Cave Story 3D Review (3DS)
You know the old phrase, “Don’t mess with success”? Well, in the video game industry, it actually has some meaning behind it. Look at the Contra series, for instance. When it stayed true to its 2D roots, fans loved it and ate it up. The second Konami tried to screw with it and turn it into a 3D extravaganza, it collapsed under the weight of expectations and became a mess. Now, I know, sometimes you have to experiment to see what works (how else would Super Mario 64 have been made?), but you’ll need to keep some aspect of the gameplay tried and true in order to keep the game from failing.
Maybe that’s why I like Cave Story 3D so much. A modernized remake of the independent PC development that came out in 2004 (and has since been reborn as a downloadable title for WiiWare and the Nintendo DSi Shop), this game hasn’t lost any spring in its step while becoming a new 3D title. That’s because the gameplay retains every bit of its richness, a Metroid-vania style of adventure that will take you several hours to conquer – if not more.
The story does grow over time, but the general gist of it is that you’re a robot that's dropped in the middle of a subterranean metropolis with strange creatures called Mimigas. What stems from there is a story for survival, but one that has a few interesting turns that keep you wondering what challenges lie ahead. Symphony of the Night it ain’t, but there’s enough here to keep you interested.
Where most of that interest lies is in the gameplay. Rather than trying to screw something into a 3D format, Cave Story sticks with the traditional puzzle-solving and action bits, working just as naturally as they did before. What’s more, the weapon system actually shows signs of innovation. You can power up a gun to the point it becomes a supergun. (Mind the lack of a better word.) Here, you’ll discover that it can serve a secondary purpose, like turning a machine gun into a propulsion tool that shoots you upward to otherwise unreachable areas. You’ll have a ball discovering what every little thing can do.
There are times you’ll get stuck with puzzles, but that’s part of the game’s immeasurable depth. The creator of the original Cave Story, Daisuke “Pixel” Amaya, reworked the game so it stayed just as challenging as before, and while the content isn’t entirely new (keep an eye out for bonus items, exclusive to the 3DS game), it’s great to see that the guy hasn’t lost his touch, even after all these years following the game’s release. Besides, if you get really stuck, you can always check Internet videos for tips.
Still, on a side note, it would’ve been nice for Cave Story 3D to come with the original game that inspired it. I’m a stickler for that sort of thing, mainly because it’s important for gamers to see what inspired such greatness to begin with. There’s a reworked mode, but it looks like an artificially crafted side mode, rather than the mini-game that should’ve been here. (On the other hand, you probably already bought the original Cave Story anyway. And if not, it’s only a few bucks out of your wallet.)
Though the first game is cheaper, Cave Story 3D does have some bells and whistles to keep you occupied. The 3D presentation, while slightly distracting at first (this is a far cry from simple pixels), is fantastic. It features beautifully designed levels and little details that pop out of the screen – which is an indication you’re playing a good 3DS title. The animations on the characters could use a little touching up, but overall, this is a fine-looking product.
The music is equally up there in greatness, with a retouched soundtrack that comes blaring out of your 3DS like a cool little jukebox. More sound effects would’ve been nice, but it’s nothing to really complain about.
So, is a $40 remake of a small-priced indie game worth investing in? Well, if you loved the first Cave Story, absolutely. Again, this isn’t entirely new territory, but rather a director’s cut of a beloved cult classic, with the kind of touch-ups that do it credit rather than dragging out the proceedings. Plus, the soundtrack is killer and the unique gameplay still stands out over most other platformers for the system. With pure inspiration and fun backing it up, this Cave Story is worth delving into.