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Cover Story: 1UP's Assassin's Creed Week

Gaming is an expensive habit. Sure, there are some of you out there who can take your games responsibly and in moderation, but how many more of us sacked out on the sidewalk in the rain before PS2 launch day or raided our sister's piggy bank for the last couple bucks we needed for a copy of Bloodfist 4: The Quickening? Yeah, some of us can take it or leave it, but some of us need it every day. Sooner or later the lifestyle of fast cars, beautiful women and rampaging alien bounty hunters from the future is going to catch up with us. When all our friends have given up and we've pawned everything we own except for that copy of Superman 64 that nobody will take, what will we have left? Are we all going to die, cold and alone, clutching controllers to our shrunken, space invader tattooed chests? Maybe it doesn't have to be that way. Save that last dollar. Buy yourself a cup of coffee. I can get you a fix, and it won't cost you a thing....

Doukutsu Monogatari: Tale of the Cave

Compared to other genres, there have never been an awful lot of commercial side-scrolling adventure-RPGs around, and independent games of the kind are practically unheard of. While shooters, fighting, and puzzle games have a die-hard fan base of homebrewers who produce them practically by the case, Metroidvania-style adventure games don't see nearly as much exposure.

Maybe it's the extensive forethought involved in crafting a huge, interconnected world that scares people away. Or maybe it's the sheer volume of art, music, and scripting necessary to realize a world once it's been planned that intimidates indy gamemakers. Or maybe the games aren't as much fun to make as they are to play. Whatever the reason, there just aren't a lot of them out there, and of those few, not many can keep a player occupied for more than a few hours.

Then there's a game like Doukutsu Monogatari, or Cave Story, which is so massive that it rivals modern GBA Castlevania and Metroid games in terms of scope and play time. As I write this column, I've been playing for almost 24 hours straight without managing to completely uncover all its secrets.

The game puts you in the shoes of an amnesiac soldier as he tries to escape the caverns of a flying island while aiding lagomorphic creatures called mimigas. Along the way, he acquires a formidable arsenal and meets a colorful cast of enemies and allies. Energy capsules hidden throughout the island will improve his durability, while weapon energy dropped by enemies can be collected to increase the effectiveness of his armaments.

Each of the game's distinct areas has energetic music to match its theme, and the game's chiptunes will probably inspire a twinge of nostalgia in any PC-Engine owners. The graphics won't wow anyone who judges them by modern commercial standards, but they are attractive, and nobody will feel that they need to look past them to appreciate the game.

Doukutsu Monogatari was made by a guy who calls himself Pixel (http://hp.vector.co.jp/authors/VA022293/) and was released only about a month ago. It very quickly became popular in cheapskate gaming circles, and it only took a few weeks for people to make not only a Mac version, but a patch to convert all of the game's text to English.

Because the game is so new, I didn't have any luck turning up a walkthrough or FAQ for it, so I took the liberty of writing one myself. It doesn't uncover absolutely everything, but it should be more than enough to get you past any sticking places and even help you uncover the game's hardest ending. Drop me an email if you notice any errors.

Download Doukutsu Monogatari

English patch

Mac version

An exceptionally useful Doukutsu Monogatari FAQ

Ika-chan (A similar game by the same author)

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