Espgaluda (2003)
    • Espgaluda II (2005)
      • Espgaluda II Black Label (2010), released as a port and compilation for the Xbox 360
      • Espgaluda II (iPhone version) (2010)
  • Ketsui: Kizuna Jigoku Tachi (2003)
    • Ketsui Death Label (2008), a Boss Game for the Nintendo DS
    • Ketsui: Kizuna Jigoku Tachi EXTRA for Xbox 360 (2010)
  • Mushihime-sama (2004)
    • Mushihime-sama Futari (2006)
      • Mushihime-sama Futari Black Label (2007)
    • Mushihime-sama BUG PANIC! (2010)
  • Ibara (2005)
    • Ibara Kuro Black Label (2006)
    • Pink Sweets: Ibara Sorekara (2006)
  • Death Smiles (2007)
    • Deathsmiles Mega Black Label (2008)
    • Deathsmiles II (2009)
  • Muchi-Muchi Pork (2007)
  • Shin Megami Tensei IMAGINE (2007)
  • Princess Debut (2008)
  • Akai Katana (2010)
  • Mini 4WD Games (2011)
  • Shirotsuku: Castle Creator (2011 for Japanese mobile, 2012 for other platforms)
  • Ninē-Jump (2011)
  • Houkago No Kamishibaibu (2011)
  • Rokumeikan Mahjong (2011)
  • Angel Code (2011)
  • Instant Brain (2011)
  • Gun Blood Days (2012)


Licensed games:


Games developed by CAVE contain examples of:

  • 1-Up: There's the usual way of earning extra lives, though in many games you can also obtain a 1-up in the form of an item by fulfilling certain conditions.
  • Boss Game: Games with the "Death Label" designation. DoDonPachi Dai Ou Jou Death Label (which comes with the PS2 port) is this on steroids, while Ketsui Death Label is a DS game. Ketsui also has a mobile version that pits you against DOOM, with each defeat of it bringing it back with more firepower.
  • Bullet Hell: Some of the most iconic examples. It's also common to see extremely fast Bullet Hell as well. Notably, CAVE shooters are ranked very high in terms of preference by shoot 'em up players.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory: Switching between the two hardest difficulties will cost you a few lives as you [re-]learn the shot patterns.
    • Ketsui Death Label's... Death Label course also reverses the shot colors; all the previously red shots are now blue, and vice versa. Have fun with that.
  • Dolled-Up Installment: Mushihime-tama is actually a sequel to Uo Poko with the Mushihime-sama brand slapped on to it.
  • Doomy Dooms of Doom: Ketsui's True Final Boss is called "DOOM."
  • Easier Than Easy: No Bullet mode in DoDonPachi Dai Ou Jou, and the Novice supermode in recent CAVE ports.
  • Everything's Funkier with Disco: Dangun Feveron.
  • Excuse Plot: Though admittedly, CAVE plots are pretty good by shmup standards. Even the original DonPachi whacks you over the head by revealing the true nature of your training missions.
  • Fan Nickname: Players of Shin Megami Tensei: IMAGINE who aren't that fond of how CAVE has been messing around with the business model as well as the loot system refer to them as CAVEmen.
  • Follow the Leader: The Shoot 'em Up genre was already was overflowing with games by the time the 90's came around. It took the DonPachi series to have many bullets on the Opponents' sides rather than the Player's side to make the new subgenre that is Bullet Hell.
  • Fun with Acronyms: CAVE — Computer Art Visual Entertainment.
  • Guide Dang It: Many of the games' scoring systems; Espgaluda II has a learning curve that necessitated tutorials in its iPhone and Xbox 360 ports.
  • High Definition: The Xbox 360 ports of Mushihime-sama Futari, Espgaluda II, and Deathsmiles are done in sweet, sweet HD, a big leap from their native 384x240 resolution. Of course, you can always switch to "Arcade" mode for all three ports if you're a purist.
  • Hitbox Dissonance: Your hitbox is always either the cockpit, the center of the ship, or the center of the character's chest. Older games don't show the precise hit-box, which can cause issues for those who grew up with newer danmaku games.
  • Horizontal Scrolling Shooter: Progear, Akai Katana, and the Deathsmiles series.
  • Image Song: Becoming increasingly-common for their shmups, sung by Natsuko Naitou.
  • The Merch: Lots of it!
  • Nintendo Hard: Though to CAVE's credit, their games tend to have only 5 or 6 stages (as opposed to the 8-12 stages of other shooters), and while patterns do get very difficult (especially on harder difficulties and second loops), enemies almost never fire off cheap-shot attacks (think Raiden's sniper tanks). In short, the games are still very hard, but it's a "tough but fair" type of hard. Granted, this does not make them any less hard. For an idea of just how hard, in interviews on DoDonPachi Saidaioujou, chief designer Akira Wakabayashi said "I hope it takes at least 7 years to beat."
  • No Export for You: Previously in full force, especially for home ports, but now starting to give way on the Xbox 360 and iOS platforms.
  • Our Lawyers Advised This Trope / "Blind Idiot" Translation: "Violator and subject to severe penalties and will be prosecutedt to the full extent of the jam."
  • Pinball Scoring: Many of the newer games. Usually, the trick to a high score involves cancelling a screenful of bullets and converting them into point items that each yield thousands, if not millions, of points, allowing you to, within one or two stages, reach a score that would otherwise require getting to the last stage or a score or be outright impossible to get. In Espgaluda II, for instance, playing normally will probably get you the first extend (15 million points) on Stage 4 or 5, but a few tactics allow you to get it on Stage 1.
  • Scoring Points: Like many other Bullet Hell shooters, CAVE introduces a variety of complex scoring systems into their shooters.
  • Sdrawkcab Name: The corrupt Mega Corp. of Ketsui, EVAC, is "CAVE" spelled backwards.
  • Sequel First: See previous example.
  • Spiritual Successor: Ibara is said to be one to Raizing's "Bat" seriesnote .
  • Tank Goodness: To the point where the iOS version of Espgaluda II has the Achievement "One Less Tank in a Cave Game".
  • True Final Boss: Many games have one, either on the hardest difficulty or in a second loop. They are oftentimes significantly harder than the rest of the game, hardest difficulty not withstanding.
  • Vertical Scrolling Shooter: Most of their shooters, with Progear, Akai Katana, and the Deathsmiles series being exceptions.
  • Updated Re-release: The "[color] Label" re-releases.


Names to know in CAVE

  • Makoto Asada: Producer
  • Kenichi Takano: Producer
  • Tsuneki Ikeda: Programmer, most-well-known for scoring systems involving a lot of scoring items potentially on the screen at once, two different kinds of shots to force tradeoffs between survival and score, some means of bullet cancelling, and the final boss being immune or resistant to something that inexperienced players might use often.
  • "Joker" Junya Inoue: Artist and planner
  • Akira Wakabayashi: Visual designer
  • Shinobu Yagawa: Programmer, most-well-known for "rank" systems that encourage the player to purposely get killed, encouraging boss milking, medal chaining, and enemies who actually shoot at the player.
  • Masa-KING: Producer and front-man for CAVE's mobile division as well as part-time music composer (not to be confused with MASA-King, another music composer). He is willing to dress up in all sorts of costumes for the sake of CAVE.
  • Daisuke Matsumoto: Music composer and occasional voice actor
  • Natsuko Naitou: Music composer and singer for all image songs
  • Ryu Umemoto: Music composer who was also a personal friend of Makoto Asada. He passed away in 2011.

CapcomJapanese GamesCompile
Casady & GreeneVideo Game CompaniesCD Projekt RED

alternative title(s): Cave
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