Cubed3 Nintendo gaming, Wii and DS

Cave Story (3DS eShop) Review

Review for Cave Story on 3DS eShop - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Cave Story heralded the start of the indie era; it's the game that put retro on the map and brought pixel art back into vogue. The 3DS version has made it new again, with 3D layers and new game modes. In 2004 it established what is thought of as "indie": small, focused, with gameplay and aesthetics that run counter to big-name games, often very retro, and with an affordable price. After Cave Story struck it big, Daisuke Amaya (a.k.a. Pixel) remixed and redesigned the game as Cave Story+ with more features. This is a look at that the 3DS eShop version of the game.

Metroid is undeniably the inspiration for Cave Story - the cave backgrounds would be at home in the NES classic, the shooting and enemy movement patterns are similar to it, and even the "item acquisition" jingle is a playful take on Metroid's tune. However, for all the dues Cave Story pays to Samus Aran, it is in fact its own game.

Anyone familiar with Metroid Fusion, the 2002 adventure for the Game Boy Advance, will already be prepared for Cave Story. Fusion was a much more linear take on the Metroid formula. Rather than freeform exploration with zero direction, Fusion explicitly told the player where they needed to go. Cave Story is similar as nobody will be at a loss for where to go next, although sometimes there may be a need to consult a computer or an inventory object to learn the objective.

Screenshot for Cave Story on 3DS eShop - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

The journey to the goal is always going to be charming; from pixel art to music, Cave Story nails the retro aesthetic. It reaches back to the past, adhering to strict sprite design and chiptune limitations. That's not a negative point, unless, of course, your games need to have max polys with max textures and max bloom with maxxed out particle physics and 128 player online death-matches! If that is the case, then avoid this game. If not, then Cave Story is a remarkable homage to the days when sprites were built pixel-by-pixel, animation was done frame-by-frame, and chiptunes layered note-by-note in a synthesizer programme, until they were just right.

It would be an easy mistake to consider Cave Story "simple." Everything about the artistic design harkens to a simpler time, after all, yet it would be wrong to call the gameplay basic. Weapon levels have to be managed with chips dropped by enemies and are de-levelled when the player takes damage, there are numerous branching story paths, the full tree of which is only unlocked with multiple play-throughs, there are secret levels and multiple endings and hidden upgrades all over the map, there are boss encounters that will test your skills as a gamer, and so on. This is a game that asks gamers to play again and again, a task that is a joy to perform.

Screenshot for Cave Story on 3DS eShop - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Gameplay

Tight shooting and platform mechanics drive a fundamentally perfect retro experience. Anyone with experience of Metroid, or NES side-scrollers in general, will feel at home playing Cave Story. Boss challenge and enemy difficulty will push players to perform at a high level.

Graphics

Nicely detailed pixel art provides a visually pleasing experience, from start to finish. Every character is well detailed and full of character. Levels effectively evoke the proper ambience, from dark caves to cloud-filled skies. Colour palette is well suited to the task, with pastel neon gun-blasts and subdued level background greys and blues that cause characters to "pop."

Sound

A layered chiptune soundtrack that exemplifies the strengths of NES era songs: unique driving beats overlaid with catchy melodies. A jukebox mode allows the playing all of the game's tunes.

Value

The 3DS+ version of Cave Story includes numerous modes not found in the freeware version, such as a Boss Rush mode, a Time Attack mode, Curly's Story mode, and extra secret levels and endings. It is priced appropriately, matching Steam and other services. The 3D layers look very nice and provide a nice depth to the game's visuals.

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

About this score
Rated 9 out of 10

Cave Story deserves the praise it has garnered over the years. The amount of work that has been poured into it shows, from music to art to level design and gameplay. It is a well-designed, challenging, fun, evocative experience that rewards multiple play-throughs. Satisfying alternate character stories and plot ensure that multiple play-throughs are not just exercises in repetition. Anyone who enjoys action games, side-scrolling shooting or retro games should look into Cave Story.

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10.03.2013

3

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Developer

Nicalis

Publisher

Nicalis

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date TBA   North America release date Out now   Japan release date TBA   Australian release date TBA   

Reader comments - add yours today Comments on this Review

Anybody know when this will be released in the UK? I've been waiting on this release for a while now, along with Nightsky which is awesome!

Add me on anything. I'm always looking for new friends/opponents/town visitors/chances to appear more popular than I actually am.
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Absolutely no idea, I've been following developments avidly; of which there have been almost none since like October. I can't believe how long it's taking them and I'm starting to worry they just won't release it here at all.

Twitter | C3 Writer/Moderator | Backloggery
Staff Member

SuperLink said:
Absolutely no idea, I've been following developments avidly; of which there have been almost none since like October. I can't believe how long it's taking them and I'm starting to worry they just won't release it here at all.
Well, they didn't release the DSiWare one in the UK. (Or did they?) So yeah... I wonder if they'll release one.

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Mush said:
SuperLink said:
Absolutely no idea, I've been following developments avidly; of which there have been almost none since like October. I can't believe how long it's taking them and I'm starting to worry they just won't release it here at all.
Well, they didn't release the DSiWare one in the UK. (Or did they?) So yeah... I wonder if they'll release one.

They didn't. They've been saying the DSi and 3DS ones will come out at the same time.. but that was like half a year ago and there's been nothing.

Twitter | C3 Writer/Moderator | Backloggery

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