Cave Story has a long history on PC. Originally released as a self-published game on PC by developer Daisuke Amaya, the game managed to garner enough attention to receive a port for the Nintendo Wii, DS and 3DS. It was also remade in 3D for the Nintendo 3DS although the remake was not as well received as the original. Nicalis later released an enhanced release of the game for PC called Cave Story+. This ended up being the best version of the game because of how it managed to retain the original art style while offering the extra modes from the previous version of the game.
Cave Story+ features an alternative English translation of the game in addition to a remastered soundtrack. You also have the ability to toggle between the old PC visuals or the new enhanced art style. The game plays beautifully on the Nintendo Switch with its gorgeously drawn sprites that are a delight to see on the Switch screen in undocked mode. Even if you prefer to to play the game on the big screen, it actually holds up really well and looks nice and clean thanks to its art style.
The meat of the game is its story, well written cast of characters and the gameplay. Honestly heading into the game, I never expected it to turn out so great. It is refreshingly polished to the core and with a gameplay system that is addictive as much as it is fun to play. The core of the mechanics revolve around a metroidvania-like exploration for the game where you can retreat to areas that you already discovered as you learn new abilities or discover new weapons. The thing that makes the exploration so fun is the excellent level and monster design.
Don’t be fooled by the charming art style of Cave Story+, as it can prove to be difficult if you don’t pay attention. There are moments in the game that will require you to use your skills and the game doesn’t really make it any easier by only allowing manual saves which require you to find a room with the save point. This can feel a little dated in the beginning but it slowly starts to grow on the player. The controls are extremely polished with the jumping and shooting offering a smooth experience. It is incredibly satisfying to kill a horde of enemies with the weapons that can you find throughout your journey and it becomes a quest to upgrade them further, in order to enhance their attack power.
The gameplay attempts to bridge RPG elements like leveling up and health upgrades with side-scrolling platforming. You will be able to level up the weapons you pick by killing enemies with them, resulting in you getting experience points for that particular weapon. Health can also be similarly upgraded by collecting health upgrades that are located throughout the map, with some of them being hidden out of view for the player. It is always satisfying to discover such a secret during exploration, especially since it feels rewarding for the player.
Don’t confuse Cave Story+ as a simple metroidvania game. At its core, the game also has a pretty good story to carry the player through the game with a purpose. You will encounter numerous interesting characters as you make your way through the story. The game begins with a simple enough premise: find the kidnapped girl which appears to have been taken away by an evil Doctor whose identity remains unknown in the beginning. However this is not the end of it as you progress further, you are able to discover the motivation of the evil Doctor and lets just say, the story simply doesn’t stop there.
One of the neat touch in Cave Story+ is how the story is presented in small tasks so you know what do during each segment in the game. It is hard to get lost in the world since you have clear objectives but the game doesn’t offer any hand holding for the player and lets you roam free in the world as you desire, which is what makes it so great.
If you are a fan of metroidvania games and own a Switch, Cave Story+ comes highly recommended. If you already own the game on PC, then honestly there isn’t really much of an incentive to buy it again, although the appeal of having the game on a portable for the first time can’t be denied.
Cave Story+ Review (Switch)
Game Reviewed on: Switch
Game description: Cave Story is a platform-adventure video game released in 2004 for the PC. It was developed over five years by Daisuke "Pixel" Amaya in his free time. Cave Story features 2D platform mechanics and is reminiscent of the classic games Amaya played in his youth, such as Metroid (1986) and Castlevania.
Cave Story+ is arguably one of the best metroidvania game and despite having released years ago, it still holds up very well even today.