Indie game news, reviews, previews and everything else concerning indie game development.

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Discussionware: What Is Your Favorite Indie Game? Which One Inspires You Most?

Last week I asked for your favorite developers and we got quite an eclectic mix of developers! It was really fascinating to see which developers were chosen and why. This week, however, I’m looking for your favorite indie game and which one inspires you most.


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Trailer: Cave Story 3DS


The classic pixelated epic Metroidvania, Cave Story, is being tarted up in shiny 3D for Nintendo’s shiny new handheld console, and here’s our first up close look at the game in action. We get to see how the new graphical style looks in motion, and get a feel for how it might play on the 3DS. Here it goes:

What do you reckon? Looks rather lovely to me, and a perfect excuse to play an old classic again. The HUD, camera movement and animation all look great, and I’m sure it will really suit handheld play. 2D platformers with nice backgrounds tend to work pretty well with the 3DS’s 3D effect too.

They mention that a classic mode is included “For fans of the original game”, so it’s nice to have the choice if you find yourself more in the mode for the classic 2D look. They only show the characters swapping for their original sprites in the trailer though, so it’s not yet clear if it includes the entire original game. Watch this space for clarification on that.

It’s out in the States on November 8th, and on the 11th across Europe.


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Enjoy This Wonderful Cave Story DSiWare Trailer

CaveStoryDSi001Cave Story is a great adventure platformer. I don’t think there’s a single person who can argue that point. It has an interesting plot line, interesting characters, and very solid platforming elements. For so many years it was hampered by being available strictly on the PC which, let’s be honest, isn’t exactly the best platform for a side scrolling platformer. Luckily for us there was a little-known developer called Nicalis that had grander plans for the game.

While Nicalis wasn’t the original creator of Cave Story, they were able to get permission to make both a WiiWare version (read our review) and now a DSiWare version. Portable Cave Story is a dangerous thing and it might be the first truly “must have” DSiWare game to get released.

A release date has not been set yet, but the game looks to be fairly far along which is encouraging. My guess is that it’s up to Nintendo to figure out when to release it.

Also, and this is a note to Nicalis, where’s the PSN version? I’d love to be able to play this game on my PSP, especially since I don’t have a DSi.

Trailer


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The Definitive Holiday Indie Game Release Guide

super-meat-boy-artworkAs the holidays get closer and closer there are, arguably, tons of games getting released. This is the time of year when all of the larger publishers’ heavyweights come into the ring to duke it out in a contest of marketing and publicity. But we don’t cover those games here, instead we focus on the little guys. While the big companies are unleashing hoards of money to get people to pay attention to their games and make sure you know when they are released, allow us to guide you through the indie releases for this upcoming holiday season… you know, so you don’t miss ‘em.

Comic Jumper – October 9th (XBLA)

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If you’re not already familiar with this game, or it’s amazing developer — Twisted Pixel — then, well, to be honest I’m not really sure if you can consider yourself a gamer at all given the sheer amount of excitement surrounding this game. This is Twisted Pixel’s third marquee title since they began developing their own original IPs which features a unique hero called Captain Smiley as he traverses 5 completely different and unique comic book worlds.

Who’s That Flying?! – October 12th (Playstation Minis)

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Who’s That Flying?! is the second premiere Playstation Minis title coming from famed indie developer Mediatonic who recently released Monsters (Probably) Stole My Princess for both the Playstation Minis and, later, Xbox Live Indie Games. Their new game is a side-scrolling shooter combined with a sort of tower defense game with some delicious courtroom drama thrown in for good measure. Sound awesome? That’s because it is.

Super Meat Boy – October 20th (XBLA)

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Where to even begin when describing Super Meat Boy? I mean it’s arguably the largest indie game to get released in 2010 and is absolutely going to be a success merely based on the quality gameplay, attention to detail, and the massive amounts of coverage the game has steadily been receiving since early this year. Now, in just under three weeks time we’ll finally be able to wrap our minds around everything that this challenging 2D platformer has to offer, which is far more than either of us know at this point.

