Review by EggBeatr8
Title: Cave Story 3D
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Bottom Line: Cave Story 3D retains all the goods that the original freeware version perfected- if you can overlook the revamped gritty art style.
This isn't flying- this is falling...with STYLE!
I've never been the type to judge an appearance of a video game, but the idea was brought up in my mind literally seconds into playing Cave Story 3D. Maybe I'm a traditionalist and fancy the phrase "If it isn't broken, don't fix it" over anything, but to me, Cave Story 3D's darkened gloomy atmosphere amid it's bouncy, chibi enemies doesn't sit well with me. The gritty art style approach and slightly slanted overview perspective (used for a better 3-D affect I imagine) will sometimes obscure and most definitely throw off players who will accidentally run into enemies that blend in with the background of the same shade, or fall into spikes that didn't appear until you got close enough. Don't get me wrong: if the grittiness is the only thing considered bad with Cave Story 3D, I am in no way implying it's an unplayable or broken game. Just don't expect the 8-bit charm of it's freeware cousin to be present through the adventure.
Cave Story 3D lets you play the game in two different modes: Story or Classic. There's little differences between the two modes, but I found Story mode to be a little more easier than Classic (or maybe my experience with the freeware version made it seem so?). I recommend newbies to play the game in Story Mode on the Normal difficulty setting (Subjective opinion, of course), but even if you're familiar with Cave Story, I suggest avoiding the Hard difficulty setting which sets your HP at a default 3 through the whole game, and removes all health and missile upgrade tanks, eliminating the need to even explore the world.
Regardless of how Cave Story looks like, the gameplay is fun and challenging; and that's all what really matters. Increasing weapon strength requires defeating enemies to require XP points; get hit by an enemy and your weapon's power goes down. It's a brilliant design for an action platformer, and makes the game extra challenging by preventing gun ho players from using just one weapon over and over. Cave Story has a perfect blend of action and platforming with RPG elements thrown in to make it a must play for any gamer.
Cave Story is no cheater when it comes to having "story" in it's title either. Cave Story's plot is just as engaging as it's gameplay; having just enough characters you actually care about while adding a little mystery to the main protagonist's origins. Repeated play-throughs indirectly hint at alternative endings, unlocking bonus levels to explore, so it doesn't feel like you're replaying the whole game over just to answer a question differently after the credits, or something. With every new choice you make comes a more challenging boss battle or secret item to pick up. Cave Story lives up to it's name, and the accompanied music has to be heard to believe. The remixes still have an 8-bit flair to them, which can sound out of place to the game's more realistic 3-D look, but they're still a joy to hear, so I can't really complain.
While I still enjoyed Cave Story 3D, It's hard to recommending it to returning fans. The revamped art style is hard to take in, especially with the awkward looking re-designs a few of the characters experienced (Balrog looks especially bad). I just don't feel this game is worth the $40 asking price, but if you're still unsure, the original 8-bit version is on the 3DS eShop for only $10, so consider that. It's clearly a subjective decision, but both iterations in their own art styles are still fantastic games. It's probably best if you try out both for yourself. Whatever version you pick, expect one of the best platformers you'll ever play.
+Excellent gameplay hook and epic boss battles.
+Story draws you in until the very end.
+Music, whether original or remixed, is sweet ear candy.
-Gritty and dark atmosphere destroys most of the 8-bit charm from the original game.
-Hard Mode literally kills a fun experience.