Bonus! Cave Facts!

Donpachi

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“Let’s make a Toaplan style shooting game!” That was the concept for this game, but partly because we were inexperienced, throughout the development people kept pointing out parts which weren’t very Toaplan-y. “This bullet pattern isn’t like Toaplan” … “The speed of this boss isn’t like Toaplan” …”The way this helicopter moves isn’t like Toaplan” … “This boss fight”, “These enemy bullets”, “This ship”… so on and so forth. What’s Toaplan, again? (Programmer)

The voiceover was done by a man named Bob. We’d send him the Japanese beforehand by fax (this was before the internet). We told him we wanted the voice to be like a teacher to the player. He took that intention and translated it into English in a cool way, changing the expression or nuance of things to sound better. We were really rushing when we recorded it, and we had to change some things. The sessions lasted really long, and Bob’s voice was hoarse, but he soldiered on to the end. (Sound Engineer)

The title Donpachi is said to have been created by our President while he was on a walk from Kagurazaka to Ichigaya. The story is after his walk he went to a meeting and said “how about Donpachi?” The “don” would be spelled with the kanji for “shuryou”1 , and “pachi” would use the normal character for bee, “hachi.” Up till the end the President was saying “isn’t there some other character we can use for hachi?” (Programmer)

Dodonpachi

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For Dodonpachi we were thinking, if we can increase the number of bullets and still make it dodgeable, then not only will it look flashy, but it will be also be fun to play! But we were very worried whether this idea would be well received by players… at that time, Master Battle Garegga spoke to me: “kimi nara dekiru yo! hora, shikkari!” 2 (Mad Ball st 2 boss) That moment was the first time I had received a message from a game. (Programmer)

At first, the voice for Dodonpachi on the title screen was a woman’s, and it went: “do, doooooon paaaaachi!” But it sounded really awkward when we heard it with the title screen, so we decided to try messing around with the wav files from Donpachi. So that is also Bob’s voice. (Programmer)

Esp.ra.de

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Regarding the player ship being a human character this time, the ship system we had designed for our first draft was very different. But when we programmed it and played it, it wasn’t fun at all. We tried tweaking it this way and that, and as a result, by the time we decided on the final version, it was only 4 months till the development deadline. After that we had to do the main enemy placement and boss attack work, so it was a really rushed project. (Programmer)

Junya Inoue, who was an employee with Cave at this time, really put us through the wringer on this project. With his catchphrase “It has to feel real!”, he’d then tell us “Put a table here!” or “Put cars on this road!” or “Put a sign here!” It was requests like that, one after the other. Finally a programmer complained, “Shouldn’t we be placing the enemies before all this?” to which Inoue replied, “Tables come before enemies!!!” (Programmer)

Dangun Feveron

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Originally, the soundtrack was entirely heavy metal. However, one day we were reviewing the whole game and thought it might be better to make it more thematic somehow, when someone said, “you know, guys… don’t you feel the fever?” And with that, we hurriedly changed almost everything to an 80s style disco soundtrack. To this day, though, the question remains as to why the boss music alone stayed heavy metal… (Sound Engineer)

While we worked on Esp.ra.de, I remember looking at the desk across from me where Feveron was being developed and seeing that the ship shot was changing each week. It started as a very typical shot, then one day it changed to a flashy 3-way shot, then finally you were shooting out cyborg soldiers… in a different sense, I was very worried about this project too. (Programmer)

Guwange

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When the project we had pitched before Guwange fell flat, we had piles of documents with new ideas lying around the office. Guwange is the project that came out of our idea to try and revive the Japanese aesthetic shooter. (Designer – Inoue)

The project began as a ground based vertical scrolling shooting game with obstacles. Inoue had requested that it have walking human characters, since it would be Japanese themed, and we started development without knowing anything else. We had no idea the mountain of problems we would later face because of that… (Programmer)

Progear

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I’m a person who has a really hard time remembering names, so I chose machine parts that would be easy to remember for Progear: Ring, Bolt, Chain, and so forth. Many of my works have names derived from things and places like this. (Designer – Inoue)

Progear began with the idea that, if Cave was going to make a horizontal scrolling shooter, let’s make bullet dodging and enemy destruction the focus. However, out of the blue Inoue asked us to make a system where the characters’ affections for each other changed depending on how the player played. The programmers really slaved over setting the parameters up for this. Then one day, while the programmers were struggling with the system, Inoue once again comes in and says, “Hey, while you’re at it, why don’t you have a meter at the end of the stage which fills up and then hearts gush out like so…” The voice of the programmer in reply resounded throughout the development office, “What do you know about heart!!!!!!!!” (Programmer)

Dodonpachi Daioujou

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The hardware we had at the time only allowed for the same number of instruments as the Super Famicom chip, and all the music files had to fit on a floppy disk. I was seriously fretting over how difficult it was to write music for game center arcade hardware like this. (Sound – Namiki)

