A young man wakes up in a cave. He soon begins to examine the area and is quickly under attack. After arming himself, he finds his way to a small village called the Mimiga Village. From here, he witnesses a kidnapping of a girl he just met and soon sets out to save her with only a laser pistol. Who exactly is he? What is he? And who is the sinister Doctor he keeps hearing about? -summary
I'm a complete newcomer to the world of Cave Story. I never even heard of it until late last year after I read a review on Cave Story 3D in Nintendo Power magazine. From what I learned, Cave Story was a very popular Freeware platformer from an indie developer for the PC that gained a solid cult following. Gamers praised it for a variety of reasons, and Nintendo Power gave this version pretty high accolades. Developed by NIS America for the Nintendo 3DS, Cave Story 3D is said to be the same thing with only updated visuals and even music score.
At the time, I remember being pretty hungry for another 3DS game and I believe it was the 2D plat former portion that grabbed my attention. Now after finally completing the game, I have to say that I was very impressed and happy to come across it. I found Cave Story 3D to be one of the more gripping games I recently came into; the story is pretty good, game play is very solid with a moderate difficulty that can be unforgiving at times, and the controls are pretty tight. Honestly, I think it's much better than Super Mario 3D Land.
Cave Story 3D is a 2D action plat former that follows the lead character, who's name is later revealed to be Quote. He must venture through various sections of what he learns to be a floating island. He will battle against many different breeds of monsters, traverse through very deadly obstacles, and encounter some pretty tough boss encounters as he makes his way to the sinister Doctor.
Cave Story 3D is said to be paying homage to many walks of video gaming life. The plat forming aspect is well intact with plenty of chances to die instant deaths, by falling in spiked pits or even deep into the abyss to never return. It also utilizes an RPG element to level up the various weapons you will come across. The player begins with a little pea-shooter for a firearm that begins on Level 1, and it can be leveled up to 3 by picking up crystals after you kill enemies. Once the gun is leveled up, then it fires a powerful twin blaster. All of the weapons ranging from a throwing sword to a rocket launcher can be upgraded into some major fire power. One of the problems with games like these has always been the handicap of being able to enjoy these weapon upgrades only close to the end of the game. This is not the case here, as you can level up these weapons with the fallen crystals almost right after you acquire them. So you can have your rocket launcher firing multiple projectiles only minutes after you find it. And it's pretty fun blowing up enemies without mercy. The rocket launcher, unlike the other weapons has limited ammo, but this isn't a problem since you can also pick up more rockets as you destroy, so blast away until no one is left.
The player must also acquire health pick ups to increase the count. Needless to say these are very important, because you have enemies and obstacles that can kill you very quick. Along the way, Quote will meet up with several folks, and some of them will ask him for favors, such as freeing a man trapped inside of a house by collecting the necessary pieces to put together a bomb, or even returning a woman's husband home. Some of these things aren't necessary to move on while many are, but they're all important though, because they will either end with you receiving more health increases or a new weapon. The game doesn't exactly have puzzles, but there are ways to become stuck in certain areas. One of the things I love is that the game does not spoonfeed or hold your hand. Either there are no clues at all, or there are subtle tips in the landscapes to put you in the right direction. The game doesn't exactly toss you into the dark though, there's a map of the entire island found in the first area you end up after leaving the cave in the very beginning. It's very helpful and it pointed me in the right direction many times.
Cave Story 3D also has multiple endings, and the best endings can only be unlocked by certain decisions you make during the game. The easiest ending is one of the biggest trolls in gaming in recent memory. When I opened that one, I just knew something was wrong and I began replaying again right from there. Unlocking the best ones isn't easy at all, because they usually result in having to complete some very difficult secret stage, that can feel fiendishly hard. An example of one of the toughest stages takes place right before one of the possible endings. First, all of your weapons are automatically lowered to level one, then you must use your rocket pack that flies you in very short burst in any direction you want, to maneuver through the level that is blanketed with spike ceilings, walls, and floors, followed by lava beds, and very vicious flying and ground enemies. Some of the paths you must fly through leave no margin for error at all, and you lose ten points of life every time you hit something. To top it off, there's a tough boss waiting for you close to the end, and even after you beat him, there are now instant death obstacles keeping you from seeing the light. Your skills have to be top notch by this time, and you need some serious patience. I died here several times but made it through before frustration began to set in.
