A Cave Story Moment: A Grim Ascent

Mar 23, 2009 at 6:09 AM
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Hello, greetings, and salutations, assembled Cave Story fans.

I don't do this terribly often, but every once in a while I play a game that garners such a reaction from me that it requires me to spit out a bunch of words.

Cave Story is one of those games.

Below is... well, an expanded version of what was going through my head during the moment the game finally sublimated - for me - from a terribly fun 8-bittish shooter-platformer to an astounding narrative experience. I bring these words to you and hope you enjoy.

Spoiler Alert: While I have some speculative doubts that many of you are here without actually have having beaten the game, an unnecessary warning seems a much more forgivable transgression than ruining the experience for anyone. Therefore, it should be noted that the below contains A Whole Friggin' Bunch Of Spoilers.

Accuracy Alert: I also probably got a bunch of stuff completely wrong, too, but these were my impressions during my initial playthrough. Do forgive massive deviations from known and fan-agreed Cave Story canon.









Field Log, Timestamp: -76:24:19 Cleboctubuary 62nd *Internal Clock Data Corrupted; Please Resynchronize with Main Server*
Subject: The Mission
Unit Designation: *File Corrupted Or Missing*
Unit Type: Android Soldier, Experimental
Unit Location: Floating Island, Coordinates: *GPS satellite uplink not responding*


The moon is wide and full, as if even it cannot not help but stare in stunned silence as it bears witness to what happens beneath. The only other things to light the side of the sky island this night are the bursts of blue phosphorescence that pour from my plasma assault rifle into the screaming beasts that seek to impede my moonlit ascent, my mission.

I feel no remorse for them. For anything. I lock all such feeling away, compartmentalize it into a little coded box, shove it aside, then drop it into the recycle bin. If I do what I am sure I have to do to keep Humanity safe, they would all be dead anyway; this was just a little faster.


Life is, when broken down to its base elements, nothing more than a series of self-sustaining chemical reactions. This is why there is a Darwinian imperative for survival in the first place - The most successful reactions will do whatever is in their power to continue self-sustaining; the ones that don't try won't keep doing it. Some will develop deadly claws; others, fast reflexes and keen senses.

Humans, on the other hand, built me to preserve themselves.

They built me to prevent a storm of rage-filled bullet-resistant mutant lapine ogre-beasts from scouring the Earth of human life.

What were a few rabbits compared to that goal?


I hadn't always thought like that, even in what short span of memory I possess. Earlier today I'd wanted to protect who I could; the rabbitlike Mimiga are harmless, after all, unless fed the red flowers. I, like my fellow combat android Curly Brace, had wanted to save the genuine innocents in the horrible scenario set up by the malevolent Doctor responsible for raising the army of Mimiga and the biohazard flora that make the adorable bunny-creatures into crazed killing machines.

I don't know when my mission parameters changed back to their original setting – when I shed the white knight’s dream of preserving all life as a staggering statistical improbability - but a few theories occur to me as I clutch the next stone up with my left hand, aim at the ledge above with my right, squeeze the sleek metal trigger with one ghost-white finger and blast the next bouncing puff-monster into a twitching heap of scorched meat.


Maybe it was when Curly died; when I saw her shorted-out casing lying next to me as I awoke to find that the only thing that had kept her alive and un-waterlogged in the reservoir was now squarely in my hand.

For you uninitiated humans reading this record - likely to be found only in my scorched and battered wreckage, if at all - it wasn't love that caused her irrevocable deactivation to mess with my mind. Couldn't be love. Androids don't go in for that - not unless they're the kind that's programmed to do so, and... That is about as far from my evident function as a Professor Booster was from the top shelf. Besides, our first meeting was less 'love on sight' and more 'she fired a damned plasma machinegun at me,' the very one I now clutch and kill with.

What was odd about her was that due to some quirk of coding she believed the bunny creatures could be saved and protected and cared for – really
believed - and while she was there, she made you believe with her. So strongly that she fought like a wildcat – furiously, though not well - the moment she even possibly began to think they were threatened. She as was full of passion, fire, cheer and hope as any automaton I've ever seen…

Now she is dead, for all intents and purposes. Probability is negligible she will ever be reactivated; a deep-sea repair team seems unlikely to be dispatched at this juncture, and especially not before I send the island up in flames.

Even as she lay there, she was still wearing that smile…

I wondered, over and over, why she did it. Again, it couldn't have been love - She was android, as much as me, the same product line if not the same model. The most likely conclusion, I eventually reasoned, was that she'd seen me fight, did the math... and determined that I could accomplish what she could not.

In that calculation, she was right. Not only had I proven the better combatant in single confrontation, but she wouldn't be able to exterminate the Mimiga if all other options had been exhausted. I certainly won't delude myself into thinking she would have wanted it that way - I know she wouldn't. She would have believed to the end that there was a better option, some way to stop the Doctor's plans without destroying the island and everyone on it, and maybe, as her processes began shutting down, imagined I would find it; if I can't, she didn't ever want to know.


Yet even that alone doesn't seem enough to account for my change in parameters. Was it Toroko? Frightened and as genuine an innocent as you could get amidst the chaos? The fact that I had to gun her down with the very weapon Curly passionately wielded to protect the Mimiga race?

Professor Booster, his broken and aged body tossed to the bottom of a pit, breathing his last right in front of me as his decrepit organic shell failed to sustain his mind?

Mimiga Chief King, who bravely drew a line in the sand and came screaming after the augmented Doctor with nothing more than a sharpened blade; who was killed for his grand but futile gesture?

It might all be affecting me more than I calculated possible. After all – with plasma and missile at my disposal, it certainly isn't for tactical reasons I am still carrying King’s blade, or for that matter, Toroko’s pendant…


Maybe it was the sky dragons. They were supposed to be majestic beasts, each egg that lay within their incubation chambers a pocket filled with hope, a womb birthing our only likely way off this island. To see over a dozen of them them dead, stillborn, or - worse - the ones that lived, bleeding from malformed eye sockets as they screamed in agony and breathed fire at anything they could hear approaching...

Kazuma Sakamoto, one of the few human survivors of this tragedy, found the only one to hatch without complications. I could have left; there was a spare seat on it. But that would mean abandoning the mission. That would mean letting the Doctor make his army of ogrish, mutant rabbits, unleashing them on the world.

There really was no choice, in that. The stakes are far bigger than one nameless experimental combat android. They are far bigger than the lives of everyone who had died around and because of me as I'd explored this adorable nightmare world, fought the beasts spawned in the Doctor's vile wake.


I can’t timestamp which was the final straw, and not just because my clock isn't working. Each death, each horror, had taken a little more; now there's nothing left but grim determination, and my objective, buzzing over and over in my HUD:

Preserve humanity: By any means necessary.

And I will. If I have to personally kill every living thing on this island with my bare hands to make sure Humanity sees the next year, I will. If I have to sacrifice my existence to keep the species safe, I'll face permanent deactivation with a smile.

I will accomplish my mission, whatever the cost.

End of file.
 
Mar 24, 2009 at 1:03 AM
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If your going to write a fanfic then put it somewher else and just give us a link.
 
Mar 24, 2009 at 1:59 AM
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That was beautifully written.

G. freemaan said:
If your going to write a fanfic then put it somewher else and just give us a link.
That's kinda insulting.
 
Mar 24, 2009 at 2:17 AM
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So brilliant! very calm and nifty.
 
Mar 24, 2009 at 3:08 AM
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Yeah. I might rate this higher than "The Stranger I Knew".
 
Mar 24, 2009 at 3:58 AM
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andwhyisit said:
That's kinda insulting.

i didnt actually read it.

next person to reply: *GASP* How could you?
 
Mar 24, 2009 at 4:14 AM
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Mar 24, 2009 at 8:09 AM
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First, thanks for all the overwhelmingly positive input!


Haithm said:
So brilliant! very calm and nifty.

Thanks!

Calm is not a bad word for it. It was strange... Grim and resigned and determined all at the same time. That the melancholy-yet-hopeful "Moonsong" was playing when the seeds of this were planted didn't hurt. Try reading it while that's going through your player!


JacobX891 said:
Wow, dude... that was epic. I think you might wanna pursue this whole "writing" thing.

Much obliged!

Cave Story's tale is epic, viewed from just the right angle.

There's always been something about certain kinds of low-resolution games that just allows you to infuse them with meaning and detail, so that even in a seemingly linear series of events you feel as though you are contributing something to the story. Cave Story would not have worked, I believe, as a full-budget modern production with voice acting and full 3D; your imagination would have been taken too far out of the equation.


andwhyisit said:
Yeah. I might rate this higher than "The Stranger I Knew".

Thank you!

But... The what now?
 
Mar 24, 2009 at 10:02 AM
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I'd say ban Freemaan, there is an extremely high possibility of him being AAKid (I was absent for nearly a week on the forums so I may have missed a couple o' stuff about this) and I'd say this should count as ban evasion.
 
Mar 24, 2009 at 1:07 PM
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Amazing piece of work. It's amazing to see how different people can view the game in so many different ways.
 
Mar 24, 2009 at 4:08 PM
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Wow, this is just excellent.


G. freemaan said:
If your going to write a fanfic then put it somewher else and just give us a link.

He does have a point, but freeman, you should at least have read it before commenting :rolleyes:
 
Mar 25, 2009 at 11:35 AM
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No. His case isn't really that solidly built upon.

He wants Benjamin (which I shall now dub Ben for convinience) to post his fanfic elsewhere and then give us a link to it.

I come into topics not to get lured into clicking another link, I'd rather read it in the thread.

Do you really want his first post to be
Hello, greetings, and salutations, assembled Cave Story fans.

I don't do this terribly often, but every once in a while I play a game that garners such a reaction from me that it requires me to spit out a bunch of words.

Cave Story is one of those games.

Below is... well, an expanded version of what was going through my head during the moment the game finally sublimated - for me - from a terribly fun 8-bittish shooter-platformer to an astounding narrative experience. I bring these words to you and hope you enjoy.

Spoiler Alert: While I have some speculative doubts that many of you are here without actually have having beaten the game, an unnecessary warning seems a much more forgivable transgression than ruining the experience for anyone. Therefore, it should be noted that the below contains A Whole Friggin' Bunch Of Spoilers.

Accuracy Alert: I also probably got a bunch of stuff completely wrong, too, but these were my impressions during my initial playthrough. Do forgive massive deviations from known and fan-agreed Cave Story canon.

NOW GO HERE TO READ MY FANFIC

Wouldn't really make much sense to me. Best to keep it organised in one thread, no?
 
Mar 25, 2009 at 12:35 PM
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Yeah. Organized threads make it clean and neat, instead of having to go to such and such link to such and such work. I'd rather read it here. Glad you decided to do that, Benjamin. Kept us from having to lynch you or something. XD
 
Mar 25, 2009 at 4:17 PM
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G. freemaan said:
If your going to write a fanfic then put it somewher else and just give us a link.
...Um... what's wrong with it being posted right here? I certainly don't mind. In fact, it appears you're the only one who cares.

jcys810 said:
I'd say ban Freemaan, there is an extremely high possibility of him being AAKid (I was absent for nearly a week on the forums so I may have missed a couple o' stuff about this) and I'd say this should count as ban evasion.
His pattern of posting is nothing like AAKid's pattern, so if he really is AAKid (which I doubt) he's taking new tactics.

To the writer: I notice you seem to have taken the sadder ending, where Curly dies. Were you aware that it's possible to save her? Or did you choose that ending on purpose?
 
Mar 25, 2009 at 8:48 PM
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Rei Lythryian said:
Amazing piece of work. It's amazing to see how different people can view the game in so many different ways.

Which is part of the advantage of low-res graphics. So much is left to your imagination, which allows for things like this.


Celtic Minstrel said:
To the writer: I notice you seem to have taken the sadder ending, where Curly dies. Were you aware that it's possible to save her? Or did you choose that ending on purpose?

I actually was not, at the time, aware it was possible; I only discovered this well after finishing the game. I've also since learned it's possible to save Booster, but I think I prefer it this way in both their cases; There's something much more compelling to me about the default tale, the way this cutesy-ish world turns darker, shade by shade, as everyone around you starts dying one by one.

The ironies and statements involved in Curly's sacrifice seemed particularly poignant, and so in many ways I'm glad I didn't know it was possible; I don't think it would have put me in the mindset that all this did.
 
Mar 25, 2009 at 11:13 PM
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JacobX891 said:
We all killed Curly the first time around. It happens.
I didn't. After the core fight I went "Ohh, shiny" and got the tow rope.
 
Mar 26, 2009 at 12:44 AM
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I also am of the opinion that the story was more compelling when Booster and Curly died. That scene was the most powerful in the game. Still, the better ending dove deeper into the backstory and you got to see more of certain characters, not to mention the extra gameplay. I'll call the two versions equal on a quality level, but only if you get all the way through hell. Still, since Curly's one of the game's most lovable characters, it's unsurprising that nearly every single mod that takes place afterwards takes the good ending as canon.

Anyways, was this a one-off deal, or are there more chapters? It looks like the former.
 
Mar 26, 2009 at 4:54 AM
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It was planned as a one-off deal, honestly, a twisted look into the moment the game clicked for me, revealed its dark heart in full.

I have a feeling that were there to be more, the fundamental joke - that this cutesy platformer is a disguise for a gritty sci-fi epic with an android's existential angst center stage - might get old without a lot of creative re-imagining.

...Unless people really want me to try it. >.>;
 
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