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Video Game: Cave Story

Cave Story is a jumping-and-shooting action game.
Explore the caves until you reach the ending.
You can also save your game and continue from where you left off.
— Author's description of the game

"This description is so humble that it borders on parody. Play now, laugh later."
Studio Pixel Fan Page, on the above quote.

You wake up in a cave. You shoot your way out of the cave, so you can get to a village in another cave. Then you have to go to a different cave, followed by...

Well, it's aptly named. You might just come for the fun, Mega Man (Classic)-style gameplay, but the story is what you will end up staying for.

Cave Story is a freeware Metroidvania game by Daisuke Amaya, aka Studio Pixel. The game thrusts you into the action with no explanations, forcing you to figure out the plot by yourself as you go. There are robot soldiers, bunny people called Mimigas, and a Mad Scientist with a magic helmet and a Morally Ambiguous Doctorate trying to Take Over the World.

This game was created entirely by one man in his spare time. Daisuke Amaya wrote the scenario, drew the artwork and scenery, animated the sprites, designed all of the levels, composed all of the music, and programmed the entire game engine, all by himself over the course of five years.

Its breeding ground on the English-speaking Internet is here. There have been many ports. There's a Mac OS X port available here, and a Linux port available here. A port to the original Xbox also exists, as well as a PSP port, here (requires custom firmware).

It's on the Wii and DSI Ware with some extra features. There's a commercial version, Cave Story+, available in the Apple Mac Store, on Steam (for Windows, Macintosh, and Linux), on Desura (for Windows, Macintosh, and Linux), and (formerly) as part of Humble Indie Bundle 4 and 7; it has the Wii/DSI Ware features plus an extra level. Cave Story 3D is a remake for the 3DS with new content. Another port was confirmed for the 3DS eShop, which features 3D sprites and Cave Story+ extras, minus the HD graphics and sound. It was released on October 4, 2012.

Pixel has confirmed that a sequel is very, very likely.

This game provides examples of:

  • 2½D: The 3DS remake.
  • Accidental Pervert: Looking through Curly Brace's drawer in the Sand Zone will yield her panties.
  • Action Girl: Curly Brace. She's never incompetent in combat, especially if you're playing as her in Curly Story.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Misery's portrait is no longer green in the 3DS remake, much like her actual sprite.
  • Another Side, Another Story: In Cave Story+ Finding Curly's panties unlocks Curly Mode, a mode of gameplay that essentially asks the question of "What if the roles of Curly Brace and Quote were reversed?". the story goes pretty much the same way, the only differences being the fact that you get to see what Curly Brace would say if she was in Quote's shoes (as unlike Quote, she not a Silent Protagonist) while Quote remains silent apart for one brief moment (with Curly providing the rest of the dialog for him).
  • Aerith and Bob: Jack, King, Arthur, Igor, Sue, Booster, Kazuma, Momorin, Toroko, Chie, Kanpachi, Mahin, Sandaime, Megane...
  • Affably Evil: Balrog and Misery, especially in the best ending.
  • Air Aided Acrobatics: Toward the end of Bushlands/Grasstown, you're required to make these kinds of jumps after activating the necessary fans.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: When the island crashes, the ending cutscene features a slow pan over the different areas over the island accompanied by slow music, featuring all the creatures who were trying to kill you, as well as Curly's dead body in the Core. Some of the monsters, such as the Hoppers, are even cute. Nice job killing them all, hero.
  • Almost Dead Guy: The robot in the Core chamber.
  • All Myths Are True: You're told that a Mimiga that eats a red flower apparently dies shortly thereafter. What actually happens is worse. Much worse.
  • All There in the Manual: The names of many NPCs and enemies are only given in the end credits. The writing on the player character's hat (only mentioned once, by someone who doesn't understand what it says) is revealed in Pixel's artwork from the Beta version of the game. It doesn't seem to have an explanation. And that's all there is—in spite of many clues hinting at a large, interconnected backstory, Pixel has said of everything beyond what's shown in the game: "It is up to the player to decide".
  • Always Check The Map For Passages: In Cave Story 3D, the map is handily always shown on the bottom screen after you get it.
  • American Kirby Is Hardcore: The Japanese version of Cave Story 3D's artwork is a lot less "hardcore" and more cutsey than the North American version. (Unusually for this trope, the North American version came first).
  • Amnesiac Dissonance: Subverted! Quote and Curly think they're robots from a past war who helped kill off the Mimigas, and their amnesia has shifted their allegiance. However, when Curly's memory returns, she remembers that their mission was to destroy the Crown; and that they didn't kill any Mimigas.
  • Ambidextrous Sprite: Averted with Ballos, whose right eye is (almost) always red while his left eye is always white. Malco does fall for this trope, though.
  • And I Must Scream: The True Final Boss. Ballos. Lost control of his magic powers under torture, had to watch himself kill and destroy everything he loved, entombed inside a floating island for god-knows-how-long...
  • Another Side, Another Story: The WiiWare version lets you earn Curly Story, in which you play as Curly Brace and instead encounter Mr. Traveler throughout the game.
  • Anyone Can Die: If you haven't played the game yet, be warned that it's not as cute and innocent as it looks in the first place.
  • Apocalypse How: Never explicitly spelled out, but the first time berserk mimigas reached the surface, humans built a small army of robot soldiers to go to the island and kill everything there. Crazed mimigas under the control of the Doctor could easily lead to societal collapse, because he is smart and insane enough to wipe out civilization as we know it.
  • Arbitrary Gun Power
  • Arc Words: "The surface," "soldier from the surface," and "killer robots." Justified by the amnesia you have when the game begins.
  • Artifact of Doom: The Demon Crown.
  • Art Major Biology: As pointed out by the author of a walkthrough, the "Jellyfish Juice," which is presumably made of, well, jellyfish juice, is oddly kept in jars in treasure chests inside the jellyfish. Wouldn't things be interesting if people kept their blood and internal organs in jars in treasure chests inside of them?
  • Assassin Outclassin': Balrog clumsily attempts to ambush you about five times and hilariously fails every time. ...except for the time when it actually works, though Quote might've been a bit distracted by the sudden horrible deaths of two of his friends. It doesn't help that he tends to yell "HUZZAH!" whenever he jumps out at you.
  • Asteroids Monster: The Polishes in the Sand Zone, which split up into a whole bunch of smaller versions of themselves.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: All of the game's nastiest bosses also happen to only be vulnerable by shooting them in the face/mouth/eyes during a specific part of their attack pattern, always the part where they are spamming a ridiculous number of bullets onto the screen. Always.
  • Background Music Override: While getting Life Capsules and Missile upgrades are usually accompanied by a jingle, they are not in the Sacred Grounds. Running Hell plays there non stop until the fight with the Heavy Press, at which point Eyes of Flame kicks in.
  • Badass: Quite a few characters (specifics below), but the most noticeable being King because he takes out Balrog, a recurring midboss that's relatively tough against Quote, with a single hit in a Crowning Moment of Awesome.
    • After he dies, he still kicks plenty of ass. If you level up his Blade weapon to level 3, Quote instead throws King's ghost at enemies while he slashes away at everything.
    • Back-to-Back Badasses: Curly gets strapped to your back when raiding the Brutal Bonus Level.
    • Badass Adorable: "Mr. Traveler" and Curly. Due to the art style, nearly all the badasses are like this, but those two really take the cake.
      • Monster X could qualify for this trope, once you see its defeated form.
  • Bait-and-Switch Boss: After Malco is reactivated, he declares you a threat and then is stomped into the ground by Balrog. This is made even more amusing by the fact that the music that normally would indicate a boss fight starts when Malco appears, and then abruptly stops.
    • Misery is subject to this a LOT of times, but instead of her being upstaged, she just can't be bothered to fight you. Misery is very resourceful, and loves using resources on-hand to kill you. This includes powering-up Balrog to fight you, provoking a gigantic monster from beneath the sand, and simply throwing you into the Labyrinth, which you spend a third of the game trying to escape. It's cathartic when you finally get to take her on.
  • Bare Your Midriff: Curly.
  • Baleful Polymorph: Sue and Itoh, humans whom Misery transformed into Mimiga.
