reviews\ Apr 15, 2010 at 8:00 pm

Cave Story - WII - Review


Arguably one of the greatest indie games of all time, Cave Story first made its presence known in 2004, when developer Studio Pixel released the game as a freeware title on the PC. Now, six years later, Nintendo and Nicalis bring Studio Pixel’s 2D action-adventure to WiiWare for 1200 Wii Points ($12). Considering this game can still be downloaded for free, is it worth paying $12 for it? The answer is simple: yes.

Cave Story is the tale of an amnesiac boy—a robot in the original version of the game—who finds himself in a dark cave one day. After a bit of exploration, the boy stumbles upon the Mimiga tribe, a race of rabbit-like inhabitants who are being terrorized by an evil scientist (referred to in the game simply as The Doctor). You play as the young boy as he sets out to save the Mimiga, attempts to stop The Doctor’s plans, and forms a bond with the charming Curly Brace.

Cave Story’s gameplay has garnered comparisons to classic NES titles such as Metroid, Kid Icarus, and Castlevania, and it is definitely right up there with those titles. Rather than just featuring simple platforming, Cave Story’s gameplay includes a lot of collection, exploration, and gunplay. You’ll have to find keys to unlock doors, collect special items to progress through the game, and upgrade your weapons. Defeated enemies drop Weapon Crystals, which can be collected to level up weapons. Doing this is essential to the gameplay as it won’t be long before you stumble upon strong enemies and bosses.

You’ll find various upgrades throughout the course of your adventure. As you play you’ll discover health upgrades, missile upgrades, and other such items to aid you in your quest. You’ll definitely want to seek out and take advantage of these upgrades as Cave Story is not to be taken lightly. Underneath its charming exterior lies a challenging game that, at times, may have you questioning whether you can get past that certain boss or through that grueling level.

Throughout your travels you’ll also encounter countless memorable characters. Interacting with these characters will help you learn more about the Mimiga tribe, further the plot, and at times grant you with key items essential to getting through the game. There’s a large cast of colorful characters, and you’ll find yourself chuckling one moment and discovering some dark plot detail the next.

The folks over at Nicalis decided to throw some bonus material into Studio Pixel’s project, and everything here is very much welcomed. You can play using the game’s original graphics and sound, or you can set the game to feature all-new graphics and sound. There are also three difficulties included in the game, and Cave Story diehards may want to check out the game’s Hard mode. In addition to these alterations, there are also some bonus modes strewn in for good measure. Boss Rush lets you take on all of the game’s bosses, Sanctuary Time Attack lets you play through the game’s most punishing level and set a fast time in it. Lastly, you can play through the game as the popular Curly Brace. All of these inclusions are welcome additions, and their presence definitely adds to the overall package.

Graphically, Cave Story’s original visuals are very reminiscent of a high-caliber NES game. Character design is great, locales feature nice touches and details, and the color palette is rich and vibrant. Players who opt to toggle the new graphics will also see a lot to like. These new graphics feature finer details and clearer backgrounds, and they’re just as charming as the game’s retro graphics.

The game’s soundtrack is right up there with the graphics. The original soundtrack is superb and features a ton of great themes. Like the graphics, the music in the game is retro, and it has a definite electronica/indie/synthpop sound to it. Unfortunately, the updated soundtrack isn’t as spectacular as the original, and it leaves much to be desired.

Gamers who shell out the 1200 Wii Points for the game will find that Cave Story has a good amount of lasting value. Those who played the original and know what to expect are likely to get through the main quest in about five or six hours. Newcomers, however, will find themselves taking considerably longer. Throw in the game’s multiple difficulties, multiple endings, hidden secrets, and bonus modes, and you definitely get your money’s worth here.

It’s hard to put a price on a game like Cave Story. The game has been free for the better part of six years, and now Nintendo has put a $12 price tag on it. But despite the fact that Cave Story can be acquired for the very low price of $0, it’s difficult not to recommend the WiiWare version. This is essentially the same game that Studio Pixel released six years ago, but it features enough extra content to justify a purchase. It’s also perfect for those gamers who aren’t too into the whole PC gaming thing. Additionally, it’s worth supporting a quality title such as Cave Story and the efforts of developer Pixel. Cave Story on WiiWare is a fantastic download for those who enjoyed the original and newcomers alike.


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