“Moon Song” is from Cave Story (2004), a game designed and composed by Pixel, a Japanese independent developer. The piece plays on the outside of the floating island, with clouds rushing in the background and the bright moon shining over it all. The song is calming, almost a lullaby, and develops some nice layering in the first section before progressing into the theme. It’s reassuring and soothing.
I think the track has more meaning due to its placement in the game. “Moon Song” plays outside of the floating mountain, and it is a transition area from the lower inside half of the cave to the top where the main prison and the boss lies. Cave Story gets progressively sadder as more and more of the protagonist’s friends die. What is also striking about this music is that in this stage, the player has the opportunity to leave the island instead of ascending, sealing the island to its doom. So it is also a song that plays for the worst ending.
The final striking thing about the soundtrack – as well as the game – is it was all designed by one guy during his spare time. He’d spend an hour or two on it after work each day, and over the course of about ten years completed it, making it one of the largest, best-designed, and most complex indy game ever. The game was freely distributed and became instantly popular. It has since been ported over to Wii Ware. My only gripe about the soundtrack that came with the Deluxe Edition of the game is that the tracks don’t seem to fade out properly. But it’s a really fantastic game and I absolutely have to recommend it.