  • Ballistic Bone: Some skull-type enemies shoot them. As well, you fight the True Final Boss of the game on a floor made of bones. In the first two parts of the fight, he frequently performs a Ground Pound which sends out a shock wave of bones capable of hurting you. In the third part of the fight, he drops flaming skulls on you.
  • Battle Couple: Curly and Quote
  • Battle Cry: Huzzah!
    • Also a Catchphrase.
      • Which was changed into "Oh yeah!" in the Cave Story + version.
  • Belly of the Whale: The end of the Sand Zone. You can only watch, horrified, as Toroko and King are killed in front of you, and are then effortlessly defeated and cast into the Labyrinth by Misery.
  • Bewitched Amphibians: Misery turns Balrog into a giant frog for a boss battle.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Huzzah! It's Balrog.
    • Also averted in the Sand Zone: King arrives too late to save Toroko - and so do you.
  • Big Entrance: In Balrog's first appearance, there's an ominous pounding on a door, then he smashes down the door and the wall around it, shouting (depending on the translation) either "Huzzah!" or "Oh yeah!"
  • Big Ol' Eyebrows: Santa sports them in the high-resolution graphics.
  • Black Bead Eyes
  • Bleak Level: Mimiga Village, specifically when you return there after escaping the Labyrinth.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: Just one line, actually, in an otherwise superb translation. The secret password in the Plantation is Litagano Motscoud. Pretty random, right? Well, actually, in Japanese, it's the reverse of the game's name: "Doukutsu Monogatari" "Do-U-Ku-Tsu-Mo-No-Ga-Ta-Ri" becomes "Ri-Ta-Ga-No-Mo-Tsu-Ku-U-Do". The translator missed the intended meaning and just transliterated it as best he could. It's not really that bad, considering it's not really supposed to mean anything, being a password.
    • The plus version changed it to yrotS evaC.
    • "It's running!"
  • Blown Across the Room: King in the Sand Zone, when he attempts to kill the Doctor.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Balrog. Huzzah!
  • Bonus Boss: Wind Fortress has G-CLONE, a mysterious machine that makes Curly clones.
    • There's also Ma Pignon and the Red Demon, although they have to be fought in order to get to the real final level, and the Sisters, who guard a missile upgrade in the Egg Corridor?.
  • Bonus Feature Failure: Curly mode in the WiiWare/Steam version simply changes some dialogue and the places of the main character and Curly, and Sanctuary Time Attack denies you the use of missiles (although it lets you use both the blade and the Nemesis, which is more than a fair trade in B3).
  • Boss Arena Recovery: Due to how the game's weapon energy system worksnote , most Cave Story bosses are Mook Makers, FlunkyBosses or have item-dropping projectiles to allow you taking the drops.
  • Boss Bonanza:
    • The endgame has you fight against Misery, The Doctor and his superpowered form, and then, the Undead Core, Possessed Sue and Possessed Misery at the same time, without any kind of checkpoint and limited ways to heal yourself (namely, Mook drops, help from a certain purple Mimiga, and the Too Awesome to Use instant-heal item which you'll want to save for the Brutal Bonus Level, if you're going there).
    • After the endgame, if you have the Booster 2.0 and Iron Bond in your inventory, you can enter the Prefab House before leaving the island to find the entrance to the Brutal Bonus Level. At the end, you fight two more bosses in a True Final Boss Bonanza: The Heavy Press and Ballos. The Heavy Press has one form and will kill you in one hit if you do not get to the side of the room after defeating it. Ballos has three health bars. And before you can even damage the third health bar, you need to attack eight little rock things surrounding him. That makes for a total of five parts to the fight. Oh, and healing? The Heavy Press infinitely spawns Mooks so you can heal, but said Mooks are Goddamned Butes. Plus, you need to deal with the Rollings. Then, the healing you get in between the two bosses is a Luck-Based Mission. Healing during Ballos is a borderline Suicide Mission. Dying will send you back to the nearest used save point, way back at the very entrance. Have fun.
  • Boss Corridor: The outdoor bridge to Ballos' room.
  • Boss Rush: The Useful Notes/Wiiware version and Cave Story+ has a Boss Rush as an unlockable.
  • Brutal Bonus Level: Hidden Last Cave and the Sacred Grounds in the main game, the Nemesis Challenge and Wind Fortress in the Steam and 3DS eShop versions. If you want practice on the first two, you can play Easy Mode provided you're not on the original and practice for when you do them for real. If you're playing the 3DS eShop version, you can do this for the other two, but your best time is only saved on Classic/Normal.
  • Bullfight Boss: Balrog is a ridiculously weak version, Monster X quite a threatening one.
    • The Muscle Doctor as well.
  • But Thou Must: Subverted. If you save Curly, then go to the mushroom to get his cure for her amnesia, he will say, "But in reality, you don't really want this, right?" Upon answering no, he'll say, "You really want it that bad?" Answer yes, and he says, "Are you sure you want it?" Answer yes, and he says, "But in reality, you don't really want this, right?" Answer no, and he'll finally give the Mushroom badge. It really isn't what you want, although you still have to get it to get what you do want.
    • Averted during the very first boss fight. Balrog asks if you want to fight him with that "pea shooter of yours". If you say no, he'll leave.
    • Also played straight at a couple points.
  • Cameo: Ironhead, Ikachan, and the Porcupine Fish are characters from an earlier Pixel game.
    • Artwork of the Prinnies has been released for the 3DS version, hinting in their inclusion. Which, given Nippon Ichi, this is to be expected.
      • Subverted in that they didn't, although there is a Prinny hat.
    • The protagonist, and Curly Brace themselves cameo as fully-playable classes (if on opposing teams) in Gang Garrison 2.
  • Captain Ersatz: Some enemies are shout-outs to classic videogames. For example, Sandcrocs appeared in a Mega Man (Classic) game, and enemies looking like Basil were found in the Metroid series. Also, the Muscle Doctor looks a lot like the Cyclops summon from Final Fantasy Tactics.
  • Cast of Snowflakes: Applies to the entire named cast, and quite a few unnamed characters as well. To the talk and game sprites.
  • Catch Phrase: Balrog's "Huzzah!", which got changed to a Kool-Aid Man-style "OH YEAH!" in the official translation, and can be either/or in the Cave Story+ version due to a mod that returns the original Fan Translation. In the original Japanese, it's just "Heeyyyy!"
  • Cats Are Mean: Monster X's true form.
  • Cephalothorax: Critters and Balrog.
  • Chain Reaction Destruction: Bosses are likely to go down with that style.
  • Character Portrait: Every major character has one. Also used if there's more than two NPCs talking.
  • Charged Attack: The Spur.
  • Checkpoint Starvation: The Sacred Grounds area wouldn't be half as frustrating if it weren't for this.
  • Climax Boss: The Core.
  • Colony Drop: What Ballos does in his final attempt to kill himself and stop his out of control magic. In the good ending, Curly and Quote kill him and stop the island.
  • Cool Bike: A rather nifty hoverbike can be found in the Grasslands. At least, until Kazuma takes a crack at riding it...
  • Credits Montage: Done it in reverse chronological order — and it's a bit longer if you beat the Bonus Boss.
  • Crosshair Aware: One of the True Final Boss's attacks.
  • Cutscenes: Probably the only thing you'll hate about this game is the fact that these are unskippable and you'll have to watch them every time you retry a boss battle. Though at least the Scrolling Text speeds up a bit on subsequent viewings or if you hold down the Jump or Fire button.
  • Cutscene Incompetence: "KILLER ROBOT!"
    • The player character standing right there, with a weapon in hand, while the first boss punches Sue's lights out.
  • Cut Song: "Wind Fortress", "People of the Root", "Plant (B)", and "Pier Walk". There are also beta versions of at least 10 songs.
    • There's also the midi versions of all the songs in the Wii version. YMMV on whether they sound better than the final instrumented versions, but according to the composer for the remixes, the final versions sound little like he intended. Also includes some tracks that didn't make it to the final version, such as a version of "Plantation" that uses the main theme in a style more similar to "Plant."
    • In later rereleases, Wind Fortress has been readded as a new Challenge area. It's harder than the Sacred Grounds.