A small development team, a short schedule, and hardware with relatively low specs were the “x3 HIT!” of troubling circumstances we had to deal with, while also feeling the pressure of making a sequel to Dodonpachi, our flagship title. To top it off, we were told that if the income from the location test is bad, the arcade development team would be disbanded. It was like some sudden death game from a TV variety show. The location test didn’t go as great as we had hoped… well… it didn’t go really well at all, but thanks to the response we received from the players, our team was able to continue making games today. Thank you very much. (Programmer)

Knowing the hardware’s sprite display limitations, we at first had no plans for a second loop. However, our debuggers at the time were asking us “when will you add a second loop?”, and when we responded that we had no intention of doing so, they replied with indignance that “A Dodonpachi game without a second loop has no right to be sold.” Even though the deadline was just before us, we were roused by this and decided to make it at any cost! Of course, this didn’t change the hardware sprite display limitations, and we struggled with it the whole time. (Programmer)

Black Label

We wanted a screen capture from the game on the poster, so we asked someone to photograph it. At this time we didn’t have any hi-tech video capture device at the office, so we had no choice but to have one of our employees wait till everyone had gone home, then take the pictures with a single-lens reflex camera in total darkness. Even though he was just an amateur, we thought he did a good job, and so we sent the pictures off for publishing in high spirits. But several days later, one of our employees was looking at the finished poster and noticed something. “What the… there’s some weird green thing here! Could it be the image of a spirit…?” We rushed over and gazed at it until we thought we could make out an image or writing… “Hijouguchi…?” 3 (Programmer)

Ketsui

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There’s actually a part in Daifukkatsu that ties into Ketsui. I secretly snuck the EVAC logo onto a billboard-like background, as destructible scenery, in the last stage. (Designer – Tanaka)

At the beginning we were thinking to make a very orthodox shooting game. We were going to have no scoring system at all, focusing purely on bullet dodging and destruction, a “plain ramen”, or “Mr. Stoic” style STG. However, during playtesting a week before the location test, another programmer said, “This isn’t us. This just isn’t us. A ramen without an easy to understand scoring system… that isn’t Cave!” …tantrums were thrown and that was the end of that idea. So we frantically asked the designers to “Make us some box-like things that will match the world of the game.” That extremely vague instruction was the origin of that item, which later became Cave’s foremost moe character, the multiplier chip. (Programmer)

Espgaluda

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Our sales department was very adamant about not making another game like Ketsui, and instead told us to do a character themed shooting this time, and that game was Espgaluda. As the project progressed we didn’t have any special scoring system in place, but we then realized well into development that we were in danger of making a “Mr. Stoic” character shooting game. The Kakusei system was the end result of us mustering our strength and exploring some new ideas. (Programmer)

Mushihimesama

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Alright, THIS time we are going to make a “Mr. Stoic” shooting game! And it will have that 90s ultra hardcore manly style! … such was the vigor we had as we planned this game. Even at the initial planning stage we knew we wanted the ship to be a hardcore mecha fighting jet! The enemies too would use actual tanks and helicopters as motifs! It would be a “real military style world war shooting” …you’d smell the gunpowder wafting from your screen! However, one day, due to various circumstances, that “hardcore mecha fighting jet” suddenly became an “itte kima~su!” style girl, those real military mechas became buggish bugs, and the game became a “heartwarming fantasy style bug shooting game”… with the smell of horned beetles wafting from the screen. I can’t deny the possibility that we coded the dense danmaku Ultra mode unconsciously as a response to these changes. (Programmer)

Starting with this title, we changed our hardware, and the specs went way up. The programmers were thrilled: “Wow, we can do transparencies!” … “Awesome, even with this many bullets it doesn’t slowdown!” We stayed overnight at the office for many days working on the 3 modes, which were more than we had ever put into a game before. But we didn’t mind: we were in love with this hardware that wouldn’t complain no matter how many bullets we threw at it. (Programmer)

Ibara

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“Make it like that game!” That was the request received to develop Ibara. Our new hardware had just come out, so we were still in the process of writing our coding libraries, and we could only complete one part of the gameplay elements we had initially planned… it was a title full of problems. At the location test people were saying “it doesn’t feel like Cave,” but the company was telling us “Don’t make it like a Cave game,” so in a number of senses it was trying.

Black Label

For the arrange version of Ibara on the console port, the lead programmer suggested, “How about we make a more Cave-style Ibara?” When we finished this we found it interesting in it’s own right. Someone suggested that this could work well in the arcade with some additional tweaking, so the programmer who did the arrange version again adjusted things for the arcade, and the “second” Black Label was completed. (Programmer)

Espgaluda 2

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I had initially planned to name all the characters after butterflies. “Tsubame” was first going to be “Shijimi.” But the names sounded weak for the bosses, so in the end I dropped the idea. (Designer – Nomura)

Actually, at first we were developing a different game for the Taito Type X system, but due to various circumstances that got suspended. However, without changing the deadline, we were asked to hurry and make a different game. I had secretly been developing ideas for a sequel to Espgaluda, so I suggested it, and it was chosen to be made. Naturally the schedule was extremely tight, and we also had a show to present the game at, so we worked night after night on the game… if we stopped working even for a moment we’d start to get overcome with drowsiness. The other staff saw us senselessly polishing the pcbs in our half-awake state and remarked, “They must really love that hardware!” (Programmer)

