The creator of Cave Story comes to the App Store, and he keeps dropping his keys

If I were to sit down and make a list of my all time favourite video games, Cave Story would rank pretty high on that list. An indie gem in the Metroidvania fashion, there really isn’t a single thing about that game that I don’t love. So when I heard that Studio Pixel, the one man team behind that cult classic, had just released a new iPhone game, I rushed to the App Store to grab a copy. Now that I’ve played it, I’ll simply say this – don’t expect to like Azarashi simply because you liked Cave Story.

Azarashi

Unlike the sprawling, epic story that is Cave Story, Azarashi is an alarmingly simple game. Players are presented with three keychains in the shape of seals. Each of the keychains is going to fall, and it’s up to you to tap on them as they do. Should you succeed, you’ll shoot an arrow that will go through the key ring and pin the friendly seal back on the wall. After three rounds of this, the game ends. Besting your score, which is determined by how quickly you succeed, is the only reason to come back and try again.

Both the music and are art top notch – but then again, we’d expect nothing less from Studio Pixel. The game has a catchy soundtrack that any fan of chiptune music would love, making it almost worth the asking price alone. Heck – if the tune was in the iTunes Music Store, I’d buy it. And the seals, while simple, look terrific and are well animated. The only surprising thing we found was that, for a game seemingly aimed at kids, a missed tap can end with a bit of gore. Should you tap on the wrong seal, your arrow will go right into their forehead and cause blood to spurt everywhere.

The mechanics of the game work well, but there’s just very little actual gameplay there. If this were a title released by any other developer, we would have considered it much too shallow to warrant a review. But with Studio Pixel attached, it was hard to believe there wouldn’t be something more. As it turns out, there wasn’t.

Azarashi isn’t bad for what it is, but ends up feeling like a mini-game that belongs in a larger game rather than a standalone game itself. The presentation, as we’ve come to expect from Studio Pixel, is great – but it’s hard to recommend a game purchase solely so that you can look at a gorgeous pixel art rendition of a seal keychain. We’re hoping that Studio Pixel comes to the App Store again, but when they do, they bring something a bit more substantial.