Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Where have you been all my life, Cave Noire?

Considering I was a pretty big fan of the GameBoy back when it still could be considered a "current" machine, it surprises me how many of its more curious releases flew under my radar.

Pitman (aka Catrap) was one, until recently. Painter Momopie was another--as were Noobow and Hoi Hoi (Stop That Roach! in the States) and a whole slew of others.

It makes a good bit of sense that most of the above-mentioned titles avoided catching my attention, of course, as they either were Japan-only affairs or were given such low-key releases in North America that they likely avoided catching the attention of the majority of this continent's GameBoy owners, too.

How on earth, though, did I fail to become aware of Cave Noire until sometime last year, when I read about it on Kimimi's now-defunct blog? (Thankfully, she still can be found over on shinjuforest.blogspot.co.uk--occasionally.)


I mean, it was made and published by Konami, for crying out loud. Granted, the Konami logo doesn't mean a whole lot these days--unless you're a really big Metal Gear or football (soccer) fan--but back in the early 1990s, which is when Cave Noire hit Japanese store shelves, it meant quite a bit to folks who had any interest at all in the hobby known as gaming.

Whatever the reason, I was completely unaware of this portable roguelike until recently, as I just finished saying. As for why that's a shame: well, for starters, its packaging is really awesome--as the photos included above and below should make clear.


Cave Noire's manual is pretty great, too. Unfortunately, I was too lazy to snap more than a single photo (below) of it for this post. (Don't worry, I'm going to devote a "Manual Stimulation" write-up to this sucker soon.)

The real star of the Cave Noire show, though, is its gameplay (check out some video of it here), which is refreshingly unique even today--23 years after it was first released. In fact, I don't think I've ever encountered a roguelike that plays like this one does, as it basically consists of bite-sized chunks of roguelike goodness.


Just like pretty much every example of this niche genre in existence, Cave Noire focuses its attention on the crawling and conquering of dungeons. (I believe the ones here aren't completely randomly generated, as is the case in most roguelikes, although I may be wrong.) Where this portable offering differs from its genre counterparts, though, is that it's broken up into four different dungeons. Two of them task players with collecting various amounts of gold or orbs, one forces them to kill a certain number of enemies and another involves freeing caged fairies. Accomplish the task at hand and you're allowed to exit--after which you're given the choice of diving back in or heading to one of the three other dungeons that are at your disposal.


Most treks take just a few minutes--as in, five or 10--by the way, which makes Cave Noire feel a lot less tedious than some roguelikes I've played. Plus, it's perfect if you have the attention span of a mayfly, as I seem to these days.

Sadly, I'm pretty sure Cave Noire is M.I.A. on all of the 3DS' regional eShops, so the only way to experience it at this point is to track down an actual cart (which shouldn't set you back too much dough) or download the ROM and then play it using your favorite emulator. Whichever option you choose, though, you shouldn't walk away disappointed.

See also: 'What can I say, I've always been a sucker for games that feature enemy flan...'

22 comments:

Justin Difazzio said...

Looks pretty fun! Wish it were easier to acquire.

Kensloth said...

Hah, I need to pay more attention! Thanks :D

thegaygamer.com said...

I can see why it's not on the NA eShop, to be honest--despite the fact that there isn't a whole lot of text in it. As for why it's not on the JP eShop, though ... :|


BTW, I believe a fan translation for this one is available, so you might want to check that out if you decide to go the emulation route.

casino12 said...

Yeah, there is translation, but it its playable even in japanese.


Actually the game is pretty affortable, somwhere around 30 bucks for a boxed copy, shipped.

thegaygamer.com said...

Oh, yeah, I didn't meant to imply that it's anywhere near unplayable in its original Japanese, casino12. I just know some folks would prefer to know exactly what's being said, etc.


And, yep, even CIB copies should be reasonably priced these days. I believe I got this one for about $25 or so.

thegaygamer.com said...

No worries! I just didn't want you to go looking for Don Doko Don 2 on the PC Engine or anything like that XD

thegaygamer.com said...

Glad to hear you like it, Michael :) There are other images on the box's other tabs, by the way--one is a fairy and ... I can't remember the others...

Zach said...

Wowwww. I wish boxart was still like some of these Gameboy and Famicom pieces. So much detail! Really revs up the imagination for those games that lacked in the graphical intensity department.

Xinen said...

Awesome find, that cover art! Thanks for the links to videos, it has a surprising amount of animations and screens for a handheld rougelike imho.

thegaygamer.com said...

I agree, Zach. Hey, at least we got them at all, though, right?

thegaygamer.com said...

Oh, yes, I agree. It really is pretty impressive for a GB game, IMO. Also, yes, the GB is region-free. Actually, all Nintendo handhelds were region-free up until the release of the DSi :|

apricotsushi said...

Awesome! I'm so glad this month's theme has been inspiring for you :D

Kaze said...

Very cool!! I've heard of this game before but kind of forgot about it! It looks totally up my alley! I love fantasy dungeon exploring! ^^ Again for fun I tried my hand at translating the story page since you had such a nice shot of it! :D (Forgive me basic skills! lol)

Story:
You have finally ended up at the northern village of Karuus (Caruise? Caluez? Kaloose?). It is said that around Karuus village are 4 dungeons, and many aspiring adventurers challenge these dungeons day and night in order to level up their skills. An elder at the Adventurer’s Association called “a guild” told you, “If you want to become a full-fledged adventurer, you must go into the dungeons and train. It looks like you have basic equipment, but that isn’t enough to complete quests. You should go to the Lord of the Forest and receive items.
When you enter the dungeon, no one will be there to save you. Be on your guard.”

Please try your best and awaken as a true adventurer. I pray fortune smiles on you.

Kaze said...

Whoops!! So I just looked at Kimimi's blog post on Cave Noire and saw she actually already translated this page! lol Sorry for the needless post! It was fun though! ^^

thegaygamer.com said...

Thanks, Marty! What a silly--or maybe I should say "bare bones"--story :) Of course, it's pretty par for the course for the early 1990s, isn't it?

thegaygamer.com said...

Wait a second, Kaze--you found that page? I've been looking all over for the old Kimimi's blog post in which she translates this manual, but I've yet to find it. Would it be possible for you to send me the link?

thegaygamer.com said...

Ah, that's great, Simon! I look forward to hearing what you think of Yume Penguin Monogatari. Hope you're enjoying it so far!

thegaygamer.com said...

Well, I've been a fan of platformers ever since my brother and I got our NES, which was looooooooong ago :P Anyway, I look forward to hearing what you've been playing as part of #PlatforMonth!

Kaze said...

Sure, np! (Sorry was away from my comp all day today ^^)

http://shinjuforest.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/manual-translation-cave-noire.html

thegaygamer.com said...

Awesome. Thank you, Kaze! I've been looking all over for that sucker, as I wanted to read through it and see if I was missing anything as I play through the game.


BTW, that post indicates that I bought the copy you see here over a year ago. Wha??? XD I mean, I knew it was a while ago, but I had no idea it was that long ago.

Walter Beast said...

Thanks for introducing me to this game!
Its GREAT!!!

offal said...

here's teh manual! ;-] http://offalal.tumblr.com/post/96127330550/cave-noire-manual