Follow TV Tropes


YMMV / Cave Story

Go To

  • Author's Saving Throw:
    • In the Switch version, the dog quest that takes up most of Sand Zone is changed so that you can carry all five dogs at once, and the last dog, formerly at the end of the area, is now near the Omega boss room. This makes the quest go by much more quickly.
    • After 13 years, an update to + finally lets you refuse the Booster v0.8 (so that you can get v2.0 later) and adds an extra platform to let you get out of the pit it's in without getting it, in case you fail the rather tricky jump over it.
  • Advertisement:
  • Awesome Bosses: The last five bosses are the pinnacle of the game. And the boss preceding them is a symbolic one.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Sue Sakamoto is without a doubt the game's most polarizing character. There are those who find her feisty Tsundere personality extremely infuriating and criticize her lack of impact on the overall story, while others love her for her feistiness and enjoy her role in the story just fine.
    • Kazuma, since his choice to leave the continent to avoid the Doctor's plan completely either makes him tragically sympathetic or a cowardly, borderline sociopathic asshole.
  • Better Than Canon: The fan-made fourth ending, particularly because you can actually save King and Toroko and the credits suggest Misery finally makes amends with her mother, Jenka.
  • Bizarro Episode: The Outer Wall is by far the weirdest place in the game. The gravity is odd, treating the left side of the screen as 'down' for everything except you (though this could be justified if the wind is strong enough — this is the outside of a Floating Continent, after all). The enemies don't seem bizarre at first, but then you encounter the giant cat ghosts that shoot yarn balls with eyes at you. And living at the bottom is a group of people that are five inches high.
  • Breather Level:
    • The Waterway, right after the Labyrinth, which has much weaker enemies and the water currents that literally complete most of the level for you.
    • The Plantation is rather easy compared to Outer Wall and what's to come. Most of the enemies in this area are rather weak or easily avoidable, save points are plentiful and there are no bosses.
    • If one endures the living hell that is Hard Mode and is on track to get the best ending, the Hidden Last Cave becomes this. Compared to the hectic Labyrinth M and the Destroyed Egg Corridor, this level is one where you can calmly make your way through, and the boss is relatively easy compared to what came before. This is also the first level where you can enjoy the only Life Capsule in Hard Mode and have 8 HP, so not that many non-spike or Press attacks will kill you in one hit. This is especially true, even outside of Hard Mode, with one of the two ultimate weapons, as one is charged rather than leveled up while the other is meant to be kept at Level One.
    • Advertisement:
    • The Balcony, especially if the player is on the path to the Golden Ending, which rewards the player with the Hidden version of the Last Cave. There are only 4 enemies, lots of weapon energy capsules and missile refills higher up the boss area's face, and is the last place the player goes through before entering the Sacred Grounds which only has the falling blocks to worry about as opposed to the Goddamned Butes in the Sacred Grounds.
  • Complete Monster: Dr. Fuyuhiko Date, known almost exclusively as the Doctor, is a sociopathic researcher who came onto the floating island to take control of the powers of the Demon Crown. The Doctor is responsible for kidnapping several of the harmless native Mimigas and force-feeding them the corrupting red flowers, mutating them into savage beasts. The Doctor has reduced the Mimiga's village to a select few survivors in doing this, and plots to use the rabid Mimiga to attack the surface world. The Doctor has his servants force-feed the young Toroko these red flowers, ultimately leading to her death, and murders King when he tries to intervene, commenting on how "fragile" their bodies are. The Doctor is also responsible for mutating several of the island's infant dragons into undead zombies. At the end of the game, the Doctor mutates his own servant Misery to her dissent, intending to make her his puppet until the day she dies. The Doctor was an unfettered egomaniac who puts his pride above everything else, all the while behaving in a calm, perpetually condescending manner.
  • Demonic Spiders:
    • The armored Gaudis in Labyrinth M. They throw knives at you which do loads of damage, and unlike the purple projectiles from the flying Gaudis, they can't be shot down.
    • The Crows and Butes listed as Goddamned Bats below become this in Hard Mode.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Balrog is beloved for being a Large Ham who provides some of the game's most memorable Catchphrases.
    • King, especially after he gives the player the Blade, one of the best weapons on a normal run, before dying from his injuries. It even has his soul! It also helps that he curbstomped Balrog just a bit beforehand and that he's a signified badass even before that happens.
    • Momorin has very little screentime, but she has a lot of fans for being one of the few humans who is unambiguously a good person.
