[Disclosure: A review key was provided for the contents of this article]
Whilst I do love the way in which indie developers have flocked to the Switch like a swarm of locusts, eager to feast on the bountiful harvest of new and revitalised buyers, I don’t feel like my enthusiasm is unlimited. In particular, I’m not dead keen on the idea of expensive relaunches of really ancient games, complete with next to no new content. Cave Story+ falls into that category, being both expensive and basically, exactly the same as it was when it was first released in 1972. Sorry, I meant to say 2011 (or 2004 if you count the original), but even so, six years is a long time in videogames, so is Cave Story+ good enough to stand the test of time?
In a word, just. This is still a great game, but asking people to pay a premium price for it is quite a stretch in my opinion. Cave Story+ is an exceptionally tight and very challenging 8-Bit platform game. It’s a game about a robot called Quote, and his quest to free an indigenous people called the Mimiga from the oppression of an evil known throughout as The Doctor. To prevent The Doctor from achieving his dastardly plans, players will run, jump and shoot their way through increasingly complex, yet very well designed levels that faultlessly increase in complexity until the final showdown.
Controlling Quote is crisp and easy, and there are few things to remember on the face of the gamepad. You can shoot, jump and open an inventory or map screen. The real nuance of the gameplay comes not from mastering an increasing arsenal of skills, but more from learning how to weight Quote’s jumps, change direction in the air similar antics. If you commonly apply the same amount of button pressure to every jump, you simply won’t have a good time with Cave Story+, because the game demands a level of finesse. Learn how this works though, and you’ll feel rewarded because even simple tasks, done well, give a sense of advancement.
Although it is basically simplistic to play, Cave Story+ does nonetheless feel as if it has a kind of RPG root, thanks to a story that includes several endings and a number of branching story decisions, as well as some light Metroidvania type features. Before the end, you’ll make friends of the Mimiga, and you’ll even have a sidekick of sorts, and perhaps because of how bleak their plight is, you’ll want to save them. I found the game quite short, and was able to complete it in about three or four hours on average, but I did feel compelled to play it through more than once.
I wouldn’t usually comment on the quality of a port which is fairly undemanding, but considering how my recent Overcooked review went, I will make an exception. The Cave Story+ port is the very opposite of Overcooked, and the game looks super crisp and beautiful on both HDTV’s and on the Nintendo Switch’s 720p screen. There’s no frame rate drop under any circumstances that I encountered, and the needle sharp controls are completely unimpeded by any glitches of any kind.
In summary, I feel like Cave Story+ for the Nintendo Switch is probably the definitive version of an excellent game, for no other reason than because the short quests, punchy levels and frequent save points suit portable gaming. It’s also a flawless conversion that brings all of the features of the original release. On the downside, I wish it had brought something new – new levels, modes, features or anything really, and because it doesn’t, I would have liked to see it released at a lower price point. As it happens though, you should still at least: