Cave Story (WiiWare)

Game Review

Cave Story Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Corbie Dillard

Now this is more like it!

The independent gaming scene has always been a flourishing part of PC gaming over the years, but very few people were ready for the splash one indie game designer's title would make on the industry when he released it in 2004. It took Daisuke Amaya, aka Pixel, five long years to complete Cave Story, but its unique combination of shooting, platforming and exploration made it an instant hit and has had fans clamouring for a console release for many years. Now thanks to Nicalis, Pixel has updated his classic PC hit for WiiWare and attempted to recreate the magic of the original in this updated remake.

At its heart, Cave Story is very much an action-platformer. You'll spend the majority of your time running, jumping and blasting your way through the game's many areas. Having said that, there is a certain emphasis on exploration as well. When you begin the game, you don't even have a weapon at your disposal – instead you must locate the weapon and then speak to various creatures to find out what you need to do next. While the game holds your hand a bit at first, you'll soon be faced with figuring out many of the game's mysteries on your own as you explore each area. It's ultimately this combination of gaming elements that make the game such an enthralling experience.

As you explore areas you'll locate new and more powerful weapons, not to mention speciality items that many times play a key role in advancing through the levels. Some weapons feature unlimited firepower, whereas others require you to pick up extra ammunition from downed enemies. You can even switch weapons on the fly by pressing the A or B buttons on the controller. You'll soon find that being able to switch weapons quickly will play a key role in how effective you are against some of the game's tougher bosses. Add in the ability to collect Weapon Crystals to power up your weapons and you've got quite the arsenal with which to tackle the game's wide variety of enemies and bosses. There's even a wide choice of controllers to use, one being the Wii Remote turned on its side or the Classic Controller. Both work quite well, but some might prefer the larger D-Pad on the Classic Controller.

There are several different modes of play to enjoy in Cave Story. Story Mode is where you'll likely spend the majority of your time and features all of the platforming and exploration elements of the game. Of course there are a few other choices if you're looking for a change of pace or something to play after you've completed the main adventure. Boss Rush Mode allows you to tackle the game's many bosses to see how many you can beat with one life. You can also take on the Sanctuary Mode in a race to beat the level in the shortest amount of time, for those of you who like a good speed run. And if all of these modes aren't enough, you can even choose to play through the game's Story Mode as the cute and lovable Curly, although she controls basically the same way as the main character.

You can't help but love the smooth and responsive controls the game offers up and being able to toggle weapons so quickly and easily is also a big plus. The game also features a very gradual and smooth difficulty curve, although it can be a bit deceiving early on, as the game ramps up in difficulty quite well in later levels and should test even the most seasoned action-platformer fans. Toss in some RPG-style exploration elements and you've got an extremely well-rounded and fairly lengthy gaming experience that should keep you busy for some time.

Cave Story might not have the visual flash of some WiiWare titles we've seen, but don't let that fool you. The quirky visuals give the game a very distinctive look and feel and there's certainly no shortage of variety between the various areas of the game. While many of the characters and enemies are fairly small in stature, they still manage to feature a nice level of graphical detail. Even the bosses are very well drawn and show a unique artistic styling in their designs. The game even features a nice nostalgic twist for fans of the original PC release that will allow them to toggle between the updated graphics and the classic, more pixelated visuals of old. It might seem like a small touch, but it's nice to have for those who can appreciate it.

As good as other facets of the game are, the musical score in this updated release is top notch. It's quite impressive how the composers were able to update the sound quality and variety yet still retain many of the classic 8-bit qualities at the same time. The same can be said of the sound effects as they just seems to blend in perfectly with the other areas of the game's audio presentation. And just like the visuals, players also have the option of having the game's classic soundtrack played if they prefer it, although as good as the updated soundtrack is, it would seem like a bit of a waste to miss out on it.


It's almost impossible to convey the sheer amount of charm and personality found throughout Cave Story. The game's eccentric world draws you in from the moment you begin playing and the ever-increasing intensity and action only further maintain the game's enjoyable gameplay scheme. When you combine all of this with an engaging storyline and plenty of bonus gaming modes to tackle after you've completed the game's main quest, what you have is one of the most playable and addictive titles to hit WiiWare to date. Cave Story is exactly the type of game we need to see more of on WiiWare and a game that absolutely no platformer fan should miss out on.

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User Comments (114)



Porky said:

Theres so much content packed in this so Im getting with my next point card. So many good games been releasing this year.



y2josh said:

Before rants of this game being free on PC: So what, it's a fun game and if people want to spend 12 dollars on an awesome game let them. Best downloadable game I've played... recently.