Pink Sweets

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Our first idea for the game was to have a time bomb you could use in tight situations strategically to escape… but we realized there was no way to play the game normally with such a thing. Our shoulders dropped in disappointment. (Programmer)

The Cave sound team was asked to write the BGM and sound effects for this game. We were under pressure because it was our very first title, but when we got our first reviews in magazines and such, it was a feeling as strong as your first time with a woman. And it was also the debut song for Natsuko, “IBALOVE SONG”! (Sound)

Mushihimesama Futari

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The previous title Mushihimesama had 3 modes, and we were initially thinking we’d do 4 modes for this game. We had prepared special bosses and music for it, and the basic materials were all gathered together, but it turned out our hands were full just with the 3 modes. But it wasn’t that far off, so we ended up reviving the idea as “God Mode” for the Black Label release. (Programmer)

A new feature of this game was the selectable shot style. When it came to naming these modes, the “Normal” shot mode was easily chosen, but we had difficulties naming the other, more technical shot. It was named “Maniac” in a draft, but since that was a name for the game mode, it wasn’t very good. Then, at a meeting, in the midst of a heavy, silent atmosphere, someone said, “The opposite of normal… is abnormal! Let’s call it ‘abnormal’!” I suppose it was for the best… (Programmer)

Black Label

This was made on an extremely short 1 month schedule with just one programmer. We had already decided on adding God Mode and Spiritual Larsa, but if we were going to label it Black Label, the sales department requested that it have more changes to distinguish it. So we started with changing the way the ship handled, rearranged the scoring system for every mode, and redid some of the enemy placements. Then, to make it look different, we used Photoshop, which we were unfamiliar with, and went silently and slowly through the background data spread across different machines. (Programmer)

Muchi Muchi Pork

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At first we had a variety of names flying around for the project, like “Pucchin Pork,” but Ikeda kept telling us “The point of this game is to be Muchi Muchi! So make it feel Muchi Muchi!”, so in the end we named it “Muchi Muchi Pork.” 4 (Designer – Wakabayashi)

This was the Cave in-house sound team first voice acting challenge! I locked myself alone in the soundproof room and recorded late into the night, dancing around the office alone. I can’t forget the “Muchi Po–kyu!” … in any event, this game was full of memories for me. (Sound)

Deathsmiles

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When I was making Deathsmiles, Ikeda was sitting in the desk in front of me, and when he saw all the danmaku patterns I was gleefully putting in the game, he strongly chided me for it: “Cut that out!” (Programmer – Ichimura)

The idea was to make a game with easier enemies and attacks. But one day Inoue saw the game and said, “Where’s the danmaku?” The lead programmer explained that it was supposed to be “lighter,” to which Inoue raised his voice and emphatically replied, “What will happen if you take the danmaku out of a Cave game?! Thats like taking the gunpowder out of a stick of fireworks!” He then told us something which to this day I don’t understand, “Make it light means the danmaku patterns should be like the touch of sweetness in a spicy curry!” (Programmer)

Mega Black Label

This title began from a request we had from players who wanted to play a more difficult version of Deathsmiles. After talking it over with Inoue, we decided that if we were going to make it we might as well include as much as we can. So we made Sakura the main character, added new bosses and stages, and a black label “stuffed with mega like!” was born. We adjusted all the characters as well, except for Rosa, who was already strong to begin with, so we left her untouched. As a result, in a number of ways she’s become a somewhat unpopular character… Rosa, I’m sorry. (Programmer)

Dodonpachi Daifukkatsu

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The schedule for this project was very strict: even though the release date was in May, the development didn’t start until the end of December. Despite those circumstances, we made the development deadline, and after we had shipped all the pcbs and were casually playing the game, laughing and chatting… one of us turned pale and said: “The 2P score is missing a digit…” If the score got high enough from a combo and the digit increased, the first 2P digit would disappear off screen. As a result, the next day we took a truck to the delivery station and recovered all the pcbs, went straight back to the office, reburned all the roms, repackaged all the pcbs, and reshipped everything… it was no laughing matter. And despite all that, once they had been installed at game centers, it turned out a counterstop was still awaiting us. (Programmer)

Black Label
For the black label version we added a system where enemy bullets change into items. However, if you played in strong style with the red gauge full, the display would start to flicker out from the bullet cancelling and item effect. We thought that sucked, so we cut those graphical effects we had worked so hard on until we came up with something that would work even during relatively crazy moments. But even then. it still happened… dear players, you are too good… (Programmer)

Deathsmiles II

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By changing to 3D, our development environment also had to change entirely, and this and other things caused us no end of problems. It was decided we would announce the game at the AOU show in mid February, but at the start of the month we had only 1 stage, 1 character, and 5 bats prepared. It was truly a desperate situation. By an incredible force of will we advanced the game, but the 3D was a wall standing in our way, and each day we never seemed to pick up the pace. Somehow we just barely managed to produce something halfway presentable, but our troubles continued at the show. Every time the game powered up I had to endure the players’ piercing looks, and I was seriously reconsidering the course of my life. (Programmer)

THE END