It's official: Cave Story, the 2D indie darling that started life as a free PC game in 2004, is headed to the 3DS this summer. And not as a downloadable, depth-of-field-enabled version of itself, either – Cave Story 3D, announced today by publisher NIS America, will be a full-fledged remake of the original, with new content, character designs and fully 3D visuals. To get the full story, GR editors Mikel Reparaz and Brett Elston were privileged to sit down with Cave Story's creator, Daisuke "Pixel" Amaya (who developed the original by himself, and whose website features lots of cool, free stuff), and its producer/music director Tyrone Rodriguez, to talk about Cave Story, the 3DS and what exactly drives a man to spend five years creating a massive, retro-styled adventure.
Above, from left: NIS America producer/interpreter Jack Niida, Tyrone Rodriguez, Daisuke Amaya, GR Senior Editor Mikel Reparaz and GR Executive Editor Brett Elston
GR: What exactly is going to be different in Cave Story 3D?
Daisuke Amaya: The difference between the original Cave Story and Cave Story 3D is going to be the environments are going to be in full 3D, but we will keep the original style of the game, which is a 2D scrolling action game.
GR: So it’ll be 2D gameplay, but the character models and levels are now polygons?
Tyrone Rodriguez: Right, yeah. We’ve gone to a level of detail that probably is unheard of compared to what we did for the original WiiWare version. And now, as you said, you’ll see characters are fully 3D. The main character’s really cute – he’s got a scarf, he’s got this really great hat, and we’ve modeled him, along with the accompanying cast, as well as the enemies. The weapons are in full 3D, all the items, everything you see in the world has this level of depth that you’ll be able to really utilize with the 3DS’s stereoscopics.
Above: The first screenshot of Cave Story's starting area
GR: Is this primarily based off the WiiWare version of the game, or is there added content, or any differences that you can talk about yet?
TR: Primarily, this is based off of the original game. In a way, it’s almost like a true 3D remake from scratch. So we’ve added a couple of things that Daisuke and I have gone over, as far as some secrets and some Easter eggs that are going to make some of the original fans really happy, and it’ll also add some longevity for the game for anybody who’s playing it, and sees these grand new areas that we’re adding, as well.
GR: How closely has Daisuke been involved in creating the new version? Have you been very hands-on, or have you been more of a consultant?
DA: When I’m working on Cave Story 3D, many of the concept designs, characters and things like that will be pitched over to me. And I’ll go over it and direct the overall game development process. And then if there’s something I’d like to add, like a character design or something new, I’ll actually draw it out by myself and pitch it back over to the team.
Above: Concept art for the new design of Quote, Cave Story's hero
GR: Are you surprised by the difference of the process from when it was almost all your project, and now you’re supervising it as Cave Story has grown and gained popularity? How has that process changed for you?
DA: It’s completely different from what I used to be doing, creating my own Cave Story. Now I’m working with a big team, so the process is completely different. Before, I was able to sort of draw it out, create on my own, and then go back and forth between trial and error. But now it’s a little different, so I have to sort of rely on everybody, the entire team, on how to create this game, how to design it. Especially for character design – I need to rely on the actual designer for how to create these new characters. And the process is a lot different, but it’s rewarding because I can approach it in a different way, and think about how I can extract the full potential out from the designers. And that’s one of the exciting parts…
DA: Exactly. What’s really fun about both the Wii version and this latest 3DS version is being able to work with other designers and people. Before, I was working on everything alone, and it’s pretty lonely out there, doing all the computer programming and everything.
Above: Concept art of the redesigned starting area
Above: The original 2D starting area
GR: Yeah, if it’s all on your shoulders…
DA: Exactly. And now that I’m able to work with this team, I’m having a lot more fun with it.
GR: Are you still able to find time for your own projects, or are you sidelining them while you work on Cave Story 3DS (and, presumably, other Nicalis projects)?
DA: Since I’ve been able to work with Nicalis, I’ve got a little more time on the side. So I am working on a project, an original new game, but nothing’s really done or prepared yet. So I can’t announce it yet, but as time goes by, I’ll slowly release it on my web page.
Above: An artsy fact sheet for Cave Story 3D
GR: There seems to be an enormous fan scene that’s sprung up specifically around Cave Story’s music. Can you talk a little about how you’re handling it for the 3DS?
TR: For the music… it’s a pretty big undertaking. I think when fans associate with Cave Story, a big part of it is the music. Without giving any spoilers for new fans, you think of a level, and you hear music in it – Daisuke and I were actually talking about this on the way here – music can really spawn memories, for good or for bad. You hear a song, and it’s not just a song, but it’s what you remember about it. So we’re very cautious about what we’re doing.
We’re going to be announcing who we’re using, it’s a very good composer, for the 3DS version. But we’ll be announcing that at a later time. And what we’re doing is similar to what we do with Daisuke for the artwork, and for the design, and for the creation. We go back and forth. The composer will initially create a new remix of one of the original tunes, we’ll get it, we’ll take a look at it. I’ll initially vet some of it, so if I think, “oh, Daisuke’s probably not going to like this, or he’s going to want to change this,” I’ll give him some feedback, and what we’ll end up doing is, we’ll get two versions of a song over to Daisuke, and say “which one do you like? Here’s the original one he did, here’s the feedback I gave him, and here’s the remix.”
Above: Concept art of a Life Capsule
Daisuke’s very specific about how he sees the music. He composed all of it originally, so I want to make sure that… if he’s happy with the new music, I’m pretty sure that the fans are going to be happy. Because it’ll have his stamp of approval, but it’ll also have his personality imbued into the music.