    • Malco's screentime is very brief, but memorable as he is upstaged by Balrog as a boss, and later bonds with Quote, since they're both robots.
  • Fandom Rivalry: Shares a minor one with Undertale. Cave Story fans get annoyed when Undertale fanart appears in Cave Story Tumblr tags. It also doesn't help that trolls are accusing Cave Story for ripping off Undertale even though Cave Story was released a decade before.
  • Friendly Fandoms: Despite the above, Cave Story and Undertale fans can often get along, complete with many crosovers in their ranks. They share similarly friendly relationships with Yume Nikki, Off, and Mother fans, also leading to crossovers.
  • Goddamned Bats: The game has actual bats which can swarm around you if you don't kill them while sleeping, and are particularly obnoxious when summon spammed by bosses.
  • Goddamned Boss:
    • The Core, with periods of invulnerability and ability to flood the area, which slows you down and may drown you. Also, the boss area is quite far from the previous restoration point even if you aren't going for the Golden Ending.
    • In his first form, the Doctor's attacks are fairly easy to dodge. However, all of his projectiles block your projectiles, and that's not accounting for the Red Crystal he's got buzzing around him which does the same. And his final form is a reprise of the Core.
  • Good Bad Bugs:
    • Playing in Holiday Mode in the Wii version somehow turns Curly's sprite into the male player character's. Not only is the now-male "Curly" referred to as "she" and "her", you still meet the default character in the Sand Zone. For the rest of the game two copies of the main character are running around the island. And Curly's panties are still referred to as "Your Panties". Yeah.
    • Cave Story 3D has a huge glitch where the game saves flags between save files when you quit the game with the inventory open. This can be used to return from the Point of No Return, get huge amounts of HP, and numerous other wacky things, including getting a Dummied Out item that Nicalis, surprisingly enough, ported into the remake.
  • He's Just Hiding!:
    • Both Toroko and King, since the game never makes their fate quite clear outside of King giving you his blade at his last breath, which clearly shows his spirit when one upgrades it to Level 3. In fact, if one checks for them, no body is left behind, so the player might assume they eventually regained conciousness and left.
    • Curly when one fails to save them, but still manages to bring them to bed, but overlooks that there's still stuff to do to avoid another death. The message confirming their death only shows up when one carries them around too long.
  • Ho Yay: Some fans like to interpret the Bad Ending as Quote and Kazuma (both male) escaping the Doctor's clutches and living Happily Ever After.
  • It Was His Sled:
  • Memetic Badass: Some people on the forums have suggested Kanpachi is actually super-powerful, since nobody seems to mind him casually fishing instead of harvesting flowers at the plantation and he's the only Mimiga there who doesn't end up in a cage.
  • Memetic Mutation:
  • Only the Creator Does It Right: Most die-hard Cave Story fans are adamant about the freeware version of Cave Story, the only one made entirely by Daisuke Amaya, being the best one. Part of it is that the freeware version is easily available and still works well, while most of the ports come with odd issues (such as music not looping properly and broken achievements) despite their other touch-ups, and they rarely get updated with fixes. The other reason is that every port is handled by Nicalis, an indie publisher that is controversial for many reasons, but especially for treating Cave Story as their mascot franchise, including it in crossovers and sending DMCAs to fan projects despite not developing it themselves. The very muddy situation about whether or not Nicalis took the rights to Cave Story from Studio Pixel outright (which has yet to be fully confirmed or unconfirmed) is enough for many fans to swear off Nicalis' ports and encourage people to play the freeware version and its Fan Translation, or give their money to Amaya's follow-up game Kero Blaster (which was published by Playism) instead.
  • Paranoia Fuel: One of earliest doors you'll have to enter is literally a monster. However, this monster never appears again after this initial trap.
  • Player Punch:
    • This seems to be The Doctor's job throughout the game, since he sure as hell doesn't spend any time healing anyone. If he appears on screen, he's either trying to punch your character or trying to punch you.
    • "Curly's life functions have ceased." Five little words to let you know that you dun goofed.
    • Being forced to kill Toroko.
  • Polished Port: The number of ports of the game is comparable to the number of ports of Lunar: The Silver Star, and each capitalizes on the last. The WiiWare port has redone sprites, the ability to play as Curly, and the European version gets an additional soundtrack.note  Cave Story + has all this and the Wind Fortress, somehow harder than the Sacred Grounds. 3D has polygonal models, and Cave Story +'s eShop release boasts everything + does but the graphics, and to compensate it's in stunning 3D. The Switch version then adds onto all of this with the Wii's remastered graphics, animated talking sprites, widescreen, some gorgeous subtle lighting effects, and co-op in a later update.