  • Cute 'em Up: The Nemesis fires rubber duckies. It's a wonder they don't heal the enemy.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory:
    • In most PC games, pressing the Escape key will pause the game and bring up a save/load/quit menu or somesuch, and pressing Escape again will close the menu and send you back to the game. In Cave Story, pressing Escape brings up the menu — and pressing Escape again quits the program without confirmation.
      • Averted in Cave Story Plus, where you would be prompted to go to the main menu instead of quitting the game (and "No" is highlighted by default).
    • Also, if you upgrade from the DSi ware version to the 3DS version, the programmers switched the jump and fire button for no apparent reason.
      • Averted in the 3DS eShop version, where there's an option to unflip the jump and fire buttons.
    • Used to pressing up to enter doors? Or a non-directional button to speak or interact? Too bad. Pressing down serves both those actions in this game. Somewhat justified in that during a shootout around scripted objects, you may have to aim up to shoot enemies, and the last thing you'd want is to accidentally interact with them and screw up your flow. Especially around doors, as entering them will respawn all enemies.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Ballos.
  • Darkest Hour: The bit between the Iron Head fight and the Outer Wall. All your allies are either dead, kidnapped, injured and lost, or telling you that it's hopeless to keep fighting and that you should run away. The unexplained destruction of the Egg Corridor (and the awesome music accompanying it) certainly reinforces this.
  • Dark Reprise: Compare the tempo and drumline of "Mischevious Robot" to that of "Scorching Back".
  • Dark Skinned Greenhead: Sue as a human, as are all the Sakamotos. The Doctor falls under this one, too.
  • Death Seeker: Ballos.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: For Toroko, Curly Brace, and eventually Balrog.
  • Degraded Boss: Igor. He appears as a regular enemy at the Balcony. He's even more powerful than before, shooting more energy balls at once and having more HP. However he never uses his punch attack, and you have more powerful weapons and more HP.
  • Desert Skull: Sand Zone is full of bones... including animated ones.
  • Development Gag: In the Useful Notes/Wiiware version's Halloween Mode, the zombie sprite of the protagonist looks a lot like the blue-outfitted sprite from the Beta version of the game.
  • Destructible Projectiles: Many projectiles can be shot and drop hearts, energy crystals or ammo, allowing Boss Arena Recovery.
  • Pixel Thinks Of Everything:
    • If you beat the game with Mr. Little still in your inventory, he interjects "...Aren't you forgetting something?!" after the last cutscene.
    • It is possible to reach the final bosses and beat the game still wearing the Mimiga Mask. The end credits illustrations and pre-boss dialogue are even changed to reflect this. Overlaps Self-Imposed Challenge since it requires beating the last level and final boss without your jetpack.
    • If you backtrack to earlier zones or proceed to Final Cave wearing the Mimiga Mask, you won't ever get stuck because you can traverse every zone without using the Booster except for Final Cave (Hidden) and Sacred Grounds.
    • In the 3DS version, the description for a Dummied Out item is "You're not supposed to have this. How'd you get it?"
    • If you try to take the sprinkler from the Mimiga Village (in order to deliver it to Momorin), you'll get the message "It's fixed firmly to the ground!".
  • Difficulty Spike: Things up to Plantation are relatively easy with save and refill points scattered around. However, Last Cave, especially if you're going for the best ending, ramps up the difficulty a lot. You do get a little breather at the Balcony with its one save and healing point, before having to fight three bosses in a row with essentially no refills in between. This is not counting the Brutal Bonus Level and four/five-stage True Final Boss that await you if you want to actually see the best ending....
  • Dirty Coward: Kazuma. After spending the whole game generally being useless, he plans on abandoning his captured sister and missing mother to save his own skin. Agreeing to join him results in the game's worst ending
  • Disk One Nuke: If you remember a certain fireplace at the beginning of the game, you can acquire the Bubbler quite early, and it is really useful all the way up to the endgame where you would obtain it if you didn't pay enough attention.
  • Distressed Damsel: Sue, more than once.
  • Down the Drain: Waterway.
  • Dracolich: The eventual fate of some of the dragons in the Egg Corridor.
  • Dual Boss: The Sisters. And a trio boss, Undead Core, with Misery and Sue
  • Dummied Out:
    • There's a picture of Sue as a human included among the sprites that show up when a character is speaking. Since Sue doesn't turn back into a human until the end credits, the sprite goes unused.
    • One can also find the Beast Fang hidden under the Heart Container in the plantation area of Mimiga Town.
  • Dying as Yourself: As if taking down Mimigas under the Red Flower's influence wasn't depressing enough, scripted battles with frenzied Mimigas (like Igor and Toroko) end with them reverting to their normal selves right before expiring.
  • Easter Egg: An astounding number of them.
  • Easy Levels, Hard Bosses: Bizarrely enough, on Hard Mode (3 HP, No Missiles), this is what happens. Most of the levels don't get as much of a difficulty increase as the bosses, especially the Core. Formerly easy bosses such as some of the Balrog fights, Puu/Pooh Black, and the Heavy Press will destroy you mercilessly. The Sacred Grounds is the big exception.
  • Easy-Mode Mockery: Picking easy mode will make the player character wear a yellow costume (As opposed to the normal Red), when this costume was first announced many Fans cried out a lot, when they did not realize that there were various difficulty modes for the game.
    • On the flip side of Hard Mode Badassery, picking Hard mode turns the player character into Male Curly Brace, AKA Beta Blue Mr. Traveller. This design is similar to the design used in the beta version of Cave Story (Only differences are a lighter blue and Blond Hair with tan skin opposed to black hair and white skin) when the player character was named Curly Brace of said design, however the name Curly Brace was transferred into the final female version of Curly Brace.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: The path to the happy ending is far more hazardous than the path to the bittersweet one. If you're playing blind, you will not get the good ending on your first try unless you're clairvoyant because of some Guide Dang It moments.
  • Emergency Energy Tank: The Life Pot. You only get two over the whole game (unless you backtrack) so you better make good use of them.
  • Empathic Weapon: The Blade, at its maximum level, summons King's spirit who slices and dices up anything near whatever it hits first.
  • Energy Ball: Well, they can be fired both by you and enemies.
  • Equipment-Based Progression: The game has you collect various guns, each one leveling up and down individually as you collect XP triangles and take damage.
  • Equipment Upgrade: In addition to each weapon being an Evolving Weapon, there's a sidequest which allows the player to upgrade the Polar Star into a powerful charging weapon with infinite ammo (assuming they didn't trade it away).
  • Essence Drop: When defeated, enemies drop hearts that refill your health, energy crystals that increase your weapon power, or missile ammunition.
  • Event Flag: Jellies? Never seen 'em before, but now that you mention it, they're right out the door!
  • Evil Albino: Misery.
  • Evolving Weapon: Every weapon (except the Spur) changes slightly as it collects experience points, especially the Blade and the Bubbler.
  • Eyes Always Shut: Kazuma.
    • Sky Dragon as well.
  • Faux Action Girl: Sue. She's convinced that she's a fighter, and claims to never have lost in a fight with her brother (which isn't saying much). In the first (of three) times that you have to rescue her, she grossly overestimates her fighting abilities, and grossly underestimates those of a frenzied Mimiga four times her size. In a fist fight. Then she gets rather pissed if you admit that you rescued her.
  • Fetch Quest: Several, including puppies.
  • Final Boss: Misery, The Doctor, and the Undead Core. See also True Final Boss below.
  • Fireballs: You can fire them, too.
  • Fission Mailed: After the fight against the first Load-Bearing Boss, the room is flooded, leaving you trapped underwater with your Air Meter ticking down to zero. The player is immediately revealed to have gotten Curly's air bubble, thus he is okay.
  • Flash of Pain
  • Flawless Victory: Defeating Ironhead, the Waterway boss, without taking any damage awards the Alien Badge, which does nothing besides look cool in your inventory.
  • Flunky Boss: Many, many boss battles are of this type, primarily because your weapons lose experience points each time you take damage; destroy the flunkies, collect experience crystals, keep your weapons up to level.
    • The battle with the Undead Core actually has two levels of this, as one of the flunkies is itself a Mook Maker. This is because, with the weapon level system, the game works better if there is almost always something you can shoot to get power crystals back if you get hurt. Most of the bosses which don't actually summon minions have projectiles which can be shot and drop powerups anyway.
