There's a good chance Cave Story is the best platformer you've never played - a sprawling, retro-inspired, side-scrolling adventure presented in a beautiful, pixel-art style. It's taken an absolute age to find its way to WiiWare, given that the US version arrived in March.
Cave Story's plot revolves around the Mimiga tribe, who are slowly being turned mad by a spreading glut of strange red flowers. Conspiracy abounds as the characters you encounter face off with one another, betraying and redeeming and charming using only their dialogue and the handfuls of pixels and frames at their disposal. It's a teeny sprite-based drama you'll want to see through to the end.
Defeating enemies drops experience points, which level up and improve your weapons. Health and missile containers can be collected while trinkets and discoverable items litter the game world. A mix of hub areas and more traditional, enemy-infested platform levels keep the pace varied, with drips of plot and increased abilities your reward for progressing.
Basic controls that feel at home on the Classic Controller or Wii Remote cement the feel of a superbly polished and adapted game. Throw in catchy tunes easily on par with anything Nintendo has created and you're looking at a platform adventure that stands among the greats.
This WiiWare version includes a few new game modes and a new playable character. It also subtly enhances the visuals and remixes the original soundtrack. Cost is the only kicker: at 1000 points it's more expensive than the PC version, which is... well, free. But Cave Story always felt worth shelling out for anyway.
This is an edited version of a review that will appear in the January issue of Official Nintendo Magazine. For more in-depth analysis and screenshots, look out for the mag when it goes on sale on 23 December.