Games of the Past