Way back in the ye olde days of 2004, a charming little game came out that enchanted players everywhere.  With it’s simple design and engrossing play, Cave Story was a masterpiece in its own right.  After the initial game came out the indie game company Nicalis helped to being the game to other platforms (it originally was only PC).  Now, they’ve been able to bring this little gem that’s been described as being “so massive that it rivals modern GBA Castlevania and Metroid games in terms of scope and play time” (1UP.com) to the 3DS.

More than a simple port, the good people at Nicalis have given Cave Story a complete overhaul on all of the visuals, making it look crisper, sharper, and brighter.  Even if you don’t use the 3D mode, you’ll notice just how much “better” everything looks in this iteration of the game.  In terms of the 3D support though, I’ve played games that are just “blah” with the 3D element added in – not so here.  Even though I played this game to death in years past, I was absolutely amazed by how gorgeous it looked in 3D this time around.  Everything just popped the way it should have.  This is easily one of the best uses of the 3DS’s 3D that I’ve played with.

The gameplay thankfully hasn’t changed from the original formula that worked so well.  You’re still going to be platforming from area to area (and there is a bit of an increased difficulty when you throw in the 3D to that platforming), and shooting various enemies.  along the way you’ll be gaining skills and better weapons to make yourself stronger and able to take on the various bosses in the game.  All of the exploring and upgrading is one of the things that keeps gamers engrossed here, and makes many of us fondly compare this to games like 1UP did.  If you’ve played the GBA Castlevania or Metroid games, then you’ll easily be able to see where those references come from.

One thing that has changed from the original, is that there are now three modes that you can play.  You have your standard story mode, that takes you through the game as it was originally intended – with the addition of the updated visual elements I mentioned earlier.  I definitely recommend that everyone play through this mode first, as it will explain everything about the game to you.  Once you beat a certain part of the game, Time Attack mode opens up, and it allows you to go and work on some speed runs which is a lot of fun (although it can drive you crazy when you know you could do a part better).  Lastly, there’s the strange “Classic” mode.  This mode uses the updated 3D backgrounds, but then uses the original 2D sprites for a totally surreal experience.  For some reason there’s no New Game+ mode, which is such a staple in games like this, and it’s a noticeable absence once you beat it.

Along with the updated graphics, the soundtrack has also been significantly updated.  The brains behind Super Meat Boy’s amazing sounds (Mr. Danny Baranowsky) has given every single track a nice remix.  Yes, purists will moan and groan that the original was perfect (and it really was), but the new soundtrack is actually really good.  There are times that the new sounds really get you pumped up for the over the top action.  I’ve even been humming some of the songs to myself (much to the chagrin of my family) during my daily routine because they’re so catchy.

Editor’s Rating:

Rating: ★★★★½


The Bottom Line: Cave Story has been a gem to play ever since it was initially released, and the upgraded graphics and visuals only heighten that feeling.  Like all 3DS titles though, there are times that you’ll be irritated at the 3D, but that doesn’t detract anything from the wonder of the game.


  • Everything good about the original game is still the same in this version
  • The updated graphics look amazing on the 3DS screen
  • The remixed score works extremely well, and helps to set the pacing of the action


  • No New Game+ mode means you start over from scratch every time you finish
  • Like all 3DS titles, you have to hold it just right to enjoy the 3D fully
  • No option to switch back to the original, unmodified soundtrack

Cave Story 3D releases on November 8th, and can be pre-ordered from Amazon for $39.99