Cave Story Review

Cave Story [WiiWare, PC]
ESRB Rating: E10+
Number of players: 1
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Nicalis
Developer: Studio Pixel Nicalis
Release Date: March 22nd, 2010

Parent Talk: Cave Story is whimsical and funny, and intentionally made to look retro (though not like Mega Man 9/10).  It looks more like a PC-Engine or SNES game, with great animation and color.  Cave Story features mild violence that’s free of gore and blood.  There are character deaths and dark themes, but they’re dealt with in a way that a kid can handle it.  The characters are colorful and fun to talk to, making CS a treat to look at and engage with.  Younger gamers might have difficulty with the complex exploration, but the adventure is a modestly easy one for all ages.  It’s ideal for parents and child to go at together.

Cave Story (WiiWare) is a remake of the 2004 PC game.  Enhanced graphics, new features, and the ability to play on a console for the first time spice up this package.  It’s free for download on PC, but the WiiWare version is presented in widescreen, has remixed music [along with the original soundtrack], improved visuals (along with the original style), and new modes.  Time Attack, Boss Rush, and Curly’s Story are all different offerings.  The WiiWare product is clearly superior and the developers deserve support for their hard work.

The Great: This is a wonderful adventure that borrows heavily from many classics.  It often feels like Metroid with the exploration, but Cave Story is plenty unique on its own.  Many have compared the game to a forgotten classic, and truthfully, it really feels like discovering a gem you never knew existed.  It’s balanced and fun, with imaginative characters and great gameplay.

The Good:

+ The presentation.  The resolution is higher and everything sharper, and the option to play the original style is there.  The remixed music is well-done and enjoyable.  The great classic music is thrown in too to satisfy enthusiasts.

+ The control.  Cave Story feels natural to play.  It supports the Classic Controller, thankfully, to make control a breeze.  The NES-style Wii remote is also effective.

+ The creator helped translate the Japanese script into English.  The dialogue is priceless, with great bouts of banter between characters.  The main character is mute, but the remaining cast has a lot to say, which typically ends up amusing.  There are sad moments as well.

-The added modes for the WiiWare version.  Time Attack Mode, Boss Rush, and Curly Story all add a healthy dose of longevity.  The main adventure is surprisingly vast, with lots of secrets to discover, but Curly Story allows you to play a completely new quest.  The Time Attack and Boss Rush Mode are rather self-explanatory, and welcome additions.

The Bad:

– Some of the boss fights are too recycled.  I understand that it’s a running joke, but Balrog shows up an awful lot.  He’s a funny character though, with his Kool-Aid Man style entrance.  OH YEAHHH!

-The game has already available for years on the PC…for free.  The WiiWare version is definitely superior, but fans of the original may be hesistant to pay for an upgrade.  Still, it’s worth it.

-Some fights are too easy.  Some bosses never forced me to dodge or plan a strategy; I button-mashed them to death.  Thankfully not every encounter is like this.

The Lowdown: Yes, Cave Story is a free download on PC, but ignoring this remade version would be a great disservice to those responsible and yourself.  Why?  The heart and soul put in is evident, with all the additions and improvements.  It really is worth the $12 price tag.  The adventure is amazingly fun, and easily one of the most “complete” yet released on WiiWare.  It’s obvious why CS enjoys such a rabid fan base; this is like the Wii’s answer to Shadow Complex…only cutesy and retro.

One thought on “Cave Story Review”

  1. Nice review, Tim. Especially loved the comparison in the last line. That’s so true!

    From what I’ve played, I really need to give mad props to Pixel. Can’t believe how awesome this game is. So worth 1200 points since I’m not the type that’s comfortable with PC controls anyway.

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