Under Siege – November (PSN)

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Under Siege, by Seed Studios, is a brand new IP being brought to the Playstation Network that attempts to, once again, bring a playable RTS to the console atmosphere. Something that has only marginally been done by Halo Wars. The game comes with multiplayer, the ability to create and edit your own maps and, probably most importantly, Playstation Move support, something which I’m sure will make any RTS that much better.

Retro City Rampage – December (WiiWare)

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Retro City Rampage… there’s absolutely nothing to not love about this game. I mean, we gave it our Editor’s Choice award for PAX and that was against stiff competition like Super Meat Boy, and Bastion. Anyway the game is set to be released later this year onto the WiiWare. If you all have thought how awesome it would be to take the GTA styled gameplay and mix it with 8-bit graphics in a hilarious world that at every turn takes a jab at the video game industry then this game is for you. Don’t miss it.

Frobot – Q4 (WiiWare)

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Frobot, by Fugazo, is a game that we’ve been covering since last year and was actually intended for release earlier this year. However, after a complete redesign and recoding, Frobot is back, bigger than ever, and ready to go right upside your Wii’s head. The game features extensive Zelda-esque temple puzzle levels wrapped in a unique style. Obviously you play as a the Frobot who is attempting to complete these puzzles with a large and unique arsenal of weapons at your disposal. This is definitely one of the Wii’s premiere indie titles this year.

Raskulls – 2010 (XBLA)

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Raskulls, by Halfbrick, was a game that was also originally supposed to be out earlier this year but was, instead, pushed back to later this year. The game features unique platforming elements that are combined with a sort of racing game to almost give you a sort of Super Mari World meets Mario Kart feel to it. It’s a unique experience wrapped in a colorful/adorable style, in typical Halfbrick style.

Cave Story – 2010? (DSiWare)

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Chalk this one into the “maybe” pile, but, according to Nicalis, the next variation of the incredibly popular indie platformer Cave Story is due to land on the DSiWare sometime soon. While the developer hasn’t nailed down a final release date, they did say the game was in “final testing stages.” That being said, we can only assume the game would make it out sometime within the next three months. Unfortunately, there are no images or videos of this one. The above image is a painting commissioned by Nicalis.

Fowl Space – 2010? (PC)

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Fowl Space, by Pixelante, is another game that we covered quite extensively at PAX earlier this month. The game features a unique “Space Cock” character that is attempting to destroy the sun. While the game’s unique art style and sound gameplay mechanics are an instant draw, the real reason why you’ll be playing this game is due to all the comedic innuendo… dick jokes. While the game doesn’t have a solid release date just yet, the developer has said the game is nearing completion, and rumor has it the team is looking to sign a deal with Steam for release. If true we expect this game out fairly soon.

Until I’m Gone – 2010? (PC)

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Until I’m Gone, by Faraway Studios, is a unique 2.5D, third person point and click adventure that has horror and psychological subtext within. The game promises a unique story with an incredibly detailed style. And the best part? This is all going to be completely freeware upon release. The game was initially set top be released last year, but was instead pushed back to later this year. No solid release date has been offered but the developers assure us that it’s still coming.

So that’s it for the major indie games. Naturally, these aren’t all of the indie games getting released this holiday season, these are just the ones we could find that have solid or somewhat solid release schedules. There are tons of XBLIG, iOS, Android, PC, and browser indie games that absolutely will get released sometime with the next three months, so keep checking those channels for awesome games.

Did we miss one? Let us know in the comments so we can add it to the list! Please include a link to where we can find the release date.


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Cave Story Packing Up and Heading to DSiWare, WiiWare for Europe

CaveStorypainting

Everybody’s favorite indie platforming adventure romp, Cave Story, is heading to Nintendo’s own portable DSiWare digital download service. GoNintendo actually broke the story yesterday after they found an odd listing in the most recent issue of Nintendo Power concerning the game.Today, Nicalis has responded with the following information regarding the title, including it’s confirmation:

- Yes, there is a forthcoming Cave Story for DSiWare
- Yes, it’s really awesome and has Pixel’s blessing; he recently played it a few weeks back and loved it
- Yes, the EU version for WiiWare is still scheduled to be released; we commissioned Orioto to create this AWESOME Cave Story painting (above) in celebration of both: Bang Bang
- And the game is actually DONE, we’re currently in final testing internally

So, yeah, this kind of came out of nowhere, but is incredibly exciting nonetheless.