Croz said:

I think this will hit EU around May, great review can't wait to play this.



Raylax said:

What #5 said.
This is straight to the top of my Wiiware purchases as soon as we get an EU release date.



Burny said:

@ 6.: If you haven't already, you could play it now on the PC right now.
Chances are, you won't get the best possible ending on the first run (as I did) and you will want to play it again when it comes to Europe's WiiWare.



rhythmheavenfan said:

Looks very fun, but a little steep on the price tag. I'll have to ponder a little before I make a decision on whether I want to actually buy it.



Omega said:

Cave Story is of course an above average title. But I would recommend it only if you:

  • don't already played the free original game
  • don't have a game controller for your PC
  • don't be able to buy a game controller because you are living in a desert
  • want to donate money to a company and/or a Pixl and "support" them

Otherwise Mega Man 10 or Castlevania Rebirth are way better choices imho.



Sean_Aaron said:

Definitely getting it when it comes out in Europe; hopefully by then I'll have cleared most of my plate and give it the time it deserves!



BlueBandanaJake said:

Im loving this game very much, its good old school addictive fun!

The review was nothing but positive marks, so just out of curiosity, what held it back from a 10?



Bass_X0 said:

I heard there are typos, issues with the music and that the game sometimes crashes.



Slapshot said:

@corbie.... great review man. I've got the freeware version and with a gaming controller the game is fantastic, enough so that I contributed to the company. The music is really rough at times, but the gameplay as u said is just fantastic. Great game, I plan on finishing it up this weekend.



MrPinguy said:

@Bass X0
Typos are in propose (the characters using a IM service in a computer.)
Or by pointed people that doesn't know that "examinate" is a word.
Maybe a . or , missing but nothing too serious.
Or maybe just rabid fanboys that some names aren't the same as the fan translation back then.

The other issues will be corrected in a patch, (and you and me don't need to care about those, they will be already corrected by our PAL release.)
Even some of the new music are missing some drum and some other instruments, pointed up by this version composer, i didn't actually noticed, music still fine, maybe some will like the old one more, but he IS the composer so he knows it.
Before the patch, the gamecrash is easily avoidable, don't open the map in a location, called "Outer Wall", you won't need it, believe me, this will avoid the game crash, when you change the location there.

That's all, and doesn't ruin the awesomeness that is the game, you can see in metacritic or something that this isn't the only "above 8" review out there.



turtlelink said:

Great review Corbie! II thought it would have been a ten with all the praise in the review but still, good job!



Philip_J_Reed said:

Ohhhhh so close.

So far my opinion of the game is hovering between a 9 and a 10. Excellent review as usual.



Shiryu said:

I hope they patch this baby up nice and good for the Euroland release. I will be all over it.



Artix said:

I'm not sure if I like this review.
For starters, he didn't mention anything negative at all. While that's fine, you'd expect a 10/10 in that case...
For seconds, Nicalis did eff up with this port, which he didn't mention at all. There's problems with the music, the new translation, and I even heard of freezing for some people.

So anyway, that's my two cents, I would've given it a 10 anyway.



MrPinguy said:

The only problem with the translation, it's the fact that rabid fans takes too much for the "familiarity" of the fan translation.
Just another case of "It's different, now it sucks."
(So bad that Tyrone is considering make Barlog saying Huzzah! again, the word that Aeon Genesis, chosed for Barlog catchword.

The other problems, yes they exist, but easily avoidable, and the composer said that Nicalis are working into it.
Now let's see if we see results.

And as a reviewer the is no way I would get this a 10 as much i LOVE cave story.
The game is a available as a freeware on a PC, and have some bugs (just glad they are going to correct them) that render it "not perfect" that is a ten.
But have enough quality content to justify a 9, so i agree with Corbie classification.



Wyrmling said:

That's just something silly that's being complained about. Legitimate complaints are ones that point out the many parts of the new translation that come off awkward and weird. Changing names slightly isn't a big deal (I could care less about Chin Fish => Egg Fish and Grasstown => Bushlands, etc.) but stuff like "I've got the nose of a clever harrier," comes off a lot worse than "I've got the nose of a bloodhound."

