Daisuke ‘Pixel’ Amaya, the creator of the original Cave Story, worked on the game for five years before releasing it as freeware in 2004. The game is a deeply charming, tough and imaginative Metroidvania-style adventure that ever since release has been something of an indie touchstone: a great example of what one person can achieve by making exactly the game they want to make.
Cave Story’s structure is one of its great pleasures: it features five aesthetically and mechanically distinct environments, plus various hubs and mini-zones, and runs players back-and-forth across them with notable changes. This is not the first attempt at a remix, but now a group of developers have picked up Cave Story and changed it up so you can play the indie darling as a roguelike.
Going by the name Doukutsu Randamu the Cave Story roguelike is of course free, as with the original game, and has 23 different layouts and settings “each with its own generation and gimmicks!” Each run has ten layers to descend through, with a boss spawned every two layers (and Cave Story’s bosses are the business) and the “old enemy” at the bottom.
The roguelike doesn’t just remix the original, but adds new items, mechanics, and original music, as well as different difficulty settings. You can also manually enter seeds for specific challenge runs, and there are 20 different characters with their own abilities to choose between.
Cave Story is a belter, and the reason it’s continually found new audiences over the years is that—as well as being a pretty touching game (if you know, you know)—it feels fabulous in the hands even now. It always had this slight roguelike feel to it, despite being a beautifully handcrafted adventure, and it feels entirely appropriate that fans of the game have given that expression here.