Despite its status as a modern indie darling and years of rereleases and enhancements, I hadn’t played Cave Story until I picked up Cave Story + for the Switch. Boy was I missing out! First released for the PC in 2004, it was culmination of years of Daisuke “Pixel” Amaya’s spare time. That fact alone made me admire it as an inspirational game but what’s as impressive is how well polished and entertaining it is. Multiple storylines and background details were presented in frequent cutscenes that kept me wanting to play a little bit longer. And not just for new story revelations, it was a genuinely fun run ‘n’ gun platformer. It’s the video game equivalent of a page-turner if there ever was one.
An intriguing sense of mystery surrounded the narrative, characters, and setting from the get go; with no buildup, my understanding began at square one. As the story unfolded from multiple characters’ perspectives, my comprehension steadily improved and I earnestly desired to figure out what exactly was going on. Portrayed via text-driven cutscenes, the writing was entertaining and frequently humorous. Ultimately, the amnesiac robotic character I controlled was fated to save a rabbit-like race of creatures from a maniacal Dr. Wily fill-in. Cutscenes occurred frequently and it seemed like I was always a few minutes away from a story-related revelation or encountering something fun gameplay-wise.
A run ‘n gun platformer with superb controls, this was a highly polished game in every respect. The character I controlled darted around with a nimbleness that kept the pace quick. I generally prefer games with swift responsive controls like this, especially when platforming is involved. There were some tricky sequences but everything was doable. The same can be said for the boss fights, taking a handful of attempts at most (playing on the normal difficulty). As the game progressed, my character’s arsenal of firearms expanded with decent variety. Defeated enemies usually dropped Weapon Crystals, which when enough were collected, leveled up the currently equipped weapon resulting in more power and greater range. The levels weren’t static so when I received enough damage, the weapon level decreased.
I cruised through Cave Story +, finding it difficult to put down once it began. The method of storytelling kept me engaged, what with background plot and multiple threads being doled out piecemeal. And regarding gameplay, it was a face-paced joyride. Since learning about additional endings, including a “true” ending that’s much more challenging to get, but reportedly worthwhile, I’m going to jump back in. Which, is something I rarely do (it doesn’t hurt that it took about six hours to complete and is great portable). If you’re a Switch owner and like me somehow dodged this game all this years, do yourself a favor and rectify that. This is a wonderful game that’ll be over before you know it.