  • Popular with Furries: The Mimiga have got themselves a fandom, complete with character-centric fanfics and fanart.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: It cannot be stressed enough how important this game is. Just about everything about it has permanently influenced Indie game development since its release. Numerous successful Retraux titles such as Minecraft, Shovel Knight, and even Mega Man 9 owe their very existence to Cave Story. The game has been copied to death ever since it was released back in 2004, meaning that all the factors that once made it legendary (the spritework, the music, the story, even the fact that it was made by one guy) are now old hat.
  • Slow-Paced Beginning: This game can make a bad first impression, thrusting you into the plot In Medias Res with underwhelming weapons, Jump Physics that even the game's fans admit are very floaty, and tiresome fetch quests. Things pick up when you get to the Sand Zone, where "fetch quest" means "go explore this big open level with varied interesting enemies at your own pace". By the time you reach the Labyrinth, you're done with the fetch quests, you have some excellent weapons, and you're finally starting to get a bearing on the plot.
  • Suspiciously Similar Song: The "life capsule" jingle is quite similar to the Metroid "got item" jingle.
  • That One Boss:
    • Monster X is a mine car that drives from one side of the room to the other, forcing you to climb on it to avoid being crushed, and can only be damaged when it stops to unleash a torrent of bullets or homing missiles. While not the toughest boss in the game by any standards, it's far tougher than anything that came before it, and the sheer amount of on-screen objects can be overwhelming even to a player who has played the game before.
    • The Core has five mini-cores that together create an impressive volume of fire, and severely hampers the player's mobility by frequently flooding the room. It Turns Red by adding a current to the water and starting to use an attack which takes off 20 HP (of a maximum attainable 41 at that point). If you're playing on Hard Mode, the difficulty of the fight is amped up considerably since, unless you're playing the physical 3DS release, you only have your starting 3 HP and no Missiles, and thus don't have good damage output and every single attack it throws at you is a One-Hit Kill. While with Monster X you could attack a little and then flee when it gets dangerous, the Core's movement patterns and room layout ensures that this isn't possible, making the Core possibly the biggest roadblock on Hard Mode.
    • Frenzied Toroko makes for one hell of a Wake-Up Call Boss. While her AI pattern is pretty simple and easy to deal with once you get the hang of it, her attacks deal 10 points of damage, which is at roughly 28% of the maximum possible health you can have at that point.
    • The Double Sky Dragon boss in the revisited Egg Corridor deserves a mention. The initial pattern isn't particularly complicated, but that barely matters when heavy-hitting and hard-to-dodge streams of flame are being fired directly at you from two different positions at once. In addition, the boss spends most of its time invincible, and the narrow window you have to hit it before it hits you makes it quite difficult to do damage without getting hit yourself, and it will hit much, much harder than you do.
    • Misery is difficult compared to The Doctor right after her. She has a lot of quick attacks, she Teleport Spams, and as the battle goes, gain orbiting shields that block your shots.
  • That One Level:
    • The Sand Zone. The Egg Corridor prepared you, Grasstown/Bushlands is where the game really starts, the Sand Zone is where the Nintendo Hard and Guide Dang It! nature of the game starts shining, featuring the first opportunity to miss out on one of the two Infinity Plus One Guns, enemies that gang up on you and can cause notable damage together, and a Fetch Quest that forces you to go through the area where the most enemies gang up on you at least five times and forces you to go through that area and the area after it twice. Not to mention Omega and Frenzied/Rabid Toroko, the first two Wake Up Call Bosses. The Switch version lessens the Fetch Quest, however, making the level much more bearable.
    • Labyrinth for enemies that gang up on you a lot, a lot of rooms, and Monster X and The Core, the first two That One Bosses. In the physical 3DS version, the last segment before The Core, Labyrinth M, gets expanded, making it even tougher than in any other version.
    • In the physical 3DS version, the Destroyed Egg Corridor is elevated to this. Shortly after the Sisters, much like Labyrinth M, the level gets expanded, effectively doubling its size. On Hard Mode, since the Sisters aren't able to be fought due to no Missiles being available, you have to do the entire level in one go since the Save Point can't spawn.
