Let’s Analyze: A Thorough Look at Cave Story – Part 2

This post continues a series taking a deep dive into the design of Cave Story, from level design to narrative design and everything in between. If you missed the first part, check it out here before continuing.

So the Egg Corridor starts us off with a lone robot in an upper room and a Life Capsule visible at the bottom of the screen. Both the presence of the Life Capsule and the words of the robot point out a defining feature of the area, and a consistent obstacle to avoid throughout: Basil, your friendly neighborhood spiky shockwave hedgehog being of death.

Basil is cute, but don’t be deceived: a single touch from this adorable shockwave will cause instant death.

Basil is there to discourage the low road, which otherwise would be a rather easy path through the area. However, the player also can’t completely bypass it, as the Basil-realm is a necessary part of the path to Igor, both to obtain and to utilize the key card. Basil paces back and forth, far from an insurmountable obstacle, but one with little room for error. Did I structure that paragraph just to see how many times I could say “Basil?” Maybe. Moving on.

The elephant in the corridor is the first thing we know about the place: Eggs. The place is full to the brim with them, they’re in the name, and they’re absolutely gigantic underfoot. All this makes them very evident to the player as they progress through the corridor. Though they may start to fade into the background, the gaps in the containment chambers around eggs 1, 2, and 6 are enough to spark a bit of curiosity—that is, if they’re willing to brave the Basil-realm.

Even if some of the eggs aren’t completely contained, Basil makes for a powerful deterrent against any prospective intruders.

On the off chance that it wasn’t enough, the computers in the Egg Observation Room make evident the bad eggs in the bunch. When they walk past them, the monitors light up—clearly indicating the status of the associated egg just by color—and make a sound to draw attention. While not absolute guarantees, they put the pieces in place for the player to find their way to the necessary eggs, one way or another.

Notably, the monitors for eggs 1 and 6 (on the bottom row) are both a vibrant red, even when the flickering text isn’t visible.

Next, we have Igor. The second boss fight in the game and the first required one, and both he and his arena lend themselves to a merciful battle. The arena is wide—wider than the screen can display in the original version of the game—and open enough to allow for plenty of maneuverability. Igor himself has a rather simple pattern. At first, he approaches and will either jump or punch, depending on how far away the player is. After his health gets low, he backs off every so often to spew energy orbs, which fan out quickly but can be destroyed by player attacks. In addition, large as he looks, Igor actually doesn’t have an active hitbox while he’s standing still, which makes him more merciful than he appears to an unfamiliar player.

  • Widescreen versions of the game can display the whole arena, but it's wide and almost entirely flat—nothing distracts from the fight.

The final thing I want to mention is how the Egg Corridor is designed to be a streamlined area for backtracking. The journey back is faster than the journey to the end, and while some of this can be explained by no longer needing side paths, the platforming is built for a faster trip one way than the other. A couple of examples include both sides of the Egg Observation Room, where the platforms are arranged to allow multiple routes to the left and only one easy path to the right, and around egg seven, where the jumps necessary to get back are much faster than those to get through in the first place.

  • Coming back from the right, it's far quicker to jump over the top, but more options are available.

That concludes this next step in the journey—a shorter one this time, since the Egg Corridor is a linear area the player must traverse both ways in its entirety. Check back in a couple of weeks for a look at the next area in the game, the Bushlands. 

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