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Grace Note said, in an answer I hadn't read until it was too late:

The best ending is achieved by following specific requirements at certain points in the game. It's very difficult to explain without any spoilers, but it involves skipping certain events and items to get better items at a later point, and making sure you follow through on an optional sequence of events.

Well, five minutes ago I got stuck for long enough in Cave Story+ to finally fire up a walkthrough for the game. I was in Labyrinth B, looking for a power source of sorts, and I thought I'd done everything there needs to be done in the general neightbourhood, zealously saving after each event. Then I read:

There are several ways to get to the door: [a door I'd already reached]

  • If you have the Machine Gun on level 3, boost upwards by firing it down. [like I've been doing for ages now]
  • Go ahead past Monster X, talk to Professor Booster, and get the Booster 0.8. [yeah, I've got that] This will cause you to lose your chance to get the Booster 2.0 later [what? why?], and also keep you from getting the best ending [OH GOD WHAT?], but it will allow you to use the Booster 0.8 to reach the door to the room with the Arms Barrier. [no, god! no, god, please, no! no! NO! NOOOOOOOOO-]

I had done that five minutes ago. Three hours of progress down the bin. He didn't even ask me if I wanted the stupid booster or not.

  • Do I want to get the best ending, or is it something so incredibly hard (think "I Wanna Be The Guy!" difficulty) that's best left ignored pretending it doesn't exist?
  • Is this path even available at all on Easy difficulty, what I'm playing on?
  • What is it I must and, most importantly, must not do to get the best ending?
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With the event of missing the arms barrier, couldn't you go back once you have Booster V 2.0? –  Shadow Zorgon Apr 17 at 0:42
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2 Answers

up vote 25 down vote accepted

I will say up front that I don't think that Easy difficulty affects this, but I've only played the original. However, unless they felt like being callous, it shouldn't have an impact (considering you can access the Best Ending in other alternate game modes as well).

The Best Ending isn't incredibly difficult unless you (like me) are playing at 3 Health. If you've been picking up all the health increases and arm yourself properly, you should be able to accomplish it eventually. So I would recommend going for it because it is a nice ending. As well, even if you meet the requirements for the best ending, you can always opt to still take the normal ending (or even the bad ending).

You basically need two things to get the Best Ending. This is obviously a spoiler but you're literally asking for it, and a 90% spoiler post looks stupid. You need the Booster 2.0 and you need Curly. All the big points you need to make sure to not screw up are all in bold below.

Booster 2.0

  • For Professor Booster to survive, he needs to keep the Booster 0.8. So you can't take it from him - this means when you see him fall past you in the labyrinth, don't drop down. Instead, jump across the gap (you can do it with a good moving start or just use Machine Gun lv. 3 if you have it) and continue onwards.
  • Later on when you return to the Mimiga Village, Professor Booster will warp into Arthur's house. He will have completed the Booster 2.0 and will give it to you. Objective complete.

Curly

  • When you access the Labyrinth Core room for the first time, do not immediately investigate the robots (which triggers the boss fight). Instead, drop down to the bottom right corner of the room, there should be something shiny. Pick up that Tow Rope, you'll need it, and it washes away if you don't pick it up now.
  • When you defeat the Labyrinth Core boss fight, Misery floods the room and Curly gives you her oxygen tank. If you picked up the Tow Rope I had just told you to, go examine Curly and you should use the item to grab Curly and bring her with you.
  • In the ensuing water ways sequence, make sure to stop at the cabin on the way. Put Curly on the bed and examine the bookshelf to find instructions on how to drain the water out of her. Go do just that, and remember to take her with you when you leave. She'll drift away after fighting Ironhead, this is expected.
  • Much later on in the Plantation area, head to the bottom right of the whole map and you'll find Curly and another guy. Talk to both of them to get caught up on the story and learn about a mushroom you need to grab in the Mimiga Graveyard.
  • Backtrack to the Mimiga Graveyard and use your fancy new Booster 2.0 to get to the previously inaccessible door. There, you'll find a mushroom. Pass his quizzical bombardment, and you'll get a Mushroom Badge. Examine that badge and then talk to that conniving mushroom so that you can get the real mushroom. By force.
  • Return to the Plantation and give Curly the mushroom. The ensuing conversation gives you a ton of backstory and also completes the requirements to have Curly. After you finish your conversation, talk to her again to get the Iron Bond.

With both Curly in tow and the Booster 2.0, you gain access to the Best Ending. This does two things you will want to be aware of, though.

First, it does indeed ramp up the difficulty of the Last Cave section. It ends up filled with more spikes, and all of your weapon experience levels are dropped to 1 at the start. It isn't a severe ramp in difficulty, though, just a taste of what is to come. This shouldn't worry you as you'll have the Booster 2.0, which is worth it, and the difficulty spike isn't that strong.

Second, after you beat the final boss, during your escape, you should pass by the house you had last used as a save point. This door would be closed if you failed the requirements. Inside will be another door that leads to the Sacred Grounds. This is an extra dungeon that you must clear, upon which you'll receive the Best Ending. You do get the option to use the Save Point again so you don't have to re-fight the final boss. As I mentioned earlier, though, this is optional and so if you want to you can always ignore the house and settle for the Normal Ending.

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I just recently started this game for the first time and, while I rescued Curly and got her to the cabin, I left her there expecting she would recover on her own. You can't get back to the waterway again so I'm also boned. Luckily, I enjoy this game, so it just means I get to play it again! :3 –  Shinrai Dec 15 '11 at 15:21
    
...that should be in bold. –  Grace Note Dec 15 '11 at 15:23
    
Note that holding onto the Polar Star instead of getting the Machinegun gives you the upgraded Polar Star, which is super effective when all of your weapon levels are dropped to 1 because the upgraded Polar Star does not level (its power increases while holding down fire). –  Sadly Not Feb 21 '13 at 1:55
    
Note that if you forget to talk to Momorin (Sue's mom) next to the rocket just before leaving the plantation, then you won't get the Booster 2.0 back and hence won't be entering the harder Last Cave and you'll miss out on the best ending. If you have a save right before the Last Cave, though, you can still drop down and fix this. –  Mark S. Feb 9 at 7:47
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A tip for jumping over that cliff where professor Booster falls down, without Machine Gun:

  • Use that savepoint first, because if you fail this jump, you won't get back up without booster 0.8 which means you fail getting 2.0 which means you fail at Best ending.
  • At the left side (where you're coming from) there is a block with a red dot. Run towards the cliff to get momentum and jump right BEFORE (or right over) that red dot, press jump button all the way through the jump and you should clear the jump fine.

The dot is there in Cave Story+. I can't remember if it was there in original CS.

And another thing, if you go back to that prefab building to enter the Sacred Grounds, you can save and still get to normal ending since checking the bookshelf will give you choice to rewind a bit. So if the doorway to that house is open, there's really no reason not to go in.

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I don't remember if it was a red dot, but there was definitely some sort of mark for when you should jump in the original Cave Story as well. –  Fambida Feb 10 '12 at 12:08
    
Oh, didn't notice this. Yes, the red dot is present in the original Cave Story, in the same location. I actually didn't know if it was present in Cave Story+, which is why I glossed over that. Thanks for pointing it out! –  Grace Note Mar 12 '13 at 18:34
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