    • Last Cave (Hidden) introduces a mechanic not seen anywhere else in the game up to this point: The game resets all of your weapon levels! While this means nothing if you're using the Nemesis, which is most powerful at level 1, or the Spur, which is a Charged Attack weapon, your other weapons will need some time to build back up to level 3. Additionally, there's a sequence at the end where you have to run past a bunch of Presses that One-Hit Kill you if they smash you into the floor, and perfect timing of Booster 2.0 is needed to get past the small water pits in the floor.
  • That One Sidequest: Trying to skip Booster v0.8 so you can get 2.0 later is a pest in most versions because you need to make a very tricky jump over the pit you can obtain it in; if you fall into the pit, you must get 0.8 from Professor Booster to get out. However, an update to Cave Story + not only lets you say no, but adds extra platforms to allow you to get out without getting 0.8.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: Balrog's quirky Catchphrase ("Huzzah!") became "Oh Yeaahhh!" for the WiiWare release. Fans were not pleased. Also, some of the music sounded worse, although in this case the consensus was nearly unanimous, with the real debate being how big a problem it was. Nicalis heard the complaints, and eventually released an update that fixed the sound, music, and a few grammar/spelling quirks... but not Balrog's line.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • Both King and Toroko have unique and likeable personalities and prove to be quite capable fighters, and it would've been interesting to see them accompany the player much like Curly does. They are both killed early into the game and are impossible to save unlike Curly.
    • The Doctor is a generally flat, purely evil antagonist. He wants to conquer the world using brainwashed Mimigas, with no further reason as to why he wants to do so.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: To some, Misery. Despite being forced to work for the Doctor due to being enslaved by the Demon Crown, and the fact that Balrog even says the Doctor has smacked her at least once off-screen, she clearly does enjoy the occasional act of being a Jerkass, including sending Balrog to the Labyrinth simply out of annoyed spite. The fact that she personally forced her uncle to create the Demon Crown in the first place in spite of his circumstances and drawing its power directly from his own only makes her Laser-Guided Karma of being controlled by the very crown she made a rather deserving fate, on top of being the catalyst for the entire plot to begin with.
  • Viewer Gender Confusion: Mr. Traveler/Quote can be easily mistaken for a girl at first glance, due to having Boyish Short Hair and rather androgynous clothing. The fact that his name was actually going to be "Curly Brace" would've only made thing worse.
  • What an Idiot!: Played for Laughs when Kazuma Sakamoto decides it's a good idea to start the ignition for a motorcycle in Grasstownnote /Bushlandsnote  without looking at the controls first. It goes about as well as you'd think it would, with the exception of him and fellow passenger Professor Booster surviving. Not so much the poor motorcycle.
  • What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: The game is known for its accessible and engaging gameplay and cutesy visuals. It also features themes of slavery, war, and biological experimentation on unwilling test subjects, four nightmarish final bosses (The Doctor, who loses control and mutates, then him possessing the Core, Sue, and Misery, then the Heavy Press which attacks out of nowhere and is a Kaizo Trap if you don't realize what it is quickly enough, then finally Ballos, who has a horrific backstory and red, dripping, tortured faces in his head), and most of the cast dying before your eyes at regular intervals. And still goes with a rating of E10+.
  • The Woobie:
    • Toroko is a young Mimiga who lost her older brother not too long before the events of the game. She saves and cares for Sue when the latter shows up in Mimiga Village, only to get mistaken for her by Balrog and kidnapped as a result. After the Doctor uses her as a guinea pig for the red flowers, Quote has no choice but to Mercy Kill her.
    • King clearly cares about his people and tries his best to stand in for Arthur, but when it comes to a confrontation between him and the Doctor, the latter unceremoniously throws him against a wall. He accepts his death, but gives Quote his blade, hoping to at least assist him in spirit.
    • Sue may be rude and stand-offish, but she also suffers a lot through the game. Getting turned into a Mimiga doesn't even begin to cover it.
  • Woobie Species: The Mimiga are friendly creatures living happily in their village, which just happens to contain toxic red plants which turns them strong and aggressive. And they're planned to be used as weapons by a sociopathic doctor. Even worse, since the player can choose to just let him.
  • Woolseyism: Many consider the original fan translation far superior to the more Wonder Bread official localization that came years later. While the official translation clearly borrowed from the fan version used for years, it removed scores of little nuances and phrasings that were more dynamic and made each character seem more identifiable in how they came across. Of course, in many cases, the preference is as simple as changing Balrog's iconic "Huzzah!" to the "Oh yeeeaaah!" Kool-Aid Man reference.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: