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"Presented by... Cave!"
Cave Co., Ltd. is a video game company formed in 1994, one of four companies that arose from the ashes of the bankrupt Toaplan. It is perhaps well-known for its line of arcade Bullet Hell Shoot Em Ups, such as the Don Pachi and Mushihime-sama series.
In recent years, Cave has taken to bringing its shooters, the majority of which have been Japan-only, overseas. Mushihime-sama Futari for the Xbox 360 was released in November 2009 with no Region Coding, making it the first home release of a Cave shooter to be playable on an American or European console. Cave went on to release the 360 port of Espgaluda II region-free in February 2010, as well as an iPhone port in April with official Japan and U.S. releases. Deathsmiles was released in the U.S. in June, localized by Aksys Games, the same company behind the U.S. localizations of the Blaz Blue series and Shikigami no Shiro III. Cave also has an English-language website, though its focus appears to be on iPhone / Android games, with little mention of console releases, let alone arcade ones. This is not to say consoles are being ignored, though; there is now a dual-language X-Box 360 port of Guwange available on the X-Box Live Marketplace.
More recently, European publisher Rising Star Games has taken to localising some of CAVE's Xbox 360 shoot-'em-ups, so far including Death Smiles and DoDonPachi Resurrection as well as the recently announced Akai Katana. Their release of DDPR is also region-free, meaning other non-Japanese fans can get in on the action.
Games developed by Cave:
- Don Pachi (1995)
- Steep Slope Sliders (1997)
- Dangun Feveron (1998)
- Esp Ra De (1998)
- Puzzle Uo Poko (1998)
- Puzzle! Mushihime-tama (2005)
- Guwange (1999)
- Progear (2001)
- Esp Galuda (2003)
- Ketsui: Kizuna Jigoku Tachi (2003)
- Ketsui Death Label (2008), a Boss Game for the Nintendo DS
- Ketsui: Kizuna Jigoku Tachi EXTRA for Xbox360 (2010)
- Mushihime-sama (2004)
- Ibara (2005)
- Death Smiles (2007)
- Muchi Muchi Pork (2007)
- Shin Megami Tensei: IMAGINE (2007)
- Princess Debut (2008)
- Akai Katana (2010)
- Four-Wheel Drive Mini-Games (2011)
- Shirotsuku: Castle Creator (2011 for Japanese mobile, 2012 for other platforms)
- Nin 2 Jump (2011)
- Houkago no Kamishibaibu (2011)
- Rokumeikan Mahjong (2011)
- Angel Code (2011)
- Instant Brain (2011)
- Gun Blood Days (2012)
- Hokuto no Ken: Legend of the Savior (2011)
- Monchil: Hello Kitty Mega Monster Cosplay Collection (2011)
Games developed by Cave contain examples of:
- One Up: There's the usual way of earning extra lives, though in many games you can also obtain a 1-up in the form of an item by fulfilling certain conditions.
- Boss Game: Games with the "Death Label" designation. DoDonPachi dai ou jou Death Label (which comes with the PS2 port) is this on steroids, while Ketsui Death Label is a DS game. Ketsui also has a mobile version that pits you against DOOM, with each defeat of it bringing it back with more firepower.
- Bullet Hell: Some of the most iconic examples. It's also common to see extremely fast Bullet Hell as well. Notably, Cave shooters are ranked very high in terms of preference by shmup players.
- Damn You, Muscle Memory!: Switching between the two hardest difficulties will cost you a few lives as you [re-]learn the shot patterns.
- Ketsui Death Label's... Death Label course also reverses the shot colors - all the previously red shots are now blue, and vice versa. Have fun with that.
- Dolled-Up Installment: Mushihime-tama is actually a sequel to Uo Poko with the Mushihime-sama brand slapped on to it.
- Doomy Dooms of Doom: Ketsui's True Final Boss is called "DOOM."
- Easier Than Easy: No Bullet mode in DoDonPachi dai ou jou, and the Novice supermode in recent Cave ports.
- Everythings Funkier With Disco: Dangun Feveron.
- Fan Nickname: Players of Shin Megami Tensei: IMAGINE who aren't that fond of how CAVE has been messing around with the business model as well as the loot system refer to them as CAVEmen.
- Fun with Acronyms: "CAVE" - Computer Art Visual Entertainment.
- Guide Dang It: Many of the games' scoring systems; Espgaluda II has a learning curve that necessitated tutorials in its iPhone and 360 ports.
- High Definition: The 360 ports of Mushihime-sama Futari, Espgaluda II, and Deathsmiles are done in sweet, sweet HD, a big leap from their native 384x240 resolution. Of course, you can always switch to "Arcade" mode for all three ports if you're a purist.
- Hitbox Dissonance: Your hitbox is always either the cockpit, the center of the ship, or the center of the character's chest. Older games don't show the precise hitbox, which can cause issues for those who grew up with newer danmaku games.
- Horizontal Scrolling Shooter: Progear, Akai Katana, and the Deathsmiles series.
- Image Song: Becoming increasingly-common for their shmups, sung by Natsuko Naitou.
- The Merch: Lots of it!
- Nintendo Hard
- Though to Cave's credit, their games tend to have only 5 or 6 stages (as opposed to the 8-12 stages of other shooters), and while patterns do get very difficult (especially on harder difficulties and second loops), enemies almost never fire off cheap-shot attacks (think Raiden's sniper tanks). In short, the games are still very hard, but it's a "tough but fair" type of hard. Granted, this does not make them any less hard.
- No Export for You: Previously in full force, especially for home ports, but now starting to give way on the X-Box 360 and iOS platforms.
- Our Lawyers Advised This Trope / Blind Idiot Translation: "Violator and subject to severe penalties and will be prosecutedt to the full extent of the jam."
- Pinball Scoring: Many of the newer games. Usually, the trick to a high score involves cancelling a screenful of bullets and converting them into point items that each yield thousands, if not millions, of points, allowing you to, within one or two stages, reach a score that would otherwise require getting to the last stage or a score or be outright impossible to get. In Espgaluda II, for instance, playing normally will probably get you the first extend (15 million points) on Stage 4 or 5, but a few tactics allow you to get it on Stage 1.
- Scoring Points: Like many other Bullet Hell shooters, Cave introduces a variety of complex scoring systems into their shooters.
- Sdrawkcab Name: The corrupt Mega Corp of Ketsui, EVAC, is "CAVE" spelled backwards.
- Sequel First: See previous example.
- Spiritual Successor: Ibara is said to be one to Raizing's "Bat" series.
- Tank Goodness: To the point where the iOS version of Esp Galuda II has the achievement "One Less Tank in a Cave Game"
- True Final Boss: Many games have one, either on the hardest difficulty or in a second loop. They are oftentimes significantly harder than the rest of the game, hardest difficulty notwithstanding.
- Vertical Scrolling Shooter: Most of their shmups, with Progear, Akai Katana, and the Deathsmiles series being exceptions.
- Updated Rerelease: The "(color) Label" rereleases.
Names to know in Cave
- Makoto Asada: Producer
- Kenichi Takano: Producer
- Tsuneki Ikeda: Programmer, most-well-known for scoring systems involving a lot of scoring items potentially on the screen at once, two different kinds of shots to force tradeoffs between survival and score, some means of bullet cancelling, and the final boss being immune or resistant to something that inexperienced players might use often.
- "Joker" Junya Inoue: Artist and planner
- Akira Wakabayashi: Visual designer
- Shinobu Yagawa: Programmer, most-well-known for "rank" systems that encourage the player to purposely get killed, encouraging boss milking, medal chaining, and enemies who actually shoot at the player.
- Masa-KING: Producer and front-man for Cave's mobile division as well as part-time music composer (not to be confused with MASA-King, another music composer). He is willing to dress up in all sorts of costumes for the sake of CAVE.
- Daisuke Matsumoto: Music composer and occasional voice actor
- Natsuko Naitou: Music composer and singer for all image songs
- Ryu Umemoto: Music composer who was also a personal friend of Makoto Asada. He passed away in 2011.