I still love the game though, despite all the flaws of its port, and just got through the normal and bad ending and am currently working on getting through hell to get the good ending, but it's a lot harder than I remember >.<



Wyrmling said:

@Varoennauraa : It loops kind of oddly. Any track with an intro part (the last fight music comes to mind) will have the intro replay every time the track loops around. I really don't know how they could have so many sound issues. On the updated soundtrack, the percussion tracks aren't playing, so a lot of the new stuff comes off really bland and uninteresting in comparison to the original music.



imapterodactyl said:

Really, how did the game get such high marks for music and sound in this review when it's so messed up? No percussion at all in the new music, wierd looping issues, and finally, the fact that the sound effects are cranked up to 13 (to sound right, they need to be cranked down to 1/2 volume at most). Don't get me wrong, other than the sound issues they've done a great job with this. I love Cave Story, but I really hope they manage to fix the sound issues, which are irritating. Supposedly they're considering fixing it before the UK release, but if so, Nintendo had better allow a new download for us in the US as well, because if not, then we've been outright ripped off.



ejamer said:

I probably wouldn't have noticed any of the "problems" if they weren't spelled out for me here... and it sounds like the only people complaining are people extremely familiar with the original anyway.

Whatever. When a highly anticipated games comes out there are always going to be complaints. If a patch is coming to fix some of the smaller details, great. If not, this game is still more than good enough.



Machu said:

Sounds really good!

I downloaded the PC version, having read this, I might finally install it.



ejamer said:

"Really, how did the game get such high marks for music and sound in this review when it's so messed up? No percussion at all in the new music, wierd looping issues, and finally, the fact that the sound effects are cranked up to 13 (to sound right, they need to be cranked down to 1/2 volume at most)."

So adjust the sound effect level and use the original music -- most of your complaints are immediately solved! The percussion and looping is unfortunate, but not anywhere near a deal-breaker (especially if they can be patched later).



Sinister said:

Tbh i really do not understand the hype around this game. Anyone wanna explain to me ?



argus said:

"Cave Story might not have the visual flash of some WiiWare titles we've seen, but don't let that fool you."

Really? I haven't bought Cave Story yet, but based on Youtube videos and screenshots I've seen, I've thought it was one of the best looking games on Wiiware.



Mr_Saturn said:

The only thing stopping this from being a 10 is the map problem and the music looping "problem" (in quotes because although its noticeable that loop points are missing, I really don't care) - which weren't even mentioned in the review. I'd have given it a 10. It has been a pleasure all the way through.



Varoennauraa said:

Hopefully music will be fixed then for the EU release. That would make the wait more bearable.



Wyrmling said:

@Mr.Saturn: The map's always been useless though, now it's just a little more useless XD



mnementh said:

NSMBWii, Metroid Prime, SMG, RE4, and World of Goo. But this should get a 10 too if they didn't list any cons. Btw, this version is better than the PC version for the graphics alone it's worth it.



North99 said:

Cave Story = reason I have interest in Wiiware service. Great game; awesome



Snoopy said:

great game . worth 12 buck easy. It starts out slow, but then get awesome. i love the guns leveling system.



i_am_error said:

I still can't figure out if it's in widescreen or not. I have it (my Wii is set in 16:9) and I'm not sure if it's streched or not... anyone?



Crunc said:

I really don't understand how this game could have gotten such a high score and even a mention that the sound track and sound effects are great, when even the development team admits that they are both messed up. One of the development team said to turn the sound effects to 1/3 volume to fix that, but that doesn't help with the other issues like missing drums. I'm not buying this game in the US unless they release a patched version that fixes all these issues. Maybe I wouldn't have cared if it was 500 points, but this thing is 1200 points and the original game is free. If you're going to make me pay for a game that can be had for free, they sure as better have everything just right.



aaronsullivan said:

Thanks for the comments on the new music. I was pretty disappointed in it because I still hum many of the original tunes but these renditions came out meh. I'm glad to know it could be fixed in the future. I'm just going to play it with the original music for now. (If you are curious, just play the original music on the title screen and compare it to the new music! Yikes!).

The new graphics, however, are a true upgrade. I adore pixel art, but the look that's achieved here is very appealing. Especially the portrait pictures. They make the characters even more endearing than before, which surprised me.



aaronsullivan said:

Even if it's available for free, the new stuff is cool, the graphics are great and you can avoid the music problem by playing the original music (right?). On top of that, I'd like to see Pixel make something new. Why be cheap when it comes to the "little guy" here? This is just the type of game to support if you value games that return to the roots from time to time.

Plus, I like to play while lounging in a comfortable recliner or couch.




I really can't believe people are blueberrying about having a more accurate translation....It's beyond me to understand. Have you never dealt with translations before? (ie. anime, manga...it always translates differently in it's official consumer release)

The music is different...as expected. I'm not going to get up in arms over some drums. The original is there for thosse who prefer it but, it contains far less mood music and effects.

