I'm playing through Cave Story on hard, and am a bit puzzled by how fast weapons are upgraded to their maximum level. The only 'hard' aspect seems to be the limited amount of hits you can take. Nowhere can I check which difficulty level I am playing on to double check whether I did select 'Hard' when starting the game.

Quite an easy question: Is this normal?

In what way is gaining experience/hitpoints affected by the difficulty level you select?

3 Answers 3


The thing about weapons in cavestory, is that getting hit will cost you XP. Your weapons gain XP so quickly, becuase if you get hit at all, you need more XP to recharge.

This is especially true with the Blade, where even losing 1 single hitpoint is enough to knock you down from level 3 to level 2.

There's also a weapon later on in the game that is most powerful when it's level 1, and actually decreases with "level ups".

You gain XP so quickly because XP tends to fluctuate quite a bit anyways.

This doesn't change based on the difficulty level, but if you're on Hard, that means you're invariably losing less XP from getting hit, because getting hit usually means you're dead.


Weapon experience to level up isn't meant to be a major limiting factor - just a small influencing factor. It's not the kind of game where you're supposed to grind yourself for extended periods of time. Rather, by normal progression, you should easily be able to maximize your armaments, and not suffer too much trouble if you get hit on a normal but not excessive basis. Difficulty level does not affect this.

This is balanced by a number of factors, though.

  • Certain weapons like the Blade have no experience buffer past level 3. So any hit levels you down instantly. The penalty here is geared towards things like boss fights, which makes these weapons a case of "Cannot get hit". Outside of boss fights, fixing up the "damage" is relatively easy and intentionally so.
  • The weapon Nemesis actually gets weaker as you level it up. So this is a problem for the relative ease of gaining experience.
  • There are two points in the game where your weapon levels may be completely reset to 0. As these happen fairly late game, there then comes a very strong management for getting the experience to level the right weapons up. By having levelling be not too difficult, it's a challenge without being excessively annoying.

In essence, leveling is intentionally easy, to allow for better focus on limits by other means.

  • 1
    It's an original game design, but the game would have benefited from a less traditional representation of it. This could have prevented me from expecting this 'traditional' behavior. Commented Feb 2, 2012 at 19:54

It is normal. XP is really abundant in Cave Story, regardless of your difficulty. But keep in mind that you lose XP everytime you take a hit.

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