Nintendo consoles have, as of late, become a safe haven of sort for indies looking to publish their wares on home consoles. It makes sense, then, that the Switch would receive its own port of one of the most popular indie titles of all time, Cave Story+.
Originally released in 2004 on PC, Cave Story gained popularity and became something of a legend among indie games. Since then it has appeared on Wii, DSi and 3DS as well as other non-Nintendo consoles, from the Dreamcast and the original Xbox to the PSP and even graphing calculators.
The version Switch owners are receiving was originally released on Steam back in 2011, but it has aged very well. It contains a few remastered soundtrack options, for example; the 8-bit stylised tunes are bound to be seen as classics by some, but if they aren’t your speed Cave Story+ offers a number of remixed versions, ensuring there’s something there to fit your tastes. We also have the updated graphics originally seen in the WiiWare version of the game; visually it looks a treat in HD both on the TV or on the system's own screen.
In Cave Story+ you take on the role of Quote, an amnesiac robot who awakens on a floating island and must stop the evil doctor from using the native Mimiga for his own nefarious purposes.
Along the way you’ll encounter a number of allies, from the Mimiga people themselves, to a fellow robot named Curly Brace who will help you on your adventures. With their help you’ll have to run, jump and shoot your way through the island and put a stop to the evil doctor’s plans along the way.
The Cave Story+ controls are easy to understand, much in the same way that old school 8-bit games are. The A button controls Quote’s jumps, while the B button handles firing whichever gun you have equipped. The X button will bring up an equipment screen that allows you to change weapons or to check your map. The L and R buttons will also allow you to switch between your weapons, which we prefer, but to each their own. You can also take your pick of any of the Switch’s available control options, from single Joy-Con to Pro controller. All of them work well, though for obvious reasons we prefer to avoid the single Joy-Con configuration when possible.
What makes Cave Story so great, however, is the impeccable level design. New enemies and traps are introduced with a level of finesse that isn’t often seen in AAA titles, let alone indie releases. One element that stood out to us happened early on when a series of pitfalls were thrown our way. The first pit was easy enough to fall into, but contained nothing. The very next series of them contained spikes that would spell certain doom, though we had been trained to look for these.
The narrative is also delivered with a light touch, with the story being split up into small, easily digestible tasks. This not only makes it easier to follow what’s going on, but it’s also easier to play portably. Save points are all over the world, making the game equally easy to pick up and play.
It’s possible to beat Cave Story+ in a few short hours, but multiple endings combined with choices that can’t be repeated make for excellent replayability. Over the course of this review we actually played through the game a total of five times in order to get each of the endings as well as try out multiple weapons. Cave Story+ also features a challenge mode in which you race through sections of the game with set weapons and compete for the best time. Your times will be uploaded to the leaderboards where you can compare them against your friends as well as the community at large. A two player option is also due to be added in an update later this summer.
If you haven’t played Cave Story yet, you need to; it’s an essential title for any fan of Metroidvania style games. Its wonderful pacing, fantastic controls and charming visuals make it a must-have for fans of the genre, especially those that have yet to play it. If there was the equivalent of a required reading list for games, Cave Story+ would be on it.