I tend to think of the DSiWare as kind of the step child of the mobile digital distribution channels so it’s actually really exciting for me that a game of this caliber is getting a mobile release. Now let’s just hope that Nicalis isn’t planning on stopping there. I’d love to see Cave Story on the PSP, iOS, Android, and whatever other digital download location so long as Pixel, the original developer, allows it.

[GoNintendo, Nicalis]


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Cave Story vs. Torchlight [Tournament]

CaveStoryvsTorchlightMiddle of the week match up!

But first, let’s update you on the most recent match up to have ended. It would appear that Love and effectively eliminated Adanaxis from moving onto the round of 16. Congratulations to Eskil and his incredibly creative MMO, Love.

OK, now onto today’s mega-match up I say mega-match up because the two games today are two of the biggest in the indie industry. It’s kind of a shame that they are competing against each other. Still though, the tournament must go on, so to say.

Up first, we have Cave Story, the brilliant exploratory platformer that has been the mainstay of indie gaming for years. This is typically, the indie game people refer to as a must-play for any platforming fan, and rightfully so. Cave Story is a great game, that’s both challenging and a lot of fun. There are few people who don’t like this game.

Up next, however, we have recent newcomer Torchlight. While not entirely innovative Torchlight has succeeded in being the best action RPG to have been released since Diablo 2 back in the mid 90′s. While it doesn’t feature any sort of online, like Diablo 2 did, the game was still lauded by gamers and critics alike, including our own review.

So which will it be? Famed platformer or famed action RPG? Only one can go to the next level!


Check out the Bracket!

Other Match-Ups running right now!

N vs. Minecraft
Braid vs. Runman: Race Around the World
World of Goo vs. Iji
Ben There, Dan That vs. Don’t Look Back


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Top 10 Indie Games that Should be Made Into Cartoons

Cartoon BraidLast week, Mega 64 released a hilarious new sketch, one that really speaks to us here at DIYgamer.com. It was simply titled Indie Films and it was about making full motion pictures films out of various indie games such as: Super Meat Boy, Today I Die, Rocketbirds, etc. While the sketch, itself, was really good, it also got me thinking. Maybe indie games aren’t necessarily going to make great films, but what about cartoons?

While Hollywood is only too happy with finding and securing the rights to the major multi-million dollar titles out there like Call of Duty, Metal Gear Solid, and World of Warcraft (seriously), I feel like there is an untapped market for creating children’s, or even adult (that that kind of adult, pervert), cartoons out of some of the great indie games out there today.

I mean, look at it this way, many popular indie games rely on cartoon-ish graphics already, usually featuring some cutesy character, and are almost always fun to watch/play. I’m telling you, kids would eat these shows up just as much as they do their Saturday morning cereal. Mmmmm Kix.

So here are my top ten games I’d love to see made into some sort of animated cartoon.

10.Cave Story

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Now don’t get your knickers in a knot simply because Cave Story is so low on this list, where as with most other indie games lists it’s at the top. Cave Story is still very well suited for a cartoon series, but more than likely a kids show, which is fine (I do enjoy me some Spongebob every once in a while), but ultimately not that exciting.

[Cave Story]

9. La Mulana

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This is in a similar vein as Cave Story, but with one added feature, the main character is basically Indiana Jones without actually being Indiana Jones, which immediately makes it infinitely more intriguing to watch. As an added bonus, to make it a hilarious adult cartoon, the show could be literally based on the game where, in every single episode, Lemeza (the main character) would die at the end… because that game is freaking impossible.

Alternative titles: Spelunky.

[La Mulana]

8. World of Goo

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I don’t know how, and I don’t know why exactly, but you look at World of Goo and tell me that it’s not already completely adaptable to being made into a cartoon. I mean, come on the goo-blobs are adorable! I suppose the hard part would be actually coming up with a story based on them because, if you’ll remember correctly, the game didn’t really feature one.

