Showing posts with label NXEngine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label NXEngine. Show all posts

Cave Story: The Dreamcast's Subterranean Gem

What's in a name? Quite a bit, actually. While some games available for the Dreamcast have pretty descriptive titles - Crazy Taxi, for example - others are sure to leave uninitiated gamers scratching their heads in confusion. Blue Stinger. Giant Killers. Cannon Spike. These are but a trio of games with titles that really don't give any hint as to the experience contained on the GD. Cave Story though? Well, just like the game that involves driving a cab around in a fairly unorthodox manner, the title of this particular piece of software perfectly sums up what the game is all about. You go on an a cave. Simple. But what even is Cave Story? And when the heck did this game appear on the Dreamcast? Grab your head torches and guide ropes, and I'll explain.
See, Cave Story is a side-scrolling, rogue-like platform adventure set in a labyrinthine complex of weird and wonderful caves. There are hit points, NPCs to interactive with, fetch quests to embark upon, and all manner of weird enemies to engage in combat with; and the whole game has a charming pixel art style which is complimented by an outstanding chip tune soundtrack. The origins of Cave Story make for an interesting read, with the initial PC release coming in 2004. Since then developer Daisuke Amaya has gone on to create a plethora of critically acclaimed games; and Cave Story has been ported to an astonishing range of systems, one of which just happens to be the good old Dreamcast. The Dreamcast port came in 2013 thanks to the work of programmer 'histat,' when Cave Story's NXEngine was completely re-written specifically for Sega's hardware and a couple of variations of the game were released in different flavours. Namely as an SD card ISO file, and as a burnable disc image.
I have to be honest, when Cave Story came to the Dreamcast in 2013 I didn't really give it much attention and dismissed it - wrongly - as just another crappy-looking homebrew game. So what changed between then and now? Well, firstly I'm no longer an idiot (allegedly); and secondly the recent rise in popularity of games with a distinctly 8 or 16-bit visual aesthetic has really made me appreciate this style of game a lot more than I probably did in the past. Thirdly - and most importantly - I recently spotted a physical, boxed copy of Cave Story on eBay for less than the price of a trip to the cinema, so I jumped at the chance to own it.
The copy I have acquired is clearly the work of a dedicated Dreamcast fan who also happens to own a decent printer and a had a spare PAL game case to hand. There's no manual, but the CD does have some nice bespoke artwork and the front and back covers could easily pass for a proper retail release. Even though the game is actually free to download, the fact that the work of putting it into a case and adding disc art had already been done made the nominal fee a price worth paying...