Originally released for free on the Internet in 2004, Cave Story was the work of just one man: Japanese student Daisuke Amaya (AKA Pixel). Following the game's release, Cave Story fast gained a following, becoming one of the most successful and widely-acclaimed indie games.
The game was so successful that Nicalis worked with Pixel to bring Cave Story to WiiWare last year. Now, for 2011, the company has created a 3DS version of the game, popping the antiquated but stylish pixel-art graphics into 3D and working with Japanese publisher Nippon Ichi to add a slew of extras for fans (including a cameo from the publisher's much-loved mascot Prinny).
In Cave Story 3D you assume the role of a silent robot protagonist who is (until you uncover some secrets in the game) nameless. Your character awakens at the start of the game in the belly of a dark cave with no knowledge of who he is or what he is doing there.
A side-scrolling game at heart, similar in design to the 2D Metroid titles, you begin exploring a giant cave network, jumping from platform to platform, meeting characters and becoming a key player in their story as it unravels.
That story centres on a community of sentient rabbits known as Mimigas. The creatures live underground in Mimiga Village where they cultivate flowers under the leadership of the village elder, King. However, the Mimigas' peaceful existence is being threatened by a nefarious character known as The Doctor, who is luring the Mimigas from their home to feed them red flowers that turn them insane and violent.
While the story twists and turns with pleasing regularity, in general your aim is to find and destroy the red flowers before the Doctor can use them on the Mimigas.
The controls are simple, with a single jump and a shoot button, yet movement is tight and effective, and the labyrinthine environments filled with nooks and crannies to explore. Over the course of the adventure you collect four weapons: the Polar Star - your first gun, a rapid-fire laser - the Fireball, the Bubbleline and the Machine Gun.
As well as offensive weaponry, there are various objects to find and collect in order to unlock new parts of the cave system, and new chapters in the story, and discovering these becomes a compelling pursuit, especially as the game has a huge play area.
A New Dimension
Sadly this 3DS update lacks a little inspiration. The graphical overhaul is dark and, while there are moments of colour, the dingy environments often make it difficult to discern interactive objects therein. The 3D effects themselves are robust, but the camera is zoomed out a long way, and, because of the cave setting, there isn't as great detail of depth to the environments themselves.
Yet while the visuals of Cave Story 3D are a disappointment, the strong gameplay remains wholly intact, offering the same deep action adventure that has been wowing players since the game's freeware release in 2004.
Cave Story 3D is one of the best 3DS games.