Nov 042011

Six months ago, if you had told me that the 2D 8-Bit freeware game Cave Story would be remade into a fully 3D adventure for the Nintendo 3DS, I would have scoffed. More than scoffed, I would have trolled you right under the table. I probably would have said something to the effect of “LOLZ WHY SHOULD I PAY MONEY FOR A GAME I CAN PLAY FOR FREE ON MY COMPUTER??!! LOLZ!!!!!!!!11!one”, but that’s only because remakes of games are not usually something of interest to me. However, indie games are of interest to me, and since Cave Story for the PC and Wii have such a deep pool of fans, my interest was piqued when I heard NIS America would be publishing a remake for the 3DS. Would Cave Story 3d be able to enamor fans the way the original did? Let’s suit up and delve into this game’s subterranean levels to find out!

Cave Story 3D follows the adventure of an armed-to-the-teeth soldier who finds himself in a city beneath the surface of a floating island. Initially, your main objective seems to simply be to leave the cave city, but the adorable bunny people that live in the city need some help fending off the evil villain simply known as Doctor. To find a way out of the city you will also have to help the Mimigas (the aforementioned adorable bunny people) in their time of need by using various projectile weapons like missiles and fireball launchers to mow down the scores of enemies in your path. These creatures will be anything from flying jellyfish to stationary ghosts that shoot red laser beams out of their eyes, but they all have one thing in common — they’re no match for our heroes portable arsenal. This may sound like typical platformer fare at first, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Eventually, the tone and direction of the story takes a turn towards darker matters, bringing up war and the subjugation of a weaker race, just to name a couple. The dialogue used to relay this story is both well-written and endearing, and helps to drive home the impression that the developer valued storytelling as a key element of game design.

The "desert" area is jus one of the many various locales you'll visit in Cave story 3D.

This game falls easily into the “Metroidvania” classification of games. At its core, Cave Story 3D is a platformer but it has a larger amount of exploration than most games in this genre do. Players will feel an incredible sense of being connected to the large world you’re exploring, because you will have to rummage through every nook and cranny to get all of the health and weapon upgrades that will be needed to survive your adventure. To fully see every inch of the game’s world, you will often have to backtrack once you have obtained the ability or item needed to progress past a barrier you previously encountered. The main cave serves as sort of a hub, and has a lot of different locales within it. There are places ranging from a pristine fishing hole, to a spooky graveyard. From this cave, you will teleport to other places like a dragon egg hatchery and a grassland. Tons of variety was put into the design of these levels so they will always feel fresh and new.

Furthering this connection between player and game are the NPCs. Interacting with them will be crucial to your success, and often times you will have to initiate dialogue with them two or three times to find out everything they have to offer. You will become attached to them because of their quirky lines of speech and their adorable bunny faces. This is one of the few games that isn’t afraid to kill off these NPCs, and most players will feel a slight twinge of sadness when this happens due to their attachment to the characters.

Even if it wasn’t for the great storytelling and the interesting, large world you will be exploring, the visuals and music of Cave Story 3d would be enough to wow any 3DS owner. The 3D effect is incredibly well handled, and for the most part is able to be viewed with the 3D slider turned all the way up with out any of the “ghosting” or doubling of the image that can be seen on other 3DS games on the same setting. The one negative point against the visuals is that most of the environments are very dark, so playing them in any sort of outdoor lighting situation is nearly impossible.

The fantastic soundtrack makes up for any of the game’s minor graphical shortcomings. The songs all conjure up memories of gaming days gone by, with modernized chiptune tracks that are good at portraying appropriate moods during the game. Often the tracks will fell grandiose and adventurous, but they also feel sad and lonely at just the right times. Often, I found myself at the start of a new level just observing the awesome visuals and tapping my toe to the great music before sending my little soldier out on the next leg of his adventure.

Fireball gun!

It’s a good thing I didn’t listen to my inner internet troll when I was thinking about Cave Story 3D because the developers did an excellent job of capturing the magic of the original game all over again. It is a game that makes keen storytelling just as important of a game element as graphics or soundtrack, and that is a rare thing to see in this gaming generation. Broad level design will sometimes leave you searching your head as you backtrack to make sure you searched every corner for the item you need to advance the story, but the fantastic visuals and incredible soundtrack make all this time spent seem entertaining and worthwhile. If you played the PC and WiiWare versions of this game and are curious about playing it on the 3DS, you won’t be sorry you did. If you’ve never watched the mysteries unfold beneath the surface of this peculiar floating island, then there is no better time to check it out than when the game hits store shelves on November 8th.

Cave Story 3D

Sprawling level design will keep you occupied for hours, great soundtrack and visuals will keep you entertained while you're playing, really well-written story with characters you are invested in. Sometimes the areas are a little too dark, but you are in a giant cave most of the time.
VerdictCave Story 3D would be an excellent addition to anyone's 3DS library.

  One Response to “Cave Story 3D | Review (3DS)”

  1. I am dying to play this game. I fell in love with the WiiWare version and when this was announced I knew I had to get it.

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