Cave Story, if you never played it before, has the feeling of a Metroid game. The caves Quote runs and jumps in have an inviting feel that encourage players to explore further.
"First and foremost, I always put myself in the player’s shoes. ‘If I were a player how would I think of this? How would I explore?’ and then I take another step," Daisuke "Pixel" Amaya explained when we were reflecting on level design. "After I complete a section I play through it, but if I don’t like it sometimes I would scrap the entire idea."
Cave Story began development ten years ago, long before thousands of people knew what Mimiga Village was. I asked Amaya what he would do differently if he made Cave Story today. He replied with major spoilers, so at Amaya’s request you will need to highlight text to read it.
"If I could change something, if you played a certain way you could, at least, have an option to save other characters such as Toroko," Amaya said. Amaya mentioned players can rescue Curly Brace if they follow a specific chain of events.
"For Curly, I think probably 90% of people who play through Cave Story the first time through they would get the normal ending. When we’ve discussed this the real ending is the hard ending, where you end up going to Blood-stained Sanctuary," Tyrone Rodriguez, Producer, clarified. "There are a bunch of dependencies, you have to do this, you have to do that, but if you miss one you’re out of luck and you don’t get to save Curly."
I thought Amaya’s reply was interesting since some of the character deaths add soul to Cave Story’s story. I compared it to Aerith dying in Final Fantasy VII, as a reason why the game became memorable for fans. Amaya replied, "Yes, that is understandable."
Moving back to present day, Amaya and I discussed his current projects. I asked, "How is the RPG in development going?" Amaya mentioned he was working on a RPG last year, but hasn’t said much about it. "That project has been halted, as of now. I’m creating a game similar to Ikachan! and Cave Story for the iPhone."
What about a sequel to the critically acclaimed Cave Story? "When I first created Cave Story I thought of it as my very last game ever. As I started creating it, I started to gain ideas about more things I would like to create. It’s been that way for ten years. At times, I want to get away from it because I don’t feel I have a lot of new ideas, but I still am considering it."
In other interviews Amaya mentioned games he played when he was a child such as Metroid and Super Metroid inspired him to create Cave Story. Looking at modern games, I asked Amaya what games would inspire him if he were a child today. Amaya thought about the question for quite sometime before responding. "Nowadays, games are amazing. Many people play and enjoy them, but many not feel inspired to create something new. If I had to choose, since I like 2D games I would like to make more 2D games."