Cave Story PSP (now more free and with less Variant)

By: Derek Yu

On: June 26th, 2007

cavestory psp

Some of you may remember the hullabaloo surrounding the legality and morality surrounding Variant Interactive’s Cave Story PSP port (as well as the fatality of originality). It was never verified whether Variant got Pixel’s permission, or if they did, whether he would see any money, but something definitely stank up in there, and it was Variant that was whistling and looking in the other direction. Case in point:

“We want to be as faithful as possible. We are upgrading the graphics and the sound to more ‘modern’ levels, mostly for marketing concerns and platform requirements.” -Christopher Boyer, CEO of Variant Interactive

“Faithful,” “upgrading the graphics and sound,” and “marketing concerns…” which one of these does not belong with the others? So yeah, I find it really hard to believe that Pixel would go for anything like that, and even if he did, I still say fuck ’em for doing it. “Upgrade the graphics and music?” Eat a shit sandwich, asshole.

Which is why it makes me really happy to announce that there’s a fan-made, homebrew PSP version in the works! Yay fans!

“Finally got Pixel’s approval and the source code. It looks doable, but at ~50000 lines of code it’s a little daunting.

This is the preview version that I sent to Pixel, so it’s mostly guesswork and buggy and certainly feels different from the original. Playable up to the first boss fight. Dual-language English and Japanese :) Tested on 3.10, should work unmodified with most custom firmware.”

Word. You can download a buggy, early version of the port from the link above. And while you’re at it, check out this DS port as well (different author).


  • Lorne T Whiting

    Woo woo! Represent! Or something!
    Either way, I don’t have a PSP ;).

  • haowan

    Fuck yeah. That’s what I call a port. Get the source code and permission. Fuck yeah.

  • FireSword

    I have the psp but last time i used it was 6 month ago.. it’s full of dust :(
    I think anyway that Portable console is where games like Cave naturally belongs..

  • Xander

    Awesome, I may have to give that another playthrough (How many times is that now? Heh) once they crack the 3.50 firmware. Apparentlty theres a new exploit found to allow homebrew in LUMINES of all things. Forced sales of the only must-have launch title up by 5,900% on Amazon. And Sony complain about homebrew? Weird…

  • crackers

    Well, Sony are flippin’ clown shoes. What do you expect?

  • Fost

    Am hoping this gets completed sometime in my lifetime:

    Cave Story on DS! :)

  • rey-o

    equally shady is how there aren’t any pics of this new and fancy graphical ‘upgrade’.

    hopefully pixel didn’t get totally screwed over over this

  • Koach

    Wait, do I get this right? They try to make money off someone else’s freeware game?
    >rey-o: hopefully pixel didn’t get totally screwed over over this


  • BenH

    You just have to look at the Variant website to see there’s something dodgy about them

  • Daiz

    Uh, has ANYONE here even read Variant’s forums (well, they are currently down, but has anyone EVER read them? I have)? I remember reading that Variant has Pixels approval and they got the source code from the guy himself and Pixel did get money out of the deal. And they have said that they WILL include the option to use original graphics etc in the PSP game. So you aren’t forced to use the “improved” graphics or sounds, and Pixel did get money out of the deal.

  • Mr Peckerston
  • fish

    finally, a reason to use my PSP.
    this is GREAT.
    i cant wait.
    maybe ill finish the damned game then.

  • Aaron


    Wow, thanks, Peckerston. That’s pretty much the whole thing, isn’t it?

  • Koach

    Ok, I guess I just took this post too much at a face value, before reading the interview.

    Imho the problem of the issue is probably not so much the changes to graphics and music but more the ethics behind it. Should a freeware game classic with unique visual and atmospheric style really be converted to something that appeals to the broad mass and drops off as much money possible?

    In the end, it’s a matter of ideals, but wanting “the game to reach a wide audience so more people can experience Pixel’s fantastic game” does sound a litte, well, fishy.

    However, it seems to be an act of goodwill, but it just doesn’t sound very prospective to me.

  • Hooker with a penis

    Ok, so I don’t really get where Yu got this hostility? Pixel got the money, there’s possibility to play with original graphics & music. Um? what’s the problem Derek? It’s automaticly bad when someone makes money off it? Hey, everything you consume is a product, so you should at least test it before givin’ it a bad name. I don’t see a whole lot objectivity when you don’t even include a link to Variant’s site on your post. I like but this shit just left me a really bad taste in mouth.