[World of Goo]

7. Runman: Race Around the World

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Parents, and the government, are always complaining about children who are sitting at home playing video games or watching cartoons on the boobtube. Well, why not speak to the children with something they’ll actually pay attention to? And what better vassal to speak to them through than Runman, the extremely excitable running star that, literally, races all around the world just for the hell of it. Perhaps it’ll get the message through to the children, or make them just want to play the game, whatever.

[Runman: Race Around the World]

6. Trine

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Talk about epic, is there a better game to make an epic cartoon out of than Trine? I think not. It also doesn’t hurt that the game ends right where the cartoon can begin. Trine was a beautifully imagined indie game and, provided they use a similar illustration style, the cartoon can be just as amazing. Children’s cartoon or not, I’d watch this.

[Trine]

5. The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom

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Do I even really need to offer an argument or explanation for this one. This game is about a time manipulating, pie thief! Come on! It practically writes hilarious scripts all by itself. The only reason why I didn’t place it higher is because I’m not exactly sure how well a black and white cartoon would go over with either children or adults. Still though, I’d say it’d at least be an interesting ride.

[Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom]

4. Ben There, Dan That

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I have trouble not smiling about a cartoon comedy based on this game, but only, and I do mean only, if the original creators Ben Ward and Dan Marshall are brought on board to write/direct. Otherwise who knows what it could turn into. Still though, the thought of this time and space traveling duo on Comedy Central, or Adult Swim is incredibly exciting.

[Ben There, Dan That]

3. Plain Sight

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Two words: Robot Ninjas. Sure, there’s no story and really no purpose to the game other than scoring points, but if you can successfully translate these guys into a story that still encompasses their robot ninja-ness while at the same time continuing to make them suicidal, well that… that would be just the best thing ever.

[Plain Sight]

2. ‘Splosion Man

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You’ve GOT to agree with me on this one. I mean, first, the game looks like it was created by Pixar already. Second, you look at ‘Splosion Man and tell me he’s not just the most creative and memorable character ever imagined. Tie all that into a hilarious cartoon and you have an instant success. Children or adult’s cartoon, I’d watch it.

['Splosion Man]

1. Machinarium

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And Machinarium takes another top spot on a list, but in this one it’s only because the story was so well played out and the animations so elaborately done that, for me, Machinarium makes the most sense to turn into an animated cartoon. Sure, it probably wouldn’t attract the largest audience, and children probably wouldn’t enjoy the macabre colors, but if they could create a successful retelling of the game, or even a series on what happens after I’d be completely overjoyed.

[Machinarium]

Honorable Mentions:

Super Meat Boy, Joe Danger,  and Braid. The former two games didn’t make the list because, well, I haven’t played them yet. The latter because the game’s story was far too abstract for even many adults to comprehend. Still, I imagine, with the write direction, each could be fairly entertaining in their own right.

Did I miss a game you thought would make a great cartoon? Let me know in the comments, or rant about it in our forums!

Spring Cleaning Contest!

Did you know we are running a kickass forum contest where you could win a copy of Machinarium, Shattered Horizon, or Aaaaa! A Reckless Disregard for Gravity?

Check it out!


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Into the Rabbit Hole Once Again… Cave Story [WiiWare Review]

CaveStory000There’s a lot to be said for an indie game such as Cave Story on WiiWare. On one hand, it’s a game thats so good that it’s almost impossible to find any faults with it, on the other hand, however, it’s hard to justify buying a game for $15 when it’s just as easily downloaded for free — legally — on the PC. Still though, Cave Story on the Wii is an interesting idea, to say the least, given that it’s one of the most beloved indie games to have ever been released.

But we’ll tackle some of that stuff later in the actual review. Right now, I want to revisit the game itself, and what it’s about. As I’m sure there are many of you who will read this who’ve played Cave Story before, there will also be those of you who have never heard of Cave Story before, perhaps average gamers who just haven’t been involved in the indie world enough to really know what Cave Story is.