I experienced the crash....3 xs before I figured out what triggered it. It's such a short area that you will not need your map and very little backtracking. It does need to be addressed.

This game is still such a gem I can honestly say it is in my top 10 favorite games of all time! It offers replay value since you'll likely not know where hidden items and probably won't know how to get the best ending, despite it being extremely difficult at the end. I love that it gives you options and has a great story coupled with action and xp, exploring, etc!




come on moderators..if you're going to edit my post at least edit it to someting comparable...like griping, complaining, bickering, critizing, objecting, quarreling, squabbling, etc...anything but blueberrying.



Corbs said:

The small map glitch was the main thing that kept it from a 10. I personally found the music very atmospheric and enjoyable and never once had the game freeze on me the whole way through. I thought the game was a very solid 9 and easily one of the most enjoyable WiiWare titles to date.



nice_shirt said:

If you consider yourself a gamer, you must include this amazing effort to your resume. Remarkable for so many reasons but mostly because of its solo creator. I'm happy to support this kind of indie game because the game makes me happy.



Objection said:

Blueberrying, that's hilarious.
And alternate translations don't surprise me at all. It shouldn't be a big deal.



miketh2005 said:

@DJ Triforce: They gave World of Goo a 10/10. I don't know what makes it so special. There are way more fun games on Wiiware. I guess puzzle just isn't my genre. What held this back from a 10, when the review had nothing bad to say? Bad review. If your gonna give something a 9 instead of a 10 it has to have some flaw, but you didn't mention it. I HOPE it wasn't because of the graphics! Graphics do not effect the fun value of a game!

EDIT: nvm, you said it was cause of the map glitch, but you never said that in the review... what map glitch does it have? you would think you would put that in your review... doesnt make sense.



theblackdragon said:

@ZOTZMAN: if i'm going to have to clean up after people, i'm going to have fun with it. if you don't like what was put in place of that particular word, use something else next time that won't need replacing. you seem to have a full command of appropriate synonyms, after all :3



Popyman said:

The MAP?! That's it!? It was never a big part of the game to begin with and if you use the old graphics the glitch isn't even there!



vakama94 said:

well worth my 1200 points, now i hope they bring la-mulana as short as posible



Iggy said:

Nice review i think i might get this game now
thankfully i have 200 points allready in my account
all i need to do is put 10 bucks in sweeeet.



odd69 said:

I love this game. It's in my top ten favorite games of all time. Now that it's made it to a Nintendo console, it can hopefully reach as many people as possible.No one should miss out on this.



EdEN said:

Between this and the Blaster Master remake my need for adventure games on Wii should be fulfilled for a couple of weeks.



naut said:

We all know this game is epic, but is it worth buying when you can play the PC version free?



Corbs said:

Yes it is. The controller support alone is worth the price.



Linkuini said:

Gee Corbie, are you hogging the good ones or what?

Anyway, I couldn't care less about the glitched maps in this game; you have to stop the action to bring them up, they don't tell you where you actually are, and it hurts my eyes to look at them in the first place. They might as well be mislabeled, upside-down, and stained with ketchup for all I care, because I can hardly read 'em anyway.

Oh, and for the record, I have no problem with Balrog's Kool-Aid man impression. None at all.



Scottie said:

Please come to Europe next week, i have never played this game but cannot wait to play it! Hopefully the patch can be sorted quickly for the US as well.



Nintendude92 said:

They really packed alot of content into it to justify not just snagging the PC version, its a very good game.



Angaran said:

which is better Cave Story or World of Goo?
I' debating on which one i should get



Corbs said:

Two very different gameplay experiences. Do you prefer more of a puzzler or a platformer? Both are top shelf.



theberrage said:

This is a great game. I think 1200 points is a little steep. But you probably wont complain about it after you buy it and play it



Corbs said:

Yeah I saw that theberrage. I was rather shocked to be honest with you. Had absolutely no idea I was mentioned in there.



Corbs said:

I just noticed that Cave Story had passed Mega Man 10 on the NA Top 20 and is now the #1 WiiWare download in North America.



Marioman64 said:

did someone say they're gonna patch it? is it gonna make the map not need a magnifying glass to see and make the music not lag in-between scene changes?
and will balrog say huzzah?



