Follow TV Tropes


Creator / CAVE

Go To
"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 localizing some of CAVE's Xbox 360 shoot 'em ups, so far including DeathSmiles and DoDonPachi Resurrection as well as Akai Katana. Their release of DoDonPachi Resurrection is also region-free for America and Europe, meaning other non-Japanese fans can get in on the action. CAVE has also partnered with Degica to release some of their games worldwide via Steam. Currently, Mushihime Sama, Deathsmiles, and DoDonPachi DaiFukkatsu are available on Steam. Despite not being involved with it, a port of Progear was also released in 2021 on Steam as part of the Capcom Arcade Stadium.

CAVE would bring out another wave of their ports near the end of the decade, going into the 2020s. In 2018 and 2019, CAVE would collaborate with M2 to bring a few of their games to modern consoles. A port of Dangun Feveron was released for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in 2017 in Japan and 2018 in the rest of the world. Ketsui Deathtiny: Kizuna Jigoku Tachi was released on PS4 in 2018 in Japan and in 2020 in the rest of the world. ESP Ra.De. Psi was then released on PS4 and Nintendo Switch in 2019. Live-Wire released Mushihimesama, Espgaluda II, and DoDonPachi DaiFukkatsu on Switch in 2021; all three ports are based on their Xbox 360 versions. A port of Deathsmiles I and II for all three eighth-generation platforms (Switch, PS4, Xbox One) by City Connection is set for a December 2021 release.

You can catch CAVE on Twitter here.

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 Campaign Version (1998?) note 
    • DoDonPachi DaiOuJou (2002)
      • DoDonPachi DaiOuJou Black Label (2002)
      • DoDonPachi DaiOuJou Death Label (Playstation 2, 2003)note 
      • DoDonPachi DaiOuJou Black Label EXTRA (Xbox 360, 2006)note 
    • DoDonPachi DaiFukkatsu (2008)
      • DoDonPachi DaiFukkatsu Black Label (2010)
      • DoDonPachi DaiFukkatsu (iPhone, 2010)
      • DoDonPachi Resurrection (Xbox 360 (2010), Steam (2016) and Nintendo Switch (2021))note 
    • DoDonPachi Maximum (Windows Phone & iPhone, 2012)
    • DoDonPachi SaiDaiOuJou (2012)
      • DoDonPachi SaiDaiOuJou Kan (Xbox 360, 2013)
      • DoDonPachi SaiDaiOuJou Exa Labelnote  (eXA-Arcadia, 2020)
  • Touge King: The Spirits (released in North America as High Velocity – Mountain Racing Challenge) (1995)
    • Touge King: The Spirits 2 (1997)
  • Steep Slope Sliders (1997)
    • Trick'N Snowboarder (1999)
  • Dangun Feveron (1998)
  • ESP Ra.De. (1998)
    • ESP Ra. De. Psy (Playstation 4 & Nintendo Switch, 2019)
  • 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)
    • Ketsui Deathtiny for PlayStation 4 (2018)
  • 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)
    • Gothic wa Mahou Otome note  (2015)
    • Deathsmiles I & II for Playstation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch (2021)
  • Muchi-Muchi Pork (2007)
  • Shin Megami Tensei IMAGINE (2007)
  • Princess Debut (2008)
  • Akai Katana (2010)
    • Akai Katana Shin (Xbox 360, 2011)
  • Mini 4WD Games (2011)
  • Shirotsuku: Castle Creator (2011 for Japanese mobile, 2012 for other platforms)
  • Nin²-Jump (2011)
  • Houkago No Kamishibaibu (2011)
  • Rokumeikan Mahjong (2011)
  • Angel Code (2011)
  • Instant Brain (2011)
  • Gun Blood Days (2012)
  • Cube Drop (2016)
  • Lord Of Dungeon (2017)
  • Sangoku Justice (2018)

  • A currently untitled Touhou Project game (2022)

Licensed games:

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.
  • Manabu Namiki: Music composer who did many, many songs for the DonPachi series. Left the company in 2012.

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.
  • Arrange Mode: The "[color]" Label versions are often this:
  • Audience Shift: When CAVE decided to port their games to mobile, a whole new demographic came to them: mobile gamers. This is due to the fact that the IOS ports are one of the few localizations of the game and probably the versions most people recognize. This later prompted that CAVE shifted to mobile games, as it would be their best market, since they had success with their mobile releases. With titles such as Don Paccin and Mahou Otome, these games resemble the Bullet Hell that CAVE is traditionally known for, but with gameplay mechanics that cater to casual gamers, such as the lack of One-Hit-Point Wonder and the addition of stat-enhancing items, gameplay mechanics, and collectibles, which enhanced even further with microtransactions.
  • 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, commonly making use of very fast patterns that are associated with popular perception of Bullet Hell games. Along with the more famous Touhou Project, Cave was responsible for bringing the subgenre out of niche circles and to an extent, reviving the Shoot 'Em Up genre after it fell out of favor with the decline of arcades and the rise of 3-d gaming. Notably, CAVE shooters are ranked very high in terms of preference by shoot 'em up players.
  • Capcom Sequel Stagnation: To a limited extent with a number of their games, but DoDonPachi is one of the biggest offenders out there.
  • 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.
  • 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. While very few play these kinds of games for the plot, there's nevertheless named characters and settings for the curious.
  • Follow the Leader: The Shoot 'Em Up genre was already overflowing with games by the time the 90s 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.
  • Grand Finale: SaiDaiOuJou is not just this for the DonPachi franchise, it is also CAVE's last big shmup.
  • 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.
  • Improbably Female Cast: Deathsmiles is the best example with one out of the six playable characters being male, and even then he's a convincing crossdresser, but generally most work that has contributions by artist Junya Inoue tends to favor female characters.
  • Nintendo Hard: Their most celebrated aspect second to the quality of their titles is the relentless difficulty. 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. Additionally, certain games such as Deathsmiles and the various arranges of Mushihime-Sama have a wide variety of difficulty settings for those new to the genre. 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."note 
    • Their mobile ports are even more so; unless you're playing on tablets with larger screens, their bullet-hell gameplay is a Surprise Difficulty for mobile gamers who weren't used to it, especially in smartphones' glaringly cramped screens.
  • No-Sell: Nearly all of their True Final Bosses will raise a shield if you fire your Smart Bomb or otherwise gain invincibility to prevent you from just cheesing them.
  • Our Lawyers Advised This Trope: CAVE games have traditionally had a poorly translated English legal warning, ending in the infamous sentence: "Violator and subject to severe penalties and will be prosecutedt to the full extent of the jam." Made even stranger by the fact that, in the case of DoDonPachi, the rest of the legal warning is written in English. Furthermore, when Mushihime-sama received a Steam port, most of the warning was rewritten to remove the "for use in Japan only" lines (replacing them with "for use on planet Earth only"), while the final line has the word "jam" instead of "law" left intact. If this wasn't an intentional joke at first, it definitely is now.
  • 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.
  • Scenery Porn: Their games tend to be very, very pretty. From the trippy digital backgrounds in the Don Pachi series, to the lovingly detailed forests and insects in Mushihime Sama, to the spooky gothic scenery of Deathsmiles.
  • Sdrawkcab Name: The corrupt Mega-Corp of Ketsui, EVAC, is "CAVE" spelled backwards.
  • Sequel First: See previous example.
  • 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.

This page is for use in Trope Land only. Sales, export or operation outside this country may be construed as copyright and trademark infrindgement and is strictly prohibited. Violator and subject to severe penalties and will be prosecutedt to the full extent of the JAM.