    • Special mention goes to G-CLONE from the Secret Level, Wind Fortress, in Cave Story Plus. The battle consists of a stationary computer that does nothing but sporadically shoot bullets and send naked Curly clones to do most of its dirty work. You have to focus on attacking the computer to do damage.
    • The Heavy Press has, in addition to regular enemies, two Invincible Minor Minions fighting with it.
  • Floating Continent: The cave you wake up in at the beginning of the game is part of an interconnected series of caves inside a floating island — the setting for the adventure.
    • The game actually does a fairly good job of hiding the fact that the island's floating for quite some time. It's easy to assume that you're in an underground network of caves until the nature of the island is spelled out for you.
  • Floating in a Bubble: Misery's (and the Doctor's) favoured method of capturing and transporting people.
  • Foe-Tossing Charge: Mimigas (especially the ones mutated by the demon flowers) and Balrog love to do this.
  • Foreshadowing: After Grasstown/Bushlands, if you find Jack and talk to him, he'll mention why Arthur was a hero: He drove away a demon that was eating Mimiga, making him a true hero. If you're on the path to the True Ending, you'll have to finish what Arthur started and defeat it in the Hidden Final/Last Cave, being a true hero yourself. As the credits say, true heroes fight him, and both you and Arthur are/were.
  • Frickin' Laser Beams: The Spur, and only when it is fired between Level 2 and 3. Firing it with a MAX charge unleashes a blast of Wave Motion Gun proportions.
  • Friendship Trinket: Curly Brace gives the protagonist an iron bond after restoring her memories as a sign of friendship.
    • The silver locket you find early on was a gift from Sue to Toroko for Toroko's kindness to her.
  • From Bad to Worse: Most of the plot does this, even the opening screen.
  • Fungus Humongous: Mimiga Graveyard.
  • Funny Animal: The Mimigas.
  • Furry Fandom: Oddly enough, most of the "art" out there is of Sue or a certain "purple rabbit".
  • Game Mod: The original PC freeware version became (somewhat) easy to mod once the tools were developed. Also, Curly Mode in the Wii version is based off a well-known sprite hack for the PC version.
  • Gameplay Ally Immortality: When you tag-team with Curly deep in the Labyrinth, Curly takes no damage whatsoever from enemies or spikes. The same also applies in the Brutal Bonus Level, with Curly strapped to the player's back.
  • The Ghost: If you don't get the Booster 2.0, you only get an optional reference to the Red Demon/Ogre and, consequentially, Ballos.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: In Cave Story+, one of the achievements is called "Doggy Style", a type of sexual intercourse. The achievement's about beating a certain boss while carrying one of Jenka's puppies.
    • Sleeping in Chaco's bed results in a very thinly disguised one-night stand.
  • Giant Mook: Giant Pingon, Basu (Giant beetle), Large Power critter and Kulala (Giant Jellyfish).
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: Pooh Black, Monster X, Ironhead, and Heavy Press. Averted with the Red Demon/Ogre, who IS foreshadowed if you can find a certain NPC.
  • Glass Cannon: King. He defeats Balrog in a single slash, but gets defeated himself with a single attack and bleeds out several minutes later. Considering that Misery's thunder blasted him across the room you'd expect him to be at least very screwed. This is reflected in the weapon you get from him, which contains his soul. At level 3, it is very powerful but any hit will immediately drop it back down to level 2.
  • Graphics-Induced Super-Deformed: Somewhat exacerbated by the color scheme of the protagonist's head, which, to the untrained eye, may appear as a sideburn, an eye, and a nose, rather than two eyes and part of an antenna, since the character appears in semi-profile.
    • This is even preserved with the 3D models of the 3DS remake.
  • Great Offscreen War
  • Green Hill Zone: Grasstown.
  • Guest Star Party Member: Curly accompanies you like an Attack Drone throughout Labyrinth M. If you save her life and restore her memory, she will rejoin you in Sacred Ground.
  • Guide Dang It: You will not get the best ending on your first playthrough. Accept this fact and enjoy the game.
    • In short: go to the Balcony, go to the bookshelf in the Prefab Building, and smack your forehead.
    • The Spur. Even if you DID reject the various replacements to the Polar Star, by the time you can access the area again, you may have either forgotten or not realized you could get back to that first area again.
    • The Curly sidequest. Just to get the item that starts it, you have to ignore a very attention grabbing event that gives you an important item early right before a boss battlenote , and then notice another item in an out-of-the-way place. Still, that looks positively tame compared to then having to stop into a small save cabin with her on your back, attempting to sleep in the bed, reading the book on the shelf after having read the computer screen — this being the only time a bookshelf is anything more than ancillary exposition, so you may not even know it's possible to do that — then either saving or leaving and coming back to let her sleep it off so you can take her with you, with no indication that she actually pulled through; even then, at the end of the waterway, she apparently dies anyway, in a scene that's identical whether you drained her or not. You then have to find the hidden room where she is, remember the then-unreachable room way back at the beginning, realize that you have to accept the offer of something you don't actually want, and then read its description before you leave. It takes a guide or clairvoyance to realize you're still in it after the waterway, and that or a lot of patience to finish the last segment.
    • The True Final Boss's 2nd Form, for a lot of people.
  • Hate Plague: Ballos
  • Hat of Power: The Demon Crown, the source of the Doctor's power.
  • Head Pet: The Fetch Quest to collect Jenka's dogs. "Puppyhat!"
  • Healing Checkpoint: Most save points are accompanied by life refills or beds.
  • Heartbeat Soundtrack: The song "Pulse".
  • Heart Container: Although could be changed to Energy Tank, considering its appearance and the awesome Metroid-style riff that plays when you pick it up.
  • Heel-Face Turn: Balrog, and Misery as well. Balrog reveals that she was the one who sent him to rescue you after you defeat Ballos.
  • Heli Critter: Flying Critters.
  • Heroic Albino: Curly Brace and the protagonist. Probably due to their robotic nature. Maintained in the official art, often ignored in fanart.
    • The Official version Palette Swaps the protagonist if you play a difficulty level other than Original — and in the hardest mode, he's tan-skinned and blond-haired. Curly is unaffected.
  • Heroic Mime: From context, it can be induced that the protagonist is speaking, but the player isn't privy to most of his lines.
    • And in Curly Story mode, in the scene where the two meet, he is STILL a heroic mime, while Curly says what our hero presumably said originally. Except when you force-feed him the Ma Pignon — and it's ONE line.
      Quote: Curly? It's me! Quote!
  • Heroic Sacrifice: After the fight with the Core, you drown. Curly gives you her oxygen tank to save you, drowning in your place. You do have a chance to save her, however. It's a remarkably sad moment if you fail to save her, and as you leave the room where she lies the door clangs ominously shut behind, while some of the game's saddest music plays.
  • He Was Right There All Along: Monster X and the Core are completely inert and harmless until the boss music kicks in.
  • Holiday Mode: Playing on Christmas or Halloween in the Wii version will change your sprite.
    • The Holiday Mode for the PC versions is frankly insane. Nearly every asset in the game is altered, including the music, sprites, backgrounds, and enemies.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: "Humans can be terrible creatures indeed..." Just to make it clear it was the jealousy of a king over Ballos that made him go under prison and, according the game, a very, very, cruel torture leading him to insanity and making his magic go crazy, too.
    • On the other hand, it's also very likely that Ballos wasn't quite as innocent as the legend claimed, either. According to the Wii/Steam version, Ballos deliberately let his power grow wild and didn't fear any retribution towards his actions, and it was his own selfishness that resulted in this. He also implies that thanks to his actions, his powers murdered his family.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: Ballos.
  • I'll Kill You!: What King vows to the Doctor, just after finding that Toroko has been force-fed red flowers... Also what Ballos says before fighting you.
    Ballos Long, long have I waited... Waited for the one who would finally subdue my magic's fury. Now, kill me! Or I — shall kill YOU!!
  • Impossible Item Drop: Monsters of all kind tend to drop experience crystals, floating hearts and missiles.
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Balrog, again.
    "Are YOU even listening to ME?"
  • Incoming Ham: Everytime Balrog appe- HUZZAH! (or "OH YEAH!" on the Wiiware/Steam version)
  • Inexplicable Treasure Chests: There are treasure chests scattered all over the place, including inside a few monsters. Why they aren't opened already, is up to imagination.
