It's best to play Cave Story slightly ignorant of the fact that this isn't the first release of the game, and disregarding anything anyone might ever have told you about it already. Assembling the broken bits of it-goes-to-eleven Hyper Love that have been lavished on it by turds over the last five years will result only in the following, roughly stream of consciousness hatestream, paraphrased from my own: no i don't care about quirky graphics japanese chiptune pc pixel art indie game homebrew MOTHER SHIT GOD

No, it is best to approach Cave Story like a video game. That is what this is, have you heard? Alarmingly, it does not share traits with the advent of pre-sliced bread, it is not a plant that in full bloom blankets the ground with bacon like autumn leaves, it is not the all-top muffin. Taken on its own merits, may you accept the following, as I have: while playing Cave Story, you will move a little guy around some levels, collect weapons to blow up little creatures, engage in some occasionally tricky but rarely punishing platforming, and fight a lot of bosses. If you are determined, you can find a part of the game that is so hard that you won't likely beat it. Many of the characters are cute, some of the levels are pretty interesting, the music is fantastic, the story is imaginative but not exceedingly compelling, and you will get a handful of acceptable hours spent gaming for your ten bucks.

Oh yeah, also, it was made by one guy! Have you heard? If you have, it's worth disregarding that fact at first, only to notice it later, after you've gotten caught up in just playing—in the art of a mushroom in your inventory, the rhythm section of a catchy tune, the twinkle of a power-up. Cave Story is the work of a man from Japan, who by his own admission lives a relatively average life, takes care of his kids, rides his bike to work, and says he will never make another video game again. These hints of a person elevate the game from what would be a somewhat basic and adequately charming 8-bit homage to looking out the car window at someone whittling away at a stick on their porch. Words from a character you may meet in the game pour forth from his mind, telling you, as you are given an item he created, that there are not only two kinds of people in this world, but there are these kinds: those who will forever experience the creations of others, and those who will create. It is fun to think of him as you hop from block to block, in a way that it is not fun to experience the road beneath you in Burnout Paradise or consider the 3D model's head that you just blew off in Modern Warfare 2. It is fun because you can feel the touch of one person on the things you are experiencing, and consider the nights he must have spent at his computer desk, after supper, kids in the other room, typing in the code with a cup of tea because he wanted to bad enough.

In a similar way, you will touch the world you are hopping through, through one of a couple endings, and by doing a few different things via some occasionally Metroidian gameplay, with fewer of the movement options and backtracking than those games primarily offered. The paths to some of the different endings aren't all that fun to actually traverse, though the places they can take you are rewarding. The weapons you will get all have tangible uses, and can be powered up by grabbing little doodads that your defeated critters leave (though said weapons will lose bits of this power as you take damage).

It is worth mentioning that for the WiiWare release of this game, a group of people decided to "improve" the graphics and music, and by that I really mean they improved the graphics. The new sprites, rendered at twice the resolution of the original, still reflect the intent of their designer, and make the game look nicer on televisions. Playing the game without its original music, which is perfectly able to be passed through speakers, and did not need tinkering with, is taking an active step to favor the work of someone else over the work of the game's original creator, an act that feels a little disingenuous if, like me, you find part of the ultimate appeal the fact that we are indeed traipsing through the world of one guy. Also, the sound effects in the game are bizarrely, offensively loud, and in the case of the dropped powerups of the enemies, firmly set foot on the side of hellishly annoying and even disgusting. For the love of God, turn the effects to almost nothing before you even start.

It would be easy to either accept what I have told you about this game or disregard it entirely. Ultimately, you must act as one person, and I suggest you do a little of each. The things that everyone told me about the game prior to this Wii iteration did nothing but dissuade me from playing it, pushed me into cynicism, made me refuse to accept the work of another because I only knew of it what I had been told by others. In my case, by ultimately working up the wherewithal to ignore this barrier and place preconceptions aside, by allowing myself to pull up a chair and have the conversation for myself, I was able to have a nice time hopping on blocks in a cave. Maybe you will too!