Goomba said:

I've been looking forward to this release. I love games like this that have small characters.



naut said:

The problem I'm having here is the fact that this version brings virtually nothing new to the shelf gameplay-wise. I want to support Pixel, but I'm just not sure. If only buying games worked like the PSN...



sonic_brawler95 said:

I've played a good deal of it today, and I must say, this is possibly the best WiiWare game I've ever downloaded (finally, something I like more than World of Goo!). I simply adore 2D platformers, and this game is one of the best I have played. The music is catchy, the platforming is solid, and the graphics have that retro feel I love so much. 9/10 are my first impreesions. This game is an instent download.



MrPinguy said:

Definitely not. (not even the small sprite.)
Maybe a search on Google for "Curly Brace" may heal your insanity.



T1m1 said:

I agree with this review completely. it was definitely worth the 1200 points pretty much better than most of the platfromers on Wiiware, Then again i do mostly prefer cave story's run and gun style over other but thats not to say others were bad at all, I though Blaster Master Overdrive was a Great game that tied me over till it came out, But cave story was well worth the wait.




I absolutely love this game(Cave Story - Im on my 2nd play-through and made it to Hell-not beaten Ballos yet) but, nobody seemed to mention how unfortunate it was for this to follow RotGladiator, a week after release. When usually you dont get this kind of quality week to week. Im sure they lost sales and interest because of it. I say this largely because they were a very people and Q &A oriented developer.



EdEN said:

I just bought another copy for my brother since it was his birthday. He's having a lot of fun with the game and says it's definitely worth it's asking price.



BobberyFan98 said:

So getting this after reading the Review! Thank you for persuading me to buy it Corbie!




lockelocke said:

I just beat the game and I don't think I clocked 10 hours of play. Maybe 5 or 6?? But the game has multiple endings and items/weapons that you'll probably miss on your first playthrough. Definitely worth the 12 bucks.

IMO the best WiiWare title available hands down. 10/10.



berserkering said:

Just finished beating the game. Played about 20 minutes to an hour each day for about two weeks. This game is really alot of fun! I'm glad I got it.



cowboy said:

WTF?!! I cant wait anymore ,when is it coming to europe ? Why is it taking so long ? I thought it should be out in may and now its 10-15 days til August.



rwq said:

I come from the future, Cave Story is still not released in EU.



Marioman64 said:

post patch: well balrog doesn't say huzzah, but everything i had problems with has been fixed! no more music skipping in cut scenes, no more nacho power up noises of death, no more crashing on the map, and percussion in the music! yay!
however, someone tell me when the wii will put a tv resize in the options menu, because my tv is convinced it is a square and cuts off the left and right sides of my screen slightly x.x



Marioman64 said:


the record for beating the game through the third ending is 2 hours, 17 minutes, and 4 seconds http://www.cavestory.org/info_8.php

as far as my computer's history can tell me, i got the game on my pc about 12/18/08 and i last touched that particular save file 01/19/09. assuming christmas took up most of my time, i'd say i spent a good couple weeks on my first playthrough

my personal speed run record knowing exactly what i was doing is like 8 hours i think... maybe 6 i forget

multiply that by like 10 different combinations of ways to play times 3 endings and there's your answer



Falk_Sturmfels said:

I don´t know the PC-Version. In my opinion the new sound is better. I tried to play with the old one, but switched back to the new version. And playing this as a platformer with the remote is fun.

Dumb thing is, I started this game along with a couple others. Now I have to realize, that I don´t get the story.

Am I right?: The player wakes up somewhere as a cat-like creature. Additional there is a boy (kazuma) trapped in a room with a computer. Kazuma looks like a human from behind. He´s searching with the computer for his sister. She´s one of the cat-creatures, but the people in the town don´t like her because she´s a stranger (similar to Cameron´s "Avatar"). The player now steps into this story and tries to help Suzy and Kazuma and during that he finds out who he is and why he is in here.

Was that right? I don´t get the stuff with the dragon eggs. That came out of nowhere.



256Bit said:

it's beautiful and fun. awesome gameplay! reminds me alot of Wonderboy in Monsterworld. Thank you Nintendo for porting this gem.



hiptanaka said:


Late response, but here it is. The story is intentionally told in a sort of obfuscated way, which is one of the game's strongest points, in my opinion. Everything will come to you in time, and you're right about what you've gathered so far.

The above mentioned storytelling, the solid and challenging gameplay, and the sense of exploration (including a handful really cool secrets) is what makes this a great game.



rwq said:

I just bought this and I'm having a lot of fun. I beat the pc version back when it came, but this time im playing it from my couch using my favorite controller, wii points well spent!

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