  • Infant Immortality: The Mimiga children fighting you alongside Curly can't be killed or permanently disabled; shots only stun them for a period of time. Unfortunately, Toroko was out of such luck, sadly foreshadowed by the death of Igor.
    • It's foreshadowed earlier than that, when you first meet Toroko in the shack. After she freaks out, you have to shoot her to calm her down.
    • Sue in the fight against the Undead Core. You can knock her down with sustained fire, and knock her out with enough damage, but she gets back up after the fight ends.
  • Infinity+1 Sword: The Spur.
  • Informed Ability: Supposedly, the Demon Crown is a magical artifact so powerful that entire armies have to be used to defeat any given wearer of it. The only powers we see the Doctor using with it in-game are teleportation and, er, floating. Also lasers/fireballs later on, but since he didn't use those until he extracted the Red Crystal, they probably weren't because of the crown.
  • Interface Spoiler: Double-subverted. The number of puppies you bring back is one more than the number that would fit between Jenka and the door.
  • Invincible Minor Minion: Basil and Rolling.
  • It Amused Me: Presumably the reason why Misery also banished Balrog to the Labyrinth.
  • Item Amplifier: The machine gun has limited ammo, but automatically replenishes itself. The Turbocharge item increases the rate at which this ammo replenishes.
  • I Was Beaten By A Girl: Ma Pignon's main regret if you beat him as Curly.
  • Jump Physics: Really weird ones at that, but they're wonderfully intuitive. You more glide than jump. Which is what prevents some new players that are used to NES-style platformers from even leaving the first cave.
  • Kaizo Trap: The Heavy Press boss in the final zone will fall through the floor after it's defeated. Better not be in the way when it does. It's fairly obvious if you've met a similar fate from its smaller brethren.
    • Minor example: contact with Puu Black still damages you after it's defeated.
  • Killer Rabbit: Mimigas dosed with the red flowers.
  • Kill the Cutie: Toroko, after she is fed a red flower. An achievement on the Steam version has Toroko put YOU in the scrap, by weakly flailing a stick...
  • Kill 'em All: By the end of the regular ending there are more dead supporting characters than live ones, not counting the ones presumed dead after the island crashes.
  • King Mook: The Heavy Press.
  • Kleptomaniac Hero: At the beginning with the Polar Star and later with the Bubbler, and later on with Curly's panties.
  • Leitmotif: Balrog, the Doctor and Ballos have them.
  • Lethal Joke Weapon: The Nemesis. On its lowest power level, it fires devastating bolts at very high speed. But as it gets powered up, it gets weaker! On its highest setting? It shoots rubber duckies. To add insult to injury, to get it you have to trade a powerful weapon that has sentimental value to the player character. On the other hand, it's quite powerful as long as you DON'T power it up. Gets quite tricky when one crystal is enough to take it up a level and you're paying attention to things other than the swarms of little bouncing triangles. Which is all the time.
    • The Bubbler. It shoots bubbles, producing four shots at 1 or 2 damage each. Level two: machine gun, a bit slower than the one you get later in game. But on level three, the Bubbles form a shield, and when they burst, they shoot projectiles that can be fired all at once, or be spammed as a machine-gun, all in the direction you're facing. And, when you stop firing and charge the Bubbler long enough, all the bullets floating around you turn slowly fire automatically, machine gun-style, but with different heights and formations of bullets to allow players to hit enemies from lower or higher levels.
  • Let's Meet the Meat: Ma Pignon doesn't want to be eaten. Thankfully, he's a complete prick about it, so most won't feel too bad about feeding him to Curly.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: Curly assumes you're there to kill the Mimigas, and attacks you before you have a chance to explain yourself.
  • Level Drain: Happens, twice, on the path to 100% Completion: "You feel a black wind blow through you. All weapons dropped to Level 1!" Though you're almost guaranteed to have at least one weapon — the Spur, the Nemesis, or the Blade — that still deals out good damage at Level 1. Arguably, the de-leveling in Sacred Grounds is an equalizer, so that your chance of success isn't affected by how well you fared in the preceding boss fight.
  • Level-Map Display: There's a map item that can be acquired early and can be handy as it shows all hidden passages.
  • Lift of Doom: Two are present in the Labyrinth: the first requires utilization of the hovering Jump Physics to avoid either death by spikes or death by falling platform; the second, arguably simpler lift comes immediately after, and only needs to be tricked into rising without you in its path.
    • Also present when ascending to the Final Cave, though in a much more deadly fashion: watch out for those Presses!
  • Like a Badass out of Hell: Inversion. First you fight your way through Hell/The Sacred Grounds, then once you kill Ballos, Balrog performs a double inversion by falling/smashing his way into hell to get to you, then flies you and Curly out of there. Honestly, a Deus ex Machina like that was preferable to another escape sequence after fighting Wizard Satan.
  • Load-Bearing Boss: The Core. When it is almost completely defeated, the villains swoop in and inform you that it's the only thing keeping the island airborne; they then zombify the Core to save the island. Near the end of the game, when the Doctor possesses the Undead Core, you're forced to destroy it for good, and the island begins falling. Then Ballos inverts this; since Ballos was the one pulling the island down, defeating him saves the island from destruction.
  • Locked Out of the Fight: On two separate occasions, Curly Brace gets knocked out just before a boss fight. (On the second occasion, after a short while she does get up and help you.)
  • Long Song, Short Scene: "White", a scrapped theme for King which can only be unlocked by beating Sacred Grounds in three minutes. "Toroko's Theme" as well, but not to as great an extent. note 
  • Lost Forever: Aside from the Mutually Exclusive Powerups, there are several items that you only ever get one chance to collect. Most of them (such as the Tow Rope) are necessary only to get the best ending, while others (such as Chaco's lipstick and the Alien Badge) don't do anything and seem to only be there for the sake of 100% Completion. Some of them actually say how they don't do anything.
    • If you save in the shack that houses the entrance to the Sacred Grounds after taking down the Undead Core, you can no longer return to the caves of the island.
  • Low-Level Advantage: The Nemesis actually weakens if you level it up. At Level 3, it shoots rubber ducks instead of lightning bolts. The Level 2 Blade can deal more damage than the Level 3 Blade if you spam it in your enemy's face.
  • Luck-Based Mission: There's a corridor in the Sacred Grounds/Bloodstained Sanctuary, where blocks, both large and small, rain down upon you completely randomly. Regardless of size, they all do ten damage, which can add up pretty quickly. To make matters worse, the corridor is also filled with Goddamned Bats. If you take five damage from the bats and run/use the Booster 2.0 as fast as possible, it's significantly easier.
  • Magikarp Power: The very first weapon. You have two opportunities to trade or upgrade it into something better; if you refuse both of them, you can get it remodeled into the game's most useful gun... hey! Why are you kicking yourself all of a sudden?
    • The Bubbler, which at the first level shoots pathetically weak bubbles at short range, and has limited, slowly-auto-reloading ammo to boot. It upgrades to a moderately useful rapid-fire stream of bubbles that reloads faster, and upgrades again into an awesome all-rounder weapon which can hit at long range, shield you from enemies, and charge up for a hail of bullets.
    • The Machine gun, one of the possible trades for the Polar Star, is nothing to get excited about when you first take it (although the damage output is better than the Polar Star, given the continuous fire). When fully upgraded, firing it downwards propels you into the air, and you can use it as a limited form of flight; later on, when you get an upgrade that speeds up your ammo recovery, you can stay airborne almost indefinitely. The downside is that if you get used to moving around like this, doing a run with the Snake or the Spur is so much harder.
  • MacGuffin: The Demon Crown (before the game starts), and the red flowers.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: Balrog uses this in one of the fights with him, and you can get a miniaturized one of your own via the level 3 Missile Launcher.
  • Mad Doctor: The Doctor, natch.
  • Malevolent Architecture: And Chaco's fireplace as a passageway in Grasstown. And why does Santa have a deathtrap in his house?
  • Marathon Boss: The last five bosses play more like two massive Sequential Bosses. And the last of them is a Marathon Boss on his own.
  • Meaningful Name: Misery sure loves making others... well, miserable.
    • Throughout the game, Professor Booster provides you with special jetpacks called... Boosters.
  • Melting Pot Nomenclature: Kazuma Sakamoto, and his sister, Sue.
  • Metroidvania: Definitely influenced by this genre, but it's actually fairly linear with very few sidequests, and contains at least four distinct areas that don't obviously interact other than via teleporter. (Start Cave/Mimiga Village/Labyrinth/Waterway, Egg Corridor/Outer Wall/Plantation/Balcony/Final Cave/Sacred Grounds, Grasstown, and the Sand Zone.) So it seems more like a platformer with Metroidvania elements.
  • Missing Secret: In the inventory screen, there are six spaces for weapons, yet the most weapons you can have in the game at one time is five; this could probably be explained by saying that there was supposed to be another weapon originally, but it was Dummied Out.
  • Modular Epilogue: During the Normal ending, there's a montage of various places on the island just before it crashes, e.g. Curly Brace's body is shown if you failed to save her. Both the Normal and the Best ending feature a "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue over the end credits, with slight changes between them, such as Professor Booster appearing if you saved him, and Pooh Black taking Balrog's place if the latter leaves with you.
  • Mood Whiplash: Towards the end of the Sand Zone, things get a little dark.
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: The Doctor.
  • Most Gamers Are Male:
    • If you sleep in the bed of Chaco, at the right time, you'll get her lipstick and awake to see her sleeping in the same bed too. This happens right after she asks you if you want to "go through" her "fireplace," and recommends that you use "jellyfish juice". Exactly how a robot is implied to have sex with a rabbit is left as an exercise to the reader. Even worse—the Steam Achievement for getting the lipstick is "Lady's Man". And this is in a game that got an E10+ rating. The above event is Bowdlerized in the 3DS version. The player still gets the lipstick if he sleeps in Chaco's bed, but when they wake up, she'll be sleeping on the floor; Presumably, she had nowhere else to sleep with Quote in her bed.
    • Later on, you can acquire your new female partner's panties. They don't actually do anything; they just sit in your inventory for you to look at. Why a robot would need panties, we may never know.
    • In the WiiWare/Steam version's Curly Story mode, you can still pull off the Chaco's Lipstick easter egg. Yeah. If you do the panties Easter egg, do you think you'll find ... Mr. Traveller's Jock Strap, maybe? No, you still find the panties, now labeled as "Your Panties". ...Yeap. In the Curly sprite hack for the PC version (which the Wii version's Curly mode is supposedly based off of), Curly's Panties are changed to "Quote's Briefs"
  • Multiple Endings: Several characters may die or survive depending on your actions, and the results will be reflected in the cut-scene at the standard ending. It's even possible to get a Bad Ending by accepting one character's offer to run away in the middle of the game. (in the Steam version, you earn a humiliating achievement called "Coward" if you do this) Overall, there are three main endings total, with slight variations depending your actions.
    • One variation is beating the game while still wearing the Mimiga Mask. Misery comments about how ridiculous the character looks, and the end credit illustrations are tweaked to reflect the character wearing the mask.
  • Mutually Exclusive Powerups: There are three possible upgrades to the Polar Star, your first weapon: the Machine Gun, the Snake, and the Spur. You can only get one of them. Similarly, you can only get the Booster 2.0 if you don't acquire the Booster 0.8.
    • If you can locate a certain NPC, he'll offer to exchange your King's Sword for his Nemesis gun.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Misery, Balrog, and Cthulhu. The former two are an Affably Evil Quirky Miniboss Squad, and the latter ... are a race of harmless, friendly NPCs.
  • Nice Hat: The protagonist, who miraculously keeps it on throughout the entire game. According to official art, it has "Curly Brace" written on it, although it was made at a time when this was going to be the character's name.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: After defeating the Core near the middle of the game, the protagonist discovers that its main purpose was to keep the floating island afloat...Thankfully, Misery and the Doctor swoop in to save the Core and zombify it.
  • Nintendo Hard: Things are quite bearable until you get to Misery or Last Cave, depending on your booster version in which case it becomes this. And then there's the Brutal Bonus Level, which is Platform Hell at its finest, and the last two bosses, the Heavy Press and Ballos. UGH. Plus the aptly named "Hard" mode in which your protagonist becomes a One-Hit-Point Wonder.
    • Monster X is no walk in the park either.
    • Hard Mode in the rereleases is a minimal HP, no Missile run. This actually ends with a case of Easy Levels, Hard Bosses barring the Sacred Grounds; the levels aren't that bad (except for maybe Labyrinth M in Cave Story 3D), but the bosses are horrifyingly difficult. ESPECIALLY the Core.
  • No-Gear Level: Oddly averted. When the protagonist is captured in the Plantation, he gets thrown in jail at one point, but his captors don't bother to take any of his weapons away.
    • But they didn't need to. He apparently couldn't find a way out before reading the note. If anything, it's THAT they should have taken away.
  • Non-Standard Game Over: A simple "You were never seen again." if you fall off the Outer Wall. The worst ending can be considered a Non Standard Game Over, since rather than a series of scenes followed by credits, there's one scene, narrated with a "You have died"-like box, followed by nothing.
  • Noob Cave: First Cave.
  • No Plot? No Problem!: Subverted. The game starts in a typical platform cave with no plot information given, and the author's description of the game (see quote at the top) seems to be written with the purpose of making people believe it has no actual plot. Then the player encounters more and more actual characters and exposition, until you have a detailed story.
  • Novelization: A fan-made one here.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: Common in this game, especially with Curly.
  • Oh, Crap: The dying robot tells you and Curly: "Current forces insufficient. Retreat! RETREAT!" Then the door slams shut, and the boss wakes up.
  • One Bullet at a Time: Most weapons have a certain limit on the maximum amount of shots — three polar star bullets, four Snake shots, two Nemesis bolts or one high-level Spur laser can exist at once. Only one Blade shot can exist at a time, but each blade deals a great amount of damage and (unless on level 3) the shot disappears when hitting an enemy, making it the deadliest weapon at point blank.
  • One-Hit Kill: The Blade (again), which is strong enough to one-shot most enemies, even at its Level 1 strength.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: Hard mode removes all Heart Containers from the entire game except for the one given by the puppy in the Plantation, which is worth 5 HP, forcing you to survive with only 3 HP. Against enemies and bosses that frequently do much more damage per hit.
    • Monster X and The Core have literally no attacks that do less that 4 HP of damage, meaning getting hit once is death. Oh, and these two are considered some of the strongest bosses in the regular modes.
  • One-Hit Polykill: A charged-up Spur attack can pass through numerous Mooks, though most bosses stop the shot after one hit. The Fireball can hit two targets, and Blade lvl 2 can hit three targets. The Snake can even pass through terrain!
  • One-Winged Angel: Happens a hell of a lot, sometimes in multiple phases.
  • Optional Sexual Encounter: See Most Gamers Are Male. However, the game doesn't specifically state it was sexual.
  • Out of the Frying Pan: The Core attacks you. When you defeat it, Misery and the Doctor show up, having been alerted to your presence by the fight. They take the Core, flood the chamber, and teleport away, leaving you to drown in a locked room.
  • Oxygen Meter: Present whenever you go underwater, because you're not a waterproof robot.
  • Palette Swap: Pooh Black, a recolored form of Balrog's earlier existence in the game's beta as Puu.
    • In the Wiiware/Steam version, the protagonist's costume is a different color, depending on what difficulty level you're playing. In Easy mode, the red tones in his outfit are now Yellow and in hard mode, they are now Blue, his skin is Tan and is blonde.
    • The enemies you encounter in First Cave reappear in multiple colors throughout the game.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: The Mimiga mask which tricks half of the characters, including Professor Booster. Misery and The Doctor even have special dialogue if you manage to get there without trading the mask back to Sue for your jetpack.
  • Path of Most Resistance: If you don't have this in mind, you probably won't get the Good Ending.
  • People Puppets: During the Undead Core battle.
  • Phrase Catcher: "You're a soldier from the surface, aren't you?"
  • Physical God: Jenka and Ballos are "far beyond the power of mortals", capable of powerful magical feats and having lived for what seems to be several times longer than normal human lifespans. However, they are never stated to be gods, and Jenka hints that she will eventually have to die if you visit her late in the game.
