GR: The sound quality of the original is very evocative of the exact style of some of the best moments of the 8-bit period. Are you going to be trying to retain any of that 8-bit flair, or are we going to hear more modern instruments to go with the new look?
TR: We actually gave it a shot, a couple of sort-of proof-of-concepts when we were initially doing the music, to see if we could go orchestral, or if we could go really modern. And it sounds OK. But I think, really, for Cave Story, and for what people are expecting, and for the type of game it is, even though we’re going for 3D, we need to make sure that we have that sense of 8-bitness, even though it’s a little bit more modern. So once you start to hear some of the tunes, I think you’ll realize that it definitely feels like it’s falling into place. Daisuke’s gone over some of the music, so maybe he wants to chime in on what he thinks about the music so far.
Above: Concept art for Cave Story's heroine, Curly Brace
DA: I feel that, for a videogame, half the game is basically the music. So music is a very important factor for the game itself. For the original Cave Story, I was creating music for it, but I didn’t want to use instruments that I don’t know how to use. Instruments that I know how to use, I’ll incorporate and try to make music out of it, and try to make it as simple as possible so that it’ll match the game. And for Cave Story 3D, obviously the older 8-bit music probably won’t match as well, so I’m asking the team to build upon the original and then create the new music for me. That’s what’s going on right now.
What’s really tough is, unlike drawing pictures – which is easier to adjust and fix – music is a lot tougher, because when you adjust a certain part of the song, you have to arrange the rest of the music and make it balance. But asking the composer to change that is a really tough process, because it’s not like a picture, you can’t visually see it. You have to go back and forth…
Above: Concept art for the redesigned Mimiga Village area
Above: The original Mimiga Village area
GR: It seems like the sort of thing where if you pull one thread the whole thing starts to unravel, and now you have to start over again.
DA: Exactly. That’s the toughest part right now.
GR: If this does well, do you see yourself working on handheld ports for your other games, like Ikachan and Guxt, down the road?
DA: Right now, I’m just thinking about Cave Story, so it’s hard to say. But if I can make something interesting and fun, I’d love to work on a different port as well.
GR: How do you feel about how much popularity Cave Story has gained over the years? It was kind of a slow burn, because the PC game was several years ago, and then it’s slowly grown more and more over the years. Did you have any idea it would resonate with people so much, that everyone would go “that is just like a new-old game that maintains all the charm and all the things we love, and it’s not nostalgia, it’s just really good?” Are you surprised by how much it took off, or were you just like, “I made this game, here you go, have fun with it?”
DA: I’m really surprised and excited. When I was making the original Cave Story, I was very lonely making the game, but I was always imagining people being happy playing my game that took me forever to create. As it spread out onto Wii and DS, I wasn’t expecting it to be so big. When I was originally making it, I was gearing it toward the Japanese hardcore gamer audience, and once it went worldwide, I really was surprised to see that western gamers embraced Cave Story. That was just astonishing for me. Everything is just a continuous surprise for me, because it’s moving onto the 3DS platform, and I wasn’t expecting that at all. Every day is a totally new surprise to me.
Above: Concept art for Igor, the mutated Mimiga
GR: I was first introduced to Cave Story late last year, and within the first 10 minutes, I loved it immediately. It just got that old feel right.
DA: Do you like classic, retro-style games?
GR: Oh, absolutely. It reminded me right away of Metroid and Blaster Master, and things like that.
DA: Thank you for liking the game. What’s really surprising for me is that, when I was getting fan letters from various users, I realized the game isn’t just for older generations like me – it’s also being embraced by younger video gamers out there. That was one of the biggest surprises I had this time. When it comes out for the 3DS, it’s going to be open to wider audiences, and hopefully those new gamers will like Cave Story.
Above: Concept art for Misery, one of Cave Story's villains
GR: The DSiWare version… well, it was DSiWare, whereas this is going to be a boxed retail copy. Is this the first time it’s been at retail?
TR: Right, yeah. This’ll be the first time that you’ll be able to purchase it as a physical item.