  • Echo

    Whoa, thanks Fost & Derek – I got a DS Flash card just last week and I didn’t know about the DS port project. It’s unbelievable how far he’s gotten with it – it looks like he’s about two builds away from having a complete “playable” version of the game.

  • Hooker with a penis

    Besides, when it comes to ethics trying to make money with a GOOD GAME is less wrong than that nerd-rage-badmouthin’. Seriously, I think Variant didn’t hold pixel to a gunpoint while forcing him to sign a deal. When you “fuck off” Variant, you could as well “Fuck off”, Pixel!
    And what comes to supporting the original, if you’re afraid that it would change to non-free/extinct, you can always download it now, save it and spread it illegally over the internet – Actually gets more done, than 14yrs-old-like-bedroomdoorslamming-angst based on bias and inaccuracy.
    Also, when you think about these points here, how are those “fan-made” guys any different? Only difference is that money’s not involved.
    Those guys are doing that for fame and glory of the UG-gaming community, and if they succeed, eventually for money.
    Doesn’t change a f*ckin’ thing.
    At least – I’m going to check out the game before i draw my judgement.

  • fish

    so, do you work a variant?

  • DanDanger

    Coo cant wait for that to come out!

    I dont see why everyone is so upset about changing the graphics and such, I know it is blasphemous to say so but cave story graphics do belong on a NES. I am actually looking forward to seeing the updated pixels meself.

  • Blueberry_pie

    How does one improve Cave Story’s graphics and music?

  • Daiz

    Mr Peckerston, yes, I can see that Variant has had a fair share of problems, and I can see that they happened when Variant was pretty much just started. But how is this related to their Cave Story project? As far as I can see they’re doing this whole thing on their own, they’re not funding Pixel to do the job, they made a deal with him, got the source code from him, and Pixel gets money out of the deal, and Variant’s own workers are doing the actual dirty job.

    And please, try to spell my nickname correctly.

    And I find that whole hate against Variant a bit weird, too. Variant is making a PSP version of Cave Story, Pixel gets money out of the deal, Cave Story can get even a wider audience with the whole thing, you can play the game with original graphics and music, the PC &Mac versions (and others) will stay completely free. I don’t see any problems here.

  • Lorne T Whiting

    Actually, Dan, it would be SNES.
    Cave story is miles above the NES limitations (See U-Head on the forums).

  • DrDerekDoctors

    I’ve a friend who has a project with Variant. I don’t think he’s heard from them recently, either.

  • Karzon

    Another question: Are they using the AGTP translation, and if so did they get permission for that?

  • ptoing

    U-Head is a bit above NES limits as well ‘3’

  • Mr Peckerston

    not Diaz:

    My point is that Variant’s history is worrying to say the least, even ignoring everything surrounding the Cave Story port, and they seem to have a habit of not paying their devs. They don’t seem to have any actual development experience either.


    You mean that Push Push Penguin isn’t going to make it to Xbox 360 by July 2006?!

  • PHeMoX

    “I don’t see any problems here.”

    It’s simply a shame, games that are released being free shouldn’t be released on a different platform for money.
    I don’t care if the developers make money out of it, but at least they should make up their minds about it being free or not.
    Free is free and should stay free. It’s like giving people candy and after they ate it ask for a 5 dollar bill, it’s simply awkward.

  • ptoing

    Well, I gathered that the PC and Mac ones will stay free, as will the DS one prolly and that other PSP one. So I do not see the problem. If anyone owning a PSP will buy this, their fault.

  • Derek

    They are shady as all heck, and extremely unprofessional in how they handle their business. And just think about it: if Pixel is supporting this homebrew port, then either 1. there’s no deal with Variant, or 2. Pixel just doesn’t give a fluck about it. Either way, having this company shill a beautiful freeware game with promises of upgrading the graphics for marketing purposes just puts a nasty taste in my mouth. ‘Cause you know what upgrading the graphics means to people like that, right?

  • Oddbob

    Ah, good old Jester – I’d ask whatever happened to them, but as long as they’re quiet who gives a toss ;)

  • ZombiePixel

    Back in the day Demonstar released a shareware game called Train Tracking that was a direct clone of a mini-game by Sensible for the Amiga.

