Cave Story 3D Review

Cave Story 3D [Available on 3DS]
ESRB Rating: E10+
Players: 1
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: NIS America
Developer: Nicalis
Release Date: November 8th, 2011

Parent Talk: Cave Story is a classic adventure game. It started off as an independently made PC game from Japanese creator Daisuke Amaya, aka “Pixel” and has since become a video game success story. The cute characters and fun gameplay make it a suitable game for kids of all ages, though the difficulty level may frustrate younger gamers.

Plays Like: A combination of old-school NES games like Metroid and Mega Man.

Review Basis: Completed the game and got the Bad, Good, and Great endings. I have also completed the PC, WiiWare, and DSiWare versions of the game.

The Great: A fantastic adventure and an indie success story! Cave Story is an amazing game. From start to finish, it oozes personality and charm. It engrosses a player far more than even most modern games can and it reminds us of what is most important. If you are a dedicated gamer with fond memories of the 8-bit era, this game is for you. The platforming and shooting mechanics are spot-on, with tight controls and satisfying action. The story has a meaningful, lighthearted tone for the most part, but it has several genuinely dark moments. It’s truly humbling to think that what began as a lone passion project for one man became a full retail release, but here we are.

The Good:

+ The characters are easy to like. Cave Story goes easy on the “cuteness.” Characters are never irritating or unwelcome. They are well designed, both in terms of character art and as part of the story.

+ The 3D graphics are fantastic. The original version paid homage to classic side-scrolling adventure games. Taking that kind of game and reworking it in a new visual style poses challenges, but Nicalis pulled it off. Characters and levels come to life in sprawling new environments. The 3D effect helps add to the game even more but making the rooms and dungeons feel deeper and bigger. It gives the impression that the game is even bigger, giving you a sense of scale. It is not an element integral to the game’s original design though; the original game functioned perfectly fine without it. However, it’s worth noting that the 3D features are appealing.

+ Redone music retains the feeling of the original and sounds great.

+ The Classic Mode is a fun option for fans of the original game, replacing all of the 3D character models with the original 2D character sprites. It’s similar to Nintendo’s Paper Mario series.

+ A new weapon and a certain NIS character are hidden in the game, and I certainly mean HIDDEN.

+ Cave Story is a short, satisfying adventure with replay value. This is the kind of game you can finish in a dedicated playthrough. It doesn’t need dozens of hours to complete. However, it’s definitely the kind of game you can complete multiple times because of the number of secrets, the extra endings, and the general fun factor. It’s a great game to run through once in a while.

The Bad:

-No significant upgrades or additions. Aside from a few hidden secrets, there aren’t any real additions to the game. No real story elements of note have been added and the level design only has some subtle changes. This could have been an opportunity to add a lot of new content, but unfortunately the developers did not capitalize on it.

-The extra modes from the WiiWare and DSiWare versions are missing! The Music Player, Boss Rush, and Curly Modes from the other versions of this game did not make it into the full retail release. Shouldn’t the more expensive, retail version of the game be the best one available?

-The original graphics and sound are not available. Purists of the original game may be disappointed that you cannot play the game in its original format, though the Classic Mode comes close.

The Ugly:

-Intense fights and more difficult platforming sections are even more difficult with the 3D effect turned on. During some tougher battles, it’s expected that you will mash on the fire button as quickly as possible. However, doing so will mean you may shake your 3DS and lose that “sweet spot” necessary for viewing 3D.

What’s New? Cave Story 3D features completely redone graphics, and of course, 3D support. The music has also been completely redone. No new gameplay elements of any significance have been added, however, there are a few new secrets to uncover.

3DS vs. Other Versions:

3DS: The 3DS version’s strongest asset is its visual design. The redone graphics are fantastic and show a classic game off in a new light. Of course, you have the same classic adventure, along with the Time Trial Mode.

WiiWare: The WiiWare version offers Cave Story in its original, pure form, along with a remixed version. The redone graphics and music are not a significant upgrade, but at least offer something new. The WiiWare version also offers Time Trial, Boss Rush, and Curly Mode. The Boss Rush and Curly Modes are absent in other versions of the game. The WiiWare version is available via the Wii Shopping Channel for $12. You can read our review of the WiiWare version here.

DSi: The DSiWare version is accessible either via the DSi Store or the 3DS eShop for only $10. Unlike the WiiWare version, it does not offer redone graphics or sound. This version of the game has Time Trial Mode and a Music Player.

PC: The original game is still offered for free via PC, but offers none of the modes listed above.

The Lowdown:

Cave Story 3DS is redundant at worst, especially for those who have already experienced the game in another form. It is unquestionably fun and timeless, though your appreciation of this version may hinge on whether or not you have already played the adventure. If you’re unfamiliar with the game, weigh what’s most important to you and go from there. The 3DS version is more expensive than the rest, but offers the benefit of improved graphics, 3D effects, and a couple hidden secrets for good measure. On the other hand, the WiiWare version boasts the most content relative to the price. Also, if you just want to play the original, the original version is available via the 3DS eShop for only $10. Still, all things considered, Cave Story is worth your time and attention, no matter which version you choose.

Score: 8/10

4 thoughts on “Cave Story 3D Review”

  1. After paying about the same price for the WiiWare version, I don’t think I want to buy it again. Don’t get me wrong, Pixel put so much effort into this game that it’s totally worth paying a “full” price for it (I’ve paid way more for really terrible games), but I think I enjoyed this game on the big screen so much (and with classic graphics!) that downgrading it to a handheld format would be a shame. I haven’t yet played a 3DS game where the 3D option really added anything significant to the experience.

    Also, what’s the deal with the retail, hard copy version costing $40? Are people really going to buy it at four times the cost of the downloadable version just to have a hard copy?

    1. That’s definitely understandable, that’s an issue I tried to make pretty clear in the review too. I think that Cave Story is definitely a game worth supporting, given how much Pixel put into it. But I don’t expect people to buy every single version of the game, that’s a little silly. The WiiWare version is pretty much the best option right now, because it has the original graphics and sound along with a remixed version, in addition to tons of new modes.

      I agree about the price too. Cave Story 3D is still an awesome game, judged on its own merits, so the review score is…a little “off” if you get my meaning. I would’t say the 3D effect here adds something entirely dynamic, but it looks pretty cool and makes the environments look even better. Graphics and sound are wonderful too. They really should’ve added a lot more into it though.

  2. I already have the DSi version, and though I have beaten it 100% once already, I know there are games that are so good, you don’t care how many times you play it or how many systems you play it on, it will still be a great game (After all, I bought Kirby’s Adventure 3DS after playing it on NES, GBA, and WiiVC). However, reading your review makes me want to buy the 3DS version AND the WiiWare version.

    1. Thanks! I definitely agree, Cave Story is an excellent game, one that is worth playing multiple times. I think that for the price, the WiiWare version is probably the best–it offers the most content, includes original and cleaned up graphics, and is only $12. The 3DS version does have really spiffy new graphics though, and the added secrets are pretty neat if you are a NIS fan.

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