I first played Cave Story as a WiiWare title on the Wii in 2010. It was one of the first indie and downloadable titles I ever played. I never had a chance to finish it on the Nintendo Wii, but now that Cave Story+ is coming to Nintendo Switch, I’m excited to play through it to the end.
How It All Started
Cave Story was developed by Daisuke Amaya over a period of five years. He began developing Cave Story in his free time as a pet project when he was in college and even when he was hired as a developer. Amaya eventually finished the game and self-published it for free in 2004. Cave Story is largely inspired by games like Metroid and Castlevania; games that Amaya loved when he was growing up. Ever since it’s initial freemium release, Cave Story has been released on several platforms such as PC, Nintendo 3DS, and now ported to Nintendo Switch.
Cave Story+ boasts several new features that were not available in regular versions of the game. Cave Story+ includes the remastered graphics and soundtracks of the WiiWare version; extra game modes such as Curly Story, Boss Attack, and Wind Fortress; and three difficulty settings, among other features. Nicalis has discussed Switch exclusive features that will be released in future updates such as local multiplayer and previously unreleased stages.
Cave Story+ takes place on a floating island inhabited by rabbit-like creatures called Mimiga. You play as a soldier who has no recollection of who they are or how they made it to this island. As you exit the starting point, you become involved in a conflict involving the Mimiga and an evil scientist simply known as the ‘Doctor’. The Doctor threatens the lives of these creatures because he is searching for a Mimiga named Sue. The Doctor sends his henchmen to find and kidnap Sue, but instead, they kidnap another Mimiga named Toroko. You’re tasked with finding Sue, saving Toroko from the Doctor, and discovering who you are and why you are there.
I have been playing Cave Story+ for the last few days and it looks and sounds even better than I remember. The beautiful pixel art and character designs are wonderfully realized on the Switch’s screen; it looks even more gorgeous on a 1080p TV or monitor. The game performs well in both handheld and docked mode. The music is just as memorable as ever, with wonderfully produced chip tunes and sounds (I prefer the remastered soundtrack over the “organya” versions). I’m glad Cave Story+ includes a “jukebox” menu where you can go listen to specific tracks when you unlock them throughout your gameplay.
I’m a huge fan of the original NES Mega Man games. I have bought the first 6 Mega Man games on 5 different systems and played through them at least once a year. In other words, I love jumping and shooting. Cave Story+, however, is more than just a 2D side-scrolling shooter. Like I mentioned earlier, Amaya was a fan of games like Metroid and Castlevania; two games that pioneered nonlinear side-scrolling. Cave Story+ takes the best elements of those games and (arguably) does a lot more with them. It’s a lot more impressive when you realize this game was made by one person and has the size, scope, and length of a full-fledged Metroidvania-like game. Cave Story+ features a leveling up system for the various weapons you use in the game. Enemies that you defeat drop glowing, or orange triangles that serve as EXP. When you collect a certain amount of them, the weapons you use level up, making them stronger and providing new gameplay elements. The best part about Cave Story+ is its gameplay, and it’s been fun to play it once again.
I do have a concern to note. In Cave Story+, there are tricky jumps to make, enemies that must be defeated with precise shots, and many times the game requires you to do a mix of both. In my experience, the D-pad on the left joy-con is unsatisfactory and hinders the gameplay a bit. I personally do not enjoy playing side-scrollers with an analog stick either, so my experience with Cave Story+ as a portable game has not been all that great. This is a matter of personal preference and is not a problem with the game itself.
Despite not playing Cave Story for nearly 6 years, it has always maintained a special place in my heart as one of the greatest Metroidvania-like games I’ve ever played. Cave Story+ releases on Nintendo Switch on June 20, 2017 as a digital title and a special edition physical release. Stay tuned for our review of the game around the same time.