Cave Story is a wonderful game that I reference often on this blog, holding it high in my esteem as a paragon of indie games borne from a single mind. Developer Pixel released it free of charge and translator group Aeon Genesis produced a superb English version with his blessing. It’s beyond the scope of this blog to explain why, but you absolutely should NOT purchase the Steam version-
Pixel won’t see a penny of your money ((EDIT: according to Tumblr user inexplicably-spookified, this is untrue, and Pixel does indeed receive a cut. Thanks for the correction I appreciate the lookout. However, given Nic*lis’ business practices in general, I still believe you shouldn’t give them any of your money.)) If you would like to support his work, the best way is to play the free version of Cave Story, and purchase-
Kero Blaster comes from Pixel in the wake of Cave Story’s success, and his fingerprints are all over it. From the graphical style (pixel art, as you might expect) to the instantly-identifiable soundfont used to produce the music, it’s clear even two games in that Pixel just has a certain way of doing things. This is my favourite kind of indie project- just one voice creating everything they can, rough-hewn edges still visible and some questionable idiosyncratic decisions made without committee approval; I adore the individuality and personal earnestness that projects like Cave Story, and Kero Blaster, and Iji, and Momodora, and Undertale exhibit, and I miss it from the far more produced indie scene we have today.
Anyway, my nostalgia aside, Kero Blaster tells what seems to be a personal story of feeling overworked and underappreciated, something that I’m sure will resonate with many. Less likely to resonate is being a custodian with a machine gun, but our unnamed frog protagonist is so-equipped as he travels from remote office to remote office, destroying shadowy badniks and restoring power to the office teleporters. Teleportation sure makes working overtime a breeze!
Fin or Bin:
Where Cave Story took an approach likely to be called a Metroidvania in today’s lingo, Kero Blaster is a far more procedural affair split into distinct levels. While I prefer the former, this is still a strong display of level design and thoughtful enemy placement making good use of the frog’s full arsenal of weapons. Behind the irreverent exterior beats a heart telling a darker story; I only hope I can Finish it before clocking-off time…