The stages aren't alone in the difficulty; some of the bosses also chime in on the frustration at times. Like this pseudo tank that shows up that can deal out damage in different ways, and it takes some patience as well as spamming the hell out of a certain weapon to destroy this thing. There are various checkpoints, and even points where you can refill your ammo and life. Some of the other weapons like your pistol, the Polar Star, contains unlimited ammo, while others like the machine gun carry unlimited ammo in a different way. When the machine guns count reaches zero, it will recharge rapidly back to 100 once you stop shooting. And when you take a hit, the level of the weapon you're carrying will decrease. This isn't exactly a big thing though, since power ups and health pick ups are in abundance.
Cave Story 3D has a lot to offer, and the story becomes deeper. As you go on, you encounter a girl named Curly Brace who is somehow linked to your past, and through her many questions are answered. You soon learn what the Doctor's plan is; Mimiga Village is populated by some type of speaking rabbit-like creatures, and the Doctor has enslaved almost the entire village. The story really isn't that complex, but I will refrain from spoilers anyway because that's just how I am. My only gripe in the game play is not being able to skip the cut scenes. You have to sit through each and every last one of them.
I feel the game performs smoothly. The basic set up is two shoot buttons, two jump buttons, the shoulder buttons swap weapons, and the menu is accessed through the touch screen. I think it would have been better to use one of those jump buttons to pull up the menu, and it would have been nice if the second shoot button would allow Quote to fire a secondary weapon. Putting aside these minor gripes, I really can't say there's a problem here.
One of the things I noticed is how well the game utilizes lighting. The stages that actually take place inside of caves are dimly lit, with some nice blue backgrounds and hilly caverns. The scenery is very nice for some stages like the Mimiga Village, where there's a good amount of woods and green. The lakes and rivers are a beautiful crystal blue, and I really like the flowing of the streams from the background to the foreground. Cave Story looks nice and the 3D enhances things well enough, nothing I can say is very groundbreaking though.
The character designs can be way too simple, and many of the creatures aren't exactly to my liking. One of the characters by the name of Balrog, looks like a walking wind up toy or Lego Block. The designs could have used some imagination. The sound effects are ok at best, but outside of the blasting sound of the rockets, nothing really caught my attention. And once again, Nintendo fails to deliver by providing the characters with voice actors. I'm really tired of reading dialogue for next generaton systems.
Now the music has moments of being pretty catchy, these are some nice synthesized scores that fits the mood of the game. The major boss battles have the best themes though, and it captures that big battle feel with a witch by the name of Misery. She gave me a little bit of hell too I will admit.
Trying to figure out how to unlock the multiple endings will take up the most time. I didn't have a problem with this, since the game hasn't bored me at any point. The game is single player and there's no on-line feature to it. I don't have a problem with this, since for the most part, I prefer games I can beat and move on to the next thing. There's also a playable version of the original Cave Story. As far as I can tell, it's the same game only with different more generic sprites. The graphics is still from the 3DS version.
After playing Cave Story 3D for a few minutes, I thought of Super Metroid. It feels very similar to that game, and in my book, that's a pretty high compliment. This was pretty much an instinct purchase I don't regret at all. For some reason I just knew this game was going to be good, and it left me feeling quite fulfilled. I'm also satisfied with the length. Without getting lost the game is probably a little more than 2 hours or so. It doesn't feel very long. I highly recommend this game to those especially who feels that the 3DS has been lacking since its release. If you been putting it off for some reason, stop and just check it out.
-Solid game play, Nice visuals, Moderate difficulty
-Cut scenes can't be skipped, minor issues
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