Apparently, I’ve been living under a rock.
That is to say, until I saw Cave Story 3D on the shelves, I essentially knew nothing about the beloved throwback to 80s action platform goodness. I didn’t know what it was about. I didn’t know its Genesis story as a one-man labor of love programmed independently over the span of five years in the early 2000s. I didn’t know it is considered one of the greatest indie games of all time.
I’ve spent the better part of a week paying for that lack of knowledge. My thumbs and attention span are paying penance as a result.
Less about spelunking than it is about old-school action, Cave Story 3DS is, you guessed it, a 3D update exclusively rebooted for Nintendo’s little handheld that could. And it’s done in the classic spirit of, um, Metroidvania-ing, a term I recently learned that encapsulates a genre in which, like Metroid and Castlevania, includes elements of action platforming, role-playing and non-linear exploration. It’s executed perfectly.
To give it a new layer for the Nintendo handheld crowd, its creator, Daisuke “Pixel” Amaya worked alongside publisher Nicalis to completely rebuild the game with modern graphics and the added depth of 3D. Does it work? For me, the uninitiated, yes. For a Cave Story purist, who played the game for its story, its tight, simple control scheme and the original 1980s-inspired graphics, the new look might be cause for alarm. For those types, Nintendo is selling a closer-to-the-original version called Cave Story+ as a downloadable eShop game.
But at $40, is Cave Story 3D worth the price of admission? The value of a 3D update on a five-year-old game depends entirely on the gamer’s preferences. Personally, I might not have ever played the game if not for the new edition’s release. There was nothing wrong with the original. But a young gamer, or one who seeks games that look and feel as if they were made for the system they are using that Nicalis was trying to attract. That, and the super fans whose love for the original Cave Story knows no price.