    A former project manager for Sensible was was so miffed at this that he pirated the new shareware Train Tracking and offered it as a free download from his site. He wasn’t in the right and he wasn’t totally wrong either. But he was being a complete twat.

    This situation strikes me as being quite similar.

  • Oddbob

    Not really, I don’t think the two are comparable at all.

    For one thing, I don’t think Variant are denying that its in anyway related to Cave Story or at the least, not acknowledging what it is unlike Demonstar and their publishers did with Train Tracking.

    I have a great deal of sympathy for the situation Demonstar got themselves in, the lack of support from the publishers for one was shameful – but it was a bloody silly thing not to acknowledge the debt to Sensible Train Spotting the game owed.

    I gather Demonstar weren’t actually allowed to comment on it though once it all kicked off.


  • Oddbob

    Just in case it wasn’t clear – I’m not defending that bunch of chancers at Variant , I think Derek is bang on the nail with this one.

  • Aaron

    Well, at either rate, it says on their website, Variant Interactive’s, that Cave Story, for all platforms, will be sold for 30 bucks. O_O

  • Melly

    30 bucks. Huh. For a game that will almost certainly feel better to play in the original, fully free version? And it isn’t even an unknown obscure game, it’s a massive internet phenomenom. Practically everybody into freeware or indie games in general knows Cave Story. Unless the majority of its fans are stupid to pay 30 bucks for “updated graphics and sound” (and God knows how much of the game’s personality they will remove with that), this should be a huge flop.

    Well, guess we’ll see.

  • DrDerekDoctors

    Mr Peckerston: I never said it was PPP! Gah! GAAAH! *runs*

    Derek: Haha, that version of Manic Miner is classic. A chum programmed it and wasn’t too pleased when they slapped them backgrounds in. Luckily Jester is as good as dead, now.

    ZombiePixel: When Stuart Campbell did that thing with Train Tracking, it pretty much drove the author out of the shareware scene. :P

    Oddbob: Spill! Why weren’t they allowed to comment? Were lawyers involved? SPILL!

  • Heavy Stylus / James Monkman

    Push Push Penguin on the XBox? Sweet. Tell your mate to get a move on Graham – I’ve been waiting for Pen Pen Olympics and Kitty Hawk for ages…

    ‘Updated’ graphics & sound = puke.

  • Oddbob

    Graham, as far as I remember (and this comes with the disclaimer that I was incredibly inebriated whilst having the tale recounted to me so my memory is a little hazy) it was “suggested” that Demonstar don’t comment on the issue and leave it in the hands of the lawyers.

    As far as I’m aware, no action was actually ever taken. (Probably lucky as whilst they’d have a case to get the download removed, the issue of it being a clone of Sensible Traintracking would be hard to dispute)

    Far be it from me with my amateur psychology to suggest that it wasn’t Stu who nailed the coffin shut in Demonstars shareware career, mind…but…

    Whilst I know Stu hosting the download was certainly a downer, I gather there were a lot of other circumstances around the handling of the game (and changes in location/lifestyle also) that I’d guess were more likely for Demonstar leaving the scene.

    Certainly, if I’d signed a contract with the publishers of Train Tracking, I’d probably be wondering why I bother – but maybe thats just me reflecting how I’d deal with it?

    ‘Course, this is the internet, so it all had to be Stu’s fault really ;)

    Anyway, enough of that – its probably boring everyone else so I call 5 hours before the CEO of Variant turns up with the usual spiel trotted out every time the company gets a mention ;)

  • Hooker with a penis

    I’d still wait before I judge it. A consumer is stupid if he/she doesn’t test something before he buys, and if he gets shit – well I guess it was really his bad to buy it just like that.
    And about that whining: “WHYWHYWHY make commercial port for a freeware-game..”
    Seems out the original will stay free so.. What’s the problem?
    Just as I thought, it’s a personal issue. And then it gets projected and spread. And I also agree on a comment that MM is beside the point.
    I say Derek missed the nail badly.

  • haowan

    Pixel wouldn’t get any money out of this deal btw. And don’t you find it suspicious that Variant’s forum has been “moving to another server” since it all kicked off and people started taking them up on stealing this game.

    Variant are stealing Cave Story for their own ends, without permission and they’re clearly raping it in the process. It’s pathetic, and judging them by their history, it’s just more of the same freeloading assholery that they’ve been up to for years. Fuck heads.

