Cave Story 3D is a side-scrolling adventure with verve and charm. It is also a remake of a PC game that has been available since 2004, when Cave Story's lone hobbyist developer, Daisuke "Pixel" Amaya, first gave it away on the Internet. The original was and is a sparkling indie gem, and its strength is both blessing and burden for this 3DS version; a tweaked, prettified adaptation of a great game is still a great game, but what is there to recommend it over the freeware original?
6346840NoneCave Story 3D gameplay in Story Mode and Classic Mode.
The action, akin to that of 2D Metroid games, is still zesty, retro fun. You play an amnesiac hero who wakes in a cave world inhabited by the Mimiga: bunny-like folk who live in fear of the doctor, who has been kidnapping them for use in some evil scheme. To save the Mimiga, discover your identity, and escape the cave world, you must navigate cavernous levels, hopping between platforms and blasting a goodly variety of enemy creatures.
The layouts of the caves, linked by teleporters and hub levels, are mostly unchanged from the smart, varied designs of the 2D PC game. There's more diversity than you might expect of a subterranean cave network, encompassing grasslands, desert ruins, and science facilities, each populated with diverse enemy types (hopping blobs, ghostly gravestones, cockroach men) and dotted with precious safe rooms.
Your arsenal is as excellent as ever, coupled with the likewise excellent three-tier weapon leveling system. The fireball starts out as a puny thing, but by level three shoots bouncy orbs of blue flame. At level three, the kickback from the basic machine gun lets you hover by firing downwards--a gratifying perk for negotiating lofty platforms and deadly pitfalls. You improve weapons by collecting the energy crystals that shower from defeated baddies, and upgrades come quickly, but they are lost even faster than that; when you are hit, you shed both health and weapon level points. The upshot is a nifty, dynamic set of weapons whose power surges when you're playing well and drains when you get reckless.
Weapon upgrades can be won (and lost) in moments.
Cave Story stops pulling punches with boss battles early, escalating from warm-up confrontations with the endearingly inept Balrog, one of the doctor's minions, to hectic scraps with bigger and badder monsters. These stern but worthy challenges demand lightning-quick dodges and, for the toughest encounters, humbling quantities of retries.