Cave Story 3D Nintendo 3DS Review

Nearly a ten year piece of freeware has come to the Nintendo 3DS and is one of the best games you can get for the handheld console and its gaming roots run deep.  As a kid growing up in Los Angeles in the eighties, my middle school had a computer lab filled with Apple II computers.  Back then, computers weren’t really good for much, so we did a lot of gaming.  Cave Story creator, Daisuke Amaya or Pixel, claims Metroid and Castlevania chief among his influences but, even before those, there were many great adventure/platform games.  Before Zelda, there was Below the Root and before Castlevania there was Lode Runner, Goonies and Tron.

Cave Story begins when Quote wakes up inside an eerie cave with no memory of who he is or where he came from. As he explores the island, and discovers the Mimigas, little rabbit-like creatures and becomes involved with them.  In addition to the Mimigas, there is one who has gained great power and regardless of the consequences, seeks to create an army to conquer the surface world.  From the start, each question that is answered leads to more.

Speaking of starting, Quote wakes up with nothing and there is really only one way to go.  If you haven’t played any of the other versions of the game it might take you a minute to get acquainted with the movement and how to get where you want.  Thankfully the 3D does help provide depth and perspective to the areas and there is a save point right there, probably worth using.  Being an old school game means requiring players to do and time things right.  Many newer games are much more forgiving.

Part of what might be somewhat frustrating for some gamers is how far apart save points are and that the game requires you to consciously decide to do so.  It may even take you awhile to get to your first weapon and save your game but if you give it a chance until at least there, the story and sense of accomplishment will take you from there.  Besides the 3D, the game is pretty low tech and relies on solid storytelling and game mechanics to make it a lot of fun.

The art is simple but immersive and more than adequate for the Nintendo 3DS.  The visible area has been zoomed into its gameplay limit.  Unfortunately, this exposes some of the flaws of the 3DS system itself.  The screen is too small.  It’s significantly smaller than the current crop of smartphones and maybe what relegates Nintendo’s handheld to children exclusively.  Even the children in this writer’s home would often rather play Angry Birds on a tablet than Mario or the Lego games on their DS system.

As if often the case with Nintendo’s systems the quality software comes at a slow trickle, there are even few original first party games for the 3DS.  At this point, Cave Story 3D should be in every 3DS owner’s library.  Yes, other versions of Cave Story are cheaper and even free but, Cave Story 3D does a great job of utilizing the hardware and there is little else for the platform nearly as compelling or fun.  If you have a 3DS and haven’t given it a try, go get it, right now.

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