Cave Story is a unique game. I’d liken it to many Metroidvania’s out there (yes, I understand there are those that disagree with that statement) in that the game is not entirely linear and you’re relatively left to your own devices to figure out where to go next.

Anyway, the game starts out with you, an amnesiac boy, waking up in a cave. From there you get entangled in the lives of the strife-ridden Mimigas who find themselves at the cruel hands of an, almost, omnipotent “Doctor” who threatens their very lives. In attempting to find away to get back home — or even discover who you are — you begin helping the Mimigas in a struggle against the Doctor and his minions.

Finally, I’d be remised if I didn’t say this before hand, Cave Story is really fun. It’s a damn good game that everybody should play. The only question with regards to the review is: is it worth $15 on the WiiWare or are you better off served playing the free PC version? Let’s find out.

Gameplay

CaveStory

As stated above Cave Story is a very exploration-based game. Maybe not as much as, say, Metroid, but it’s not linear in the least bit. You’re basically thrown into a game with a loose set of goals based on who you talk to. As the game goes on this focuses a bit here and there, but, overwhelmingly, you’ll be left to your own devices to find your way. This, in my opinion, is a brilliant device for a game simply titled Cave Story.

Additionally, the game relies on a weapon/level combination system for determining how strong your character is. The game has approx. 6 different weapons (can’t remember the exact number off the top of my head, but it makes no difference either way) and each weapon has a total of three levels. You gain a weapons level by collecting little triangle chips — I call em mini-triforces — that fall out of enemies when you kill them. Depending on which weapon you have equipped will determine what weapon receives a level up. For each level weapon will grow bigger, stronger, and more advanced (for example the fireball weapon will grow from a small fireball that can be shot twice to an advanced blue fireball that can be shot four times in a row with a longer range that does more damage). It’s a really good system of leveling and character progression.

Of course, the bad side of this is that if you get hurt, depending on what weapon your carrying, you’ll lose levels on that weapon. It can make things especially challenging if you are fighting a boss and all of your weapons get neutered down to level 1 where you’ll be at a serious disadvantage. Still though, it provides an interesting perspective and requires the player to more carefully think about his actions and what weapon he is going to use before heading off into a fight.

Beyond weapon leveling your character can also find and pick up various health canisters which will, permanently, increase the player’s health. It’s sort of a similar system to that of Metroid’s health packs or Zelda’s hearts. You find em and your health increases. As such you can sustain more damage. Really, it’s just more character progression, but it works well enough for the game.

Now I know what you’re thinking, so all this stuff  is great, but what about the monsters/bosses/challenges? Well, for those who haven’t played Cave Story I’d say you’re in for a relative treat. While the game’s baddies are relatively average, generally just changing colors or small variations to make a new one (i.e. blue slime, green slime, dark grey slime) they’re still fairly challenging and the game makes no qualms about throwing a bunch at you at the same time.

Likewise, the game’s bosses are varied enough to always make the game feel fresh. Although, that said, to kill each boss is only a matter of learning a fairly simple pattern. If you understand what the boss is gonna do and when he is gonna do it you’ll have no problem with almost any boss in the game. From my experience with both the PC and WiiWare versions there is almost no deviating from the pattern.

Aside from the primary story, the WiiWare graces gamer’s with a few extras not found in the PC version. First, you have the Sanctuary time trial. This is basically a level where you get a few weapons and health and must procede to complete a very hard level in you’re fastest time. It’s fairly straight forward and to the point. The next mode is a similar time trial, only this time it’s to beat all of the game’s bosses. If you die even once you’ll have to start over from the beginning. The last WiiWare exclusive is to play the game entirely as Curly, a character that you’ll meet in the main game. Nothing changes, from what I played, aside from the fact that you are Curly. All are nice extras but…

The one problem I had with the Sanctuary time trial was that each and  every time you restarted the game you had to “gear” up. While this may sound like a lame complaint, I assure you that after the fourth or fifth time attempting this you’ll be considerably bored of the first part of the level where you just need to collect your weapons and health. I honestly don’t know why the game didn’t just automatically include them all, or at least allow you to streamline the process a bit more.

