This post continues a series on the design of Cave Story from start to finish. For your convenience, the prior parts are linked above—I’d recommend reading them before continuing. With that out of the way, let’s get moving!
The Outer Wall is a massive area, but it doesn’t really feel like it unless we take a look at the map. Despite its size, the entire area presents itself one step at a time. It’s always about getting to that next platform, then assessing the situation and moving forward again.
With as many mobility options as the player could have by now—the Machine Gun and each of the Boosters with their unique abilities—the Outer Wall has plenty of ways to maneuver from step to step. Unlike the destroyed Egg Corridor, this area can’t quite be traversed if the player doesn’t have one of the three, but it remains past a point that the player is guaranteed to have a Booster. If they do happen to fall to the bottom without one, they could go back through the Egg Corridor and reach the teleporter in Arthur’s House, so they can’t get stuck.
The Plantation is the most wide open area in Cave Story, and it has plenty of room for exploration as a result.
The most obvious reward for it is the Life Capsule in the upper left corner, but a bit more exploration reveals some connections to later areas. Save the aforementioned Life Capsule, the area is traversable without the Booster as well—and a pipe ensures that the player can’t get stuck underwater.
The entire area is laid out in such a way that it guides the player through the important information naturally. The bridge leads them to the left, which gets them to the cave the Mimiga are living in to talk to Kanpachi, the fisherman. He goes down to the lake to fish, and heading down leads first to the side area where Curly is, then to him, and onward to the teleporter room. Additionally, proceeding left farther than the Mimiga cave leads up to the Life Capsule. It flows in a natural order that fits the sequence of events required to proceed.
That’s a wrap for the Plantation. Join me back here in a couple of weeks when we continue to the last legs of the journey!