  • Planet Heck: Although its official name is "Sacred Grounds" (or "Sanctuary"), a sign hidden near the entrance clearly says "Welcome to Hell!" And the "angels" turn into demons when they die and drop the illusion entirely when they surround the True Final Boss.
  • Point of No Return: There's only one true point of no return; you eventually escape the Labyrinth after getting thrown in it, and if you've unlocked the Brutal Bonus Level, there's a book on the shelf that will ask you if you want to give up on it and offers to "rewind time" so you can get the normal ending. However, if you save in the shack containing the Brutal Bonus Level, you can never return to the caves, as rewinding time only brings you back to the moment where you just defeated the Final Boss and started causing the island to plummet.
    • Defeating Toroko and saving in the Labyrinth is a temporary one.
  • Power Incontinence: The Doctor after his first form is defeated. Ballos, who became this by being tortured by an unnamed king.
  • Powers of Two Minus One: Occur in a few places (for example, dying on one of the instant death spikes deals 127 damage).
  • The Professor: Booster.
  • Platform Hell: The Hidden Last Cave. Good luck landing on that single safe spot between dozens of deadly spikes.
  • Psycho Serum: The "red flowers", which turn the delicate Mimigas into hulking homicidal monsters.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: Jenka's theme is a Finnish dance called "Letkajenkka"
  • Punny Name: One of the enemies is named BuyoBuyo Base, which kinda sounds like Bouillabaisse.
  • Rainbow Speak: ·Interpuncts· are used to highlight item names in dialogue.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Misery and Jenka.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Misery, Crazed Mimigas, Red Crystal Doctor, and Ballos... halfway, anyway.
    • The Presses make this into a warning. When they open up their mechanical red eye, they're about to crush you. Make sure you remember this after beating the Heavy Press...
    •  Averted with  Professor Booster. He wears signal red, opaque glasses and doesn't look too friendly, seemingly putting him in the role of The Mole. Fittingly, he is in fact only a Red Herring Mole. Also after leaving the Labyrinth, you can find a wounded Professor Booster: One of his lenses is broken, revealing that his eyes have a regular, dark-shaded iris.
  • Recoil Boost: Machine gun at level 3.
  • Recurring Boss: Balrog.
  • Remixed Level: The "Egg Corridor (?)". Yes, the question mark is part of its name.
    • Also, Last Cave changes when you're on the path to the good ending.
  • Respawning Enemies: Whenever you move between "rooms", the enemies will respawn. A couple of areas, such as the Egg Corridor, will also periodically throw flying enemies at you.
  • Retraux: 8-bit graphics and a TurboGrafx 16-esque sound driver for a computer game released in 2004. One of the few games to be unintentionally retraux — development actually began in 1999, but the sheer length of development (and all by one person) took the game from "slightly out-of-date" to "retro NES throwback".
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Mimigas.
  • Ridiculously Human Robots: The robots can drown (which does get an in-game justification), sleep to repair damage, regain their memories by eating a mushroom, and, well... read Most Gamers Are Male, above.
    • There's an "Air" counter underwater, and at one point you're informed "you can breathe" indicating a working and essential respiratory system. The robots can also receive medical care and medicine.
  • Robot Girl: Curly Brace, natch.
  • Robot Hair: Both Quote and Curly Brace respectively have black and blonde hair, making them stand out from other, less humanoid robots.
  • Rushmore Refacement: Those statues of the Demon Crown wearers can be revisited right before the fight with the True Final Boss — shooting them turns them into statues of you, King, Toroko, and Curly Brace. And you get powerups for doing so.
  • Scarf of Asskicking: You wear one.
  • Scary Shiny Glasses: The Doctor
  • Scenery Porn: The 3DS version contains wonderfully detailed backgrounds.
  • Scenery Gorn: The Egg Corridor after it gets damaged.
    • The room in which you fight Ballos seems to be carpeted in skeletons. During his final form bloodied spikes grow from the floor.
  • Schmuck Bait: A sign placed next to some Spikes Of Doom clearly warns "One touch means instant death!" Unfortunately, the swathes of spikes littered throughout the rest of the game do not have a similar warning — neither are they so easy to avoid. When you first see this, ANYTHING kills you instantly.
  • Schrödinger's Gun: There's a number of plausible explanations for why your decision to talk to Professor Booster determines whether he lives or dies. For example, if you talk to him, you can take his invention, the Booster v0.8, from him so you can use it. Using it is the only way to get out of the pit he (and now you) have fallen intonote , and you can't take him with you when you use the Booster v0.8 to escape. However, your decision to talk with Booster also determines whether a tow rope in the very securely locked room adjacent is loose or stuck which affects whether you can get the good ending or not.
  • Screen Shake: The whole game after defeating the Undead Core.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Two-thirds through, one of your allies gains a means of escape, and encourages you to run away with him, rather than staying to fight. You can take him up on this offer; however, doing so gets you the worst ending.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Ballos, although he's not completely evil.
  • Sequel Hook: The original game ends rather neatly, but it's never fully explained just what the island is, or why the surface tried to attack it. And in the latest remake (released after Pixel began talking about a potential sequel), it's revealed in a possibly canon sequence that someone or something was making Curly clones in the Wind Fortress.
    • The surface was trying to get ahold of the Demon Crown, according to Curly.
  • Sequential Boss: The Doctor, who is the second of a three-part Boss Rush. Also, the True Final Boss. To a lesser extent, Monster X, who can't even be hurt until its turrets are destroyed.
  • Send in the Clones: As you progress through Cave Story Plus's Wind Fortress, the only enemies you'll be fighting through the last end of the level are clones of Curly.
  • Senseless Sacrifice: King's death cannot prevent anything anymore.
  • Shared Life Meter: The Sisters are of the first variety (characters all getting their health from the same life bar).
  • Shield-Bearing Mook: The Gravekeeper is invulnerable from the front unless he's preparing to attack or has just attacked.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Skippable Boss: The very first boss, as well as "The Sisters." Although the first one is more ironic: Balrog actually asks you if you're going to fight him, and just leaves if you say no...
    • The Sisters are not so obvious, however. Though, skipping them involves skipping a missile expansion, which, given the ease of the boss fight, is completely worth getting.
    • If you're fast enough, you can actually grab the missile expansion and still skip The Sisters by escaping the room in time. It is eventually demonstrated in this Speedrun.
  • Spam Attack: The Bubbler's Level 3 shot allows you to do this if you hold down the fire button for a few seconds first.
    • In the boss battle with the Doctor, his second form has an attack which shoots out a huge amount of red bats.
  • Spikes Of Doom: With varying lethality from Grasstown point on. Last Cave and Sacred Grounds are filled with them.
    • The normal spikes simply cause a lot of damage. The ones that look like laser spikes, on the other hand...
  • Smashing Hallway Traps of Doom: The Presses, especially later on in the Plantation, both versions of the Last Cave, and a few in the Sacred Grounds. In the case of the Plantation, you can bypass the trap by using an exploit (taking damage and using Mercy Invincibility), but the door still won't open (claiming it's too early to come here.)
  • Speedrun: The Nikumaru Counter, specifically used to time any attempts at the Brutal Bonus Level. World record time is about 2:17 for those of you who are curious.
    • Wind Fortress also has the ability to do this.
  • Sprite/Polygon Mix: Classic Mode in the 3DS version does this, retaining the original character, enemy and item sprites, but uses 3D backgrounds.
  • Stalactite Spite: Revisited Egg Corridor. Stalactites hurt enemies too though.
  • Stationary Boss: The Heavy Press and Ballos' last form, though in the latter's room everything you can step on either moves or damages you.
  • Stealth Pun: To craft a bomb, you need to get coal. You find the coal in the fireplace of a Mimiga named Santa.
  • Stupidity Is the Only Option: Halfway through the game, you will witness Dr. Booster falling into a chasm. Major spoilers ahead: Going down the chasm to help him will have him reward you with the Booster 0.8 with his last breath. What happens if you do not go down the chasm and ignore him entirely? He is perfectly fine a couple of levels later and will provide you with the vastly improved Booster 2.0. Merely having this version of the Booster triggers the existence of an object required to save Curly, and its required for reaching the Bonus Dungeon.
