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Cave Story Review (eShop Edition)

About.com Rating 5 Star Rating

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Cave Story

Cave Story

Image © Pixel
If you’re a fan of independent games, retro games, or if you just like darn good platforming games, then it’s likely that you’ve already made the acquaintance of Cave Story, a stellar action game developed by Daisuke “Pixel” Ayama. Not that long ago, Cave Storywas confined to the PC, but Nicalis has since made the game widely available through multiple releases across Steam, the Wii Shop Channel, the Nintendo DSi Shop, and most recently, the Nintendo 3DS eShop.

By now you should have a good idea of what you’re getting when you invest in Cave Story. The question is, do you need another copy? That’s an automatic “Yes!!” in some people’s books, since there is absolutely nothing wrong with “collecting” different copies of such a wonderful game. Moreover, the eShop version of Cave Story is probably the most complete thanks to the inclusion of extras and a wide-screen mode. Also, it’s portable. Honestly? You just can’t lose.

Developer: Pixel
Publisher: Nicalis
Genre: Action
ESRB Rating: E10+
Compatible With: Nintendo 3DS
Price: $9.99 USD

GOOD: The classic Cave Story gameplay formula still shines. Lots of features that aren’t in the Nintendo DSi version of the game. New widescreen view.

BAD: No customizable controls. Is more or less the same version of the game that’s offered on Steam.

THE BASICS: Going Underground Again

You initially play through Cave Story as Quote, a little robot soldier who wakes up with amnesia in a network of caves under a floating island. Shortly after coming to, you learn about the plight of the Mimigas, a tribe of rabbit-like people. The Mimigas are being exploited and destroyed by an evil doctor, and it’s up to you to do the “hero” thing.

Cave Story has a surprisingly deep and compelling story for an action game, and what you see on the surface isn’t necessarily the whole tale. Characters’ fates split, acquaintances come and go—sometimes violently—and if you have the stomach and skill, you can even journey into Hell to learn the secrets of a mage-king gone mad.

The eShop version of Cave Story has plenty of extras that you can indulge in if you’re feeling brave. You can play through the story again as Quote’s pal, Curly Brace. You can also fight through the Wind Fortress, the Boss Rush, and more.

GAMEPLAY: Welcome to the Old School

Cave Story is a side-scrolling action game that includes features from 8- and- 16-bit classics like Metroid, Mega Man, and Castlevania. Quote primarily moves from left to right (though there is plenty of backtracking!), and blasts enemies with a multitude of upgradable weapons. There are several levels to explore, and each one offers up tons of running, jumping, and climbing. There are also bosses galore.

Cave Story is fine-tuned for expert platform fans, though it’s highly accessible for newcomers, too. There’s also a difficulty selection if you’re just not confident enough to go at the game full-tilt—or if you want a super-hard challenge.

Cave Story has long been famous for its razor-sharp controls, and that remains the case with this version. You may fail several times in your quest to defeat the Doctor, but if you die, the blame lies squarely on your skill (or lack thereof)—never on unresponsive or finicky controls. If you’ve been feeling frustrated with potentially great iOS/Android games that fall flat because of lousy touch-screen controls, Cave Story for 3DS is your balm. That said, customizable control schemes would be nice.

GRAPHICS AND SOUND: Pieces of History

Unlike Nicalis’s Cave Story for WiiWare, this version of the game doesn’t have any redrawn graphics or re-composed music. What you get is Cave Story in its rawest form, including the pixel-based artwork and the chiptunes. Luckily, both are packed with personality. If the music for the Egg Corridor doesn’t get your blood pumping, you may want to check in with your doctor and verify that you still have a beating heart. It would be nice if the game offered the option to minimize sound effects, since they tend to overwhelm the soundtrack at times.

CONCLUSION: Begin Rescue Mission

The Nintendo 3DS eShop release of Cave Story offers significant improvements over the Nintendo DSi release. Whereas the DSi version of the game was more of a straight port of the original PC experience, the eShop’s Cave Story has lots of extra features in addition to the new (and compelling) widescreen view.

If you’re utterly burnt out on Cave Story, you can go ahead and skip this one. However, if you’re looking for a Cave Story fix that you can carry with you on the go, don’t think twice about hopping onto the eShop. Save the Mimigas!
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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