  • Hooker with a penis

    WHOA!!! SHERLOCK!!! AMAZING!!! ALL TIS’ FROM “moving to another server”-MESSAGE!?!

    ..uh.. nice thing mr. private dick – um.. but, you’re wrong: Pixel DID get money.
    Also, you’re fortunetelling abilities doesn’t seem to stop amazing me – without slightest information on what the complete game will be it’s now “raped”.
    Ok, since I’m only on the human level with my abilities, maybe i should just leave this conversation.

  • Alec

    Why do you care so much?

  • Echo

    Actually, I remember quite clearly that when this first hit, Variant locked all threads on their forums that were discussing this specfic subject, claiming that they were trying to protect their “reputation”.

  • Echo

    Oh, and if Shih Tzu is reading, t’would be nice to get his say on it.

  • Hooker with a penis

    to quickly answer – I would also close some threads if all the INSANE-FANATICS would go on a temper-tantrum about something based on a hear-say.

    I care so much coz I’m so fucken tired of all these fucken stupid independent gaming/movie/music-nerds always whining and bashing everything (in every fucken forum) that even mentions a word “commercial” based on hear-say. There’s seriously no place you can go these days without someone bad-mouthing someone. “Variant’s gonna fuck the game up”. (can’t know yet) “Bethesda’s gonna fuck the FO3 up”. (can’t know yet) “Nine inch nails is so bad these days cos they’re commercial”. (it’s subjective and everything is a product anyway) “This and that movie was a sellout and sucked, coz they had a bigger budget this time..” (same as the above, now shut the fuck up!) Oh seriously – It’s so BIASED it makes me sick!
    I mean, seriously? Does anyone see here somekind of signs of a cult following?
    I guess i should quote a song that’s very apropriate for this moment then:

    “I met a boy wearing vans, 501s, and a
    Dope beastie t, nipple rings, and
    New tattoos that claimed that he
    Was ogt,
    From 92,
    The first ep.

    And in between
    Sips of coke
    He told me that
    He thought
    We were sellin out,
    Layin down,
    Suckin up
    To the man.

    Well now Ive got some
    A-dvice for you, little buddy.
    Before you point the finger
    You should know that
    Im the man,

    And if Im the man,
    Then youre the man, and
    Hes the man as well so you can
    Point that fuckin finger up your ass.

    All you know about me is what Ive sold you,
    Dumb fuck.
    I sold out long before you ever heard my name.

    I sold my soul to make a record,
    Dip shit,
    And you bought one.

    So Ive got some
    Advice for you, little buddy.
    Before you point your finger
    You should know that
    Im the man,
    If Im the fuckin man
    Then youre the fuckin man as well
    So you can
    Point that fuckin finger up your ass.

    All you know about me is what Ive sold you,
    Dumb fuck.
    I sold out long before you ever heard my name.

    I sold my soul to make a record,
    Dip shit,
    And you bought one.

    All you read and
    Wear or see and
    Hear on tv
    Is a product
    Begging for your
    Fatass dirty

    So…shut up and

    Buy my new record
    Send more money
    Fuck you, buddy.”

    Please try to understand my point here, and think about it just a lil’.. ok?

  • Shih Tzu

    I only heard about this from Pixel a couple of days ago. (ufo_z, who also translated Shine Shine Galaxy, contacted him independently.) Pixel is cool with it, apparently, so it sounds good to me.

  • Hooker with a penis

    “this comment was flagged etc.” ha-ha.. yeah! Sure – afraid when someone just doesn’t buy everything he reads from you Derek?

  • Hooker with a penis

    Now I could get all sceptical – you got something to hide? Can’t let me talk out huh? It’s somehow different now, than when there’s not a bunch of FANATICS flipping over hear-say on some forums?! Now this is OK?!

  • Echo

    Mr Hooker, sir, you are quite clearly nuts. Nobody is trying to silence you, but when you call people (for example), “mr. private dick”, you shouldn’t be surprised when you’re not taken seriously. And when you use the handle “Hooker with a penis”, you shouldn’t be surprised that an automated spam catcher is holding your comments for moderation.

    Shih Tzu: Well, nice to have that confirmed. :)

  • Hooker with a penis

    possibly, but why are my other comments here already, but the one where i answered “why I care” (quite some time ago) is not?
    I called a person “mr. private-weewee ” who himself called someone fuckhead. If you care so much about the usage of bad-words I can hold the language for now. Just don’t tell mama, ok?