  • Sugar Apocalypse: Once you reach the end of the Sand Zone, it becomes obvious fairly quickly that this one's not completely sweet and cuddly.
  • Super Not-Drowning Skills: Initially the Traveler sinks like a rock and has roughly 15 seconds to surface before drowning. Once Curly sacrifices herself and gives you her oxygen tank, you can stay underwater indefinitely.
  • Superweapon Surprise: The red flowers' effect. They're so secret, Mimigas no longer know the truth about them.
  • Talking Is a Free Action: Lampshaded if you talk to the caged mimiga child during the fight with the doctor.
    Interesting priorities you've got.
  • Tears of Blood: The zombie dragons in the wrecked Egg Corridor.
  • That Makes Me Feel Angry: Misery's "Heavens, that felt good!" while nobody is around.
  • Teleport Spam: When you fight the Doctor's first form, he'll frequently send a double-helix energy ray at you, and by the time you jump over it to get to him, he just teleports again. Yay.
  • This Was His True Form: The defeat of Monster X. Blink and you might miss it. It's a kitty!
  • Theme Naming: "Curly Brace" and "Quote" are (computer programmers' terms for) the { and " symbols, respectively. Also on a keyboard, the curly brace key is directly on top of the quote key. Curly's adopted Mimiga children have the last name Colon (unless you have a certain translation).
    • Also, the leader of the Mimigas is named King and the second-in-command is named Jack, as in the cards.
    • The two guardians of the Mimiga Village were King, and the now-deceased Arthur.
    • The angel enemies in Sacred Ground appear to be named for flat-topped hills: Bute (one letter off from Butte) and Mesa.
    • Jenka and Ballos have names taken from dance styles.
  • The Man Behind the Man: The way to the best ending of the game reveals that the Tragic Villain Balos was the one responsible for both the creation of the Demon Crown The Doctor and his predecessors sought after in order to rule the world and the curse of Misery and Balrog to serve whomever bears the Demon Crown.
  • The Password Is Always Swordfish: Averted, partially by accident; see the Blind Idiot Translation example above.
  • There Was a Door: But it was just too small for Balrog, so he has to bust through the wall, door included. Likely why his catch phrase got changed to a Kool-Aid-Man-style "OH YEAH!" in the Wiiware/Steam release.
  • The Voiceless: Your main character has virtually no dialogue of his own. Even when you're playing the game as Curly.
    • In the WiiWare/Steam version, he does talk, but only if you get the mushroom and meet with him in the Plantation.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: "You feel a black wind blow through you. All weapons dropped to level 1!"
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: The only way the protagonist uses the Blade.
  • Tin-Can Robot: Malco
  • Tomato Surprise: Kind of. The main character is revealed to be a Ridiculously Human Robot one-third into the game. The surprise of this revelation depends entirely on whether you noticed the robot ears on his sprite before this point — they are small and easy to miss. At least one of the NPCs didn't notice them either.
    • Another one that's mentioned in passing, and later becomes important. Being a game called "Cave Story", you wouldn't expect the surface to be below you.
    • Also, one of the cthulhu points out "you will lose all your energy soon enough." Hinting at his robot nature early.
  • Too Awesome to Use: The Life Jar, to the point you'll forget you have it when you really, really need it. You'll want to save it 'till the Brutal Bonus Level anyway. Played with because thankfully, you can go back and get another any time you use it up if you're able to backtrack.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Misery in the final fight. Defying and trying to attack the Doctor, even if he is technically dead, is a very bad idea. Unless you're Quote.
    • Also, the king who imprisoned Ballos. Torturing an immortal person with powers you cannot comprehend? Bad idea.
  • Took a Shortcut: No matter where you go, Curly Brace will get there ahead of you. However, the shortcuts appear rather tough on her, since she's usually heavily injured by the time you get there.
  • Tragic Monster: Every speaking villain but the Doctor, but especially Toroko and Ballos.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The recent video interview for the Wiiware version has the game playing in the background, showing off several areas. This includes Sacred Grounds. IGN's one-paragraph description of the game spoils the player character's name, which you only learn on the path to 100% Completion.
  • Trauma Inn: Beds just restore health. A computer screen also restores missiles.
  • True Companions: Curly and Quote, but only if you get 100% Completion.
  • True Final Boss: The Heavy Press and Ballos, found at the end of The Sacred Grounds, constitute five forms in two bosses. In short, a Boss Bonanza.
  • Tube Travel: Which helps you get out of Plantation's reservoir faster (possibly in case you fall in without the jetpack equipped).
  • Turns Red: Virtually all bosses unveil new attacks at lower HP, most notably Omega, who changes his whole attack pattern, and the Undead Core, who, at low health, sticks to a new attack. The elephant-like Behemoths from the Egg Corridor also turn red and stampede if they take enough damage, though this is rarely seen because they're not hard to defeat in the first place.
  • Underground Monkey: Mainly with the Critters and Bats.
  • Unexpected Shmup Level: Well, more like an Unexpected Shmup Boss when fighting Ironhead.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: The save point is a floppy disc, that is all.
  • Unique Enemy: Chinfish, The Door, Gravekeeper, and Giant Pignon.
  • Villain Override: The Doctor with Misery and Sue.
  • Villain Teleportation
  • Vent Physics: Most notable in Grasstown, but fans can be found elsewhere too.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: Speaking of the Vent Physics, anyone who hasn't mastered them is very likely to get their butt kicked by Balfrog several times on their first playthrough. Other factors play a part, but it's usually the fans that screw one up.
    • Frenzied Toroko is also one as well. Her attacks do almost unseen damage at that point in the game, and she's also pretty fast.
    • For Hard Mode (or a 3 HP, no Missile run), it's the second fight with Balrog. He can kill you in one to two hits, the Fireball is near useless, and the Polar Star still has to get past his energy balls.
  • Walk, Don't Swim: The robotic protagonist and Curly Brace both sink like a rock in water.
  • Wall Master: Sand Crocs! And that infamous killer door! The moving, crushing eye blocks known as Presses count as well.
  • The Walls Are Closing In: The walls of Ballos' chamber close in when the hero and Curly Brace defeat him for good. They would be crushed if not for Balrog.
  • Wave Motion Gun: The Spur, if you fire it when its EXP. bar is at maximum, will release a large white beam that will pierce through and completely reduce any non-boss monster in the game into its component atoms. There is no better example of There Is No Kill Like Overkill in this game than this alone.
  • Welcome to Corneria: Averted. Most NPCs will say different things depending on how far you've gone through the game.
  • Welcome to Hell: a sign reads this, verbatim near the beginning of the end-game Bonus Dungeon, the Sacred Grounds.
  • With This Herring: You are an elite combat android sent to destroy an artifact that gives its wearer unthinkable power, on an island populated by rampaging monsters. You begin the game unarmed and with three hit points and no weapons. Presumably something bad happened to you beforehand. Once Curly gets her memory back, it's heavily implied that the previous wielder of the Demon Crown beat the robotic crap out of you; also, other robots are found near the Core and are in really bad shape.
    Analysis complete
    Current forces insufficient
    • If the new Wind Fortress challenge is to be taken as canon; you and Curly might not even be military androids from the surface either, but some androids actually made on the island by an unknown party
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Ballos. Poor, poor Ballos.
  • You Bastard:
    • When you defeat most bosses, a block of text comes up on the screen comes up saying "You defeated [insert boss name]!" When you defeat Frenzied Toroko, it's followed by a period. Played even more straight in the Nicalis translation, where it's followed by an ellipsis.
    • The text the game displays in the worst ending also has shades of this.
  • You Gotta Have Green Hair: It seems to be a Sakamoto family trait. The Doctor has green hair as well.
    • Misery has blue hair, except for her dialogue portrait, where her hair is green. The Wiiware version has her hair consistently blue.
  • You Have Failed Me: Misery ultimately decides she's had enough of Balrog.
  • X Marks the Hero: Sue.
    • And King... However, he doesn't last long enough to make much of a difference, unless you count the Blade.
  • Zigzag Paper Tassel: On the boulder that blocks the entrance to Labyrinth M.

You have died. Retry?
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alternative title(s): Dokutsu Monogatari; Doukutsu Monogatari; Cave Story
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