Serving as the definitive version of the game, Cave Story+ (plus) finally lands on the Nintendo Switch nearly 13 years after the release of the original version. This collaborative effort between developers Daisuke Amaya of Studio Pixel and Nicalis, the + version of the game features an alternate script, a remastered soundtrack, and many more treats and surprises that keep this game as exciting as it was upon first release.
In Cave Story+, you take control of a robot named Quote who has woken up in a mysterious cave with no recollection of who or where he is. While navigating the intricate cave system of a floating island you make friends with the local Mimigma population, and also learn of a mysterious Doctor who intends to harness the primal powers of these island inhabitants to take over the surface world. It is your duty to stop this Doctor before it’s too late!
With this being my first foray into the long-running world of Cave Story (the game has been re-released upon multiple platforms since it was initially released in 2004), I honestly had no idea what to expect from the game. I thought it looked really cool and unique, and I have a soft spot for newly developed games that are designed to match the graphic style of the classic 8 and 16-bit games of yesteryear (looking at you Shovel Knight).
While being quirky, immensely fun, and incredibly detailed for the graphic style, Cave Story+ also offers some pretty challenging gameplay moments. Its control style is that of most classic platformers, incredibly tightly balanced in a way that takes some getting used to but is very rewarding once you master it. The controls are enhanced by allowing for a seamless toggling between weapons with the use of the triggers on your controller of choice. On the Nintendo Switch the game plays pretty flawlessly every way you play it, but I found that the more I played this game, the more I enjoyed using the Nintendo Switch’s handheld mode, which in my opinion is the best way to play this game. In addition to playing almost exclusively in handheld mode, I found myself resorting to a more traditional D-pad style of control with my left joy-con, instead using the joystick. This was simply something that I preferred in comparison to other control methods, and something that I feel allowed me to master the controls quicker.
Cave Story+ is able to differentiate itself from traditional platformers by sprinkling in some unique gameplay elements that add to the challenges of the game itself. One of these unique features is the ability to level up your arsenal of weapons. Each weapon is able to be upgraded to level three and gradually gains destructive power and range as the levels increase. But as easy as it is to level up your equipment by collecting the yellow triangles dropped by your enemies, when you take life damage your equipment loses power as well. This gives you extra incentive to remain squeaky clean and dodge enemies and projectiles as much as possible, something that is pretty tough to do given the sheer volume of enemies in some areas, and also the projectile capabilities of some bosses.
If the campaign ever gets to be boring, or you get stuck in a spot or frustrated by the difficulty of a section, you can also explore the different “Challenges” for some unique time-trial based tasks that require the player to quickly navigate areas using specific weapons from the campaign. These require some exploration to unlock, and even require you to beat the game with a specific ending (of which there are multiple), but they are sure worth the time you put in to get them!
In addition to the graphical updates from the original version, one thing the + version of the game includes is a customizable soundtrack playback option that gives you access to four different versions of the game’s soundtrack. I am a big fan of how well the soundtrack for this game was done and how much it adds to the game as a whole. It reminds me a lot of the soundtracks for Undertale or Earthbound and is something that you can tell had a lot of time and effort put into it.
For being a game that first came out nearly 13 years ago, it has certainly stood up to the test of time. The unique story, colorful homage to the classic 8 and 16-bit eras, and tightly crafted controls allow for a gaming experience that is both engaging and fun while also being challenging at times. Cave Story+ is a game that I enjoyed immensely and is one that every Switch owner needs to add to their library.
A native of Minnesota, Brandon has been an avid Nintendo fan for as long as he can remember and enjoys being able to escape into the vast worlds offered in their games. Some of his favorite games include: Pokemon Blue & Silver, Earthbound, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Risk of Rain 2, and of course LoZ: Breath of the Wild.
Outside of gaming Brandon enjoys riding motorcycle, listening to music or podcasts, cooking, watching movies, and is a big sports fan. He is always carrying his Switch with him wherever he goes, so feel free to add him if you’d like to lose at MK8D.