Finally, and this is only a small point, but it needs to be said regardless, playing on your couch with a Wii Classic Controller, on the big screen is a nice improvement over the PC controls. For those of us without HTPCs or PC game controllers, the WiiWare version is absolutely the most comfortable way to experience Cave Story, even if you’re a die hard PC fan.

Style

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Now this is a big point of contention for the WiiWare version of Cave Story of the freebie PC version. This is, arguably, the primary selling point for this version. I am, of course, talking about the game’s updated graphics. Unfortunately, for those who are dying to know if they are spectacular or not, I’m gonna have to say the latter. All in all, the game’s updated graphics are little improvement over the original and, ultimately, fell short of my own expectations. The WiiWare version really just smooths out the pixelation of the PC version, nothing more.

The music, on the other hand, is more indicative what I was expecting. It sounds far better than the original PC version. On top of that even, the music is just damn catchy. It’s immediate from the the first song in the game’s menu system. Cave Story’s music is truly a great set piece for the game and one that only enhances the game’s appeal.

Story

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Needless to say, Cave Story has a unique storyline attached to it. It’s starts off generic enough — another amnesiac story? Really? — but it quickly gets off to a faster pace as you’re thrust into a world with unique creatures and a unique cast of enemies. While the story may not be the most unique, it certainly doesn’t feel bland or stale in the slightest. Newcomers to the game should be pleasantly surprised.

Everything Else

There’s really not much else to Cave Story. There’s no multiplayer component (local or online) and there’s nothing that really expands the game beyond the original in terms of main story gameplay.

So this leads me back to my original question. Is Cave Story worth the$15 price or are you better off served getting the free PC version? Well, in all honesty, I think that really depends on you. If you’re somebody who absolutely loved the original version and only want to expand on what you’ve already experienced then, yeah, you’ll probably enjoy the new version. If you’re a newcomer to the series who may just want to experience the game, or “try” before you buy, I’d suggest checking out the PC version first. In my personal opinion, I’d say that a game such as Cave Story is more than worth the $15. If there wasn’t already a free PC version then there’d be no question as to whether you should buy it or not.


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Cave Story Appears on WiiWare

Cave Story Wii Cave Story is now available on WiiWare. It is 1,200 points. It is worth it.

Even without the graphic facelift and new music, it would be worth the $12 those points translate into. That is all you really need to know.

When I think of indie games, Cave Story is what comes to mind. It’s the ideal for me. And not because of the retro graphics or the great controls or the weird world the strange characters inhabit or the fact that it costs nothing. It’s the way the game was developed. A passion project by one developer in his spare time over the course of however long he felt the game needed.

That idea, that this slice of gaming perfection could come from one person is what got me to think about games in the same way I thought of music. That they could be DIY. I was part of some combination of the punk, ska and hardcore scenes at one point or another over the past decade. What attracted me to those genres of music, especially at that time, was that the bands that made music that they wanted to hear. That drive makes for a much more interesting sound. And a much more interesting game.

The changes Nicalis has made to Cave Story aren’t likely to change the core of the game. They treated the author with reverence, something Pixel still seems surprised by. This game opened my eyes and, if you haven’t had a chance to play it yet, now is as good a time as any to start. If you don’t own a Wii, the game is still spectacular on PC, Mac Linux and hacked PSPs.


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The Nintendo Channel Talks to Pixel about Cave Story

Cave Story, Art by Sam Miller Cave Story is finally being released on WiiWare next week, so The Nintendo Channel talked to the port’s producer, Tyrone Rodriguez, and the game’s creator, Daisuke Amaya, better know among Cave Story fans as Pixel. Pixel explains where Balrog came from and what he hopes new players get out of the game.

The interview is pretty amusing, in part because Pixel still seems incredulous about the fact that his game is going to be on a modern day console. And I think it is doubly interesting for anyone else who’s played through the game recently, as I’m sure I’m not the only person who went through the Cave Story again in anticipation of the WiiWare release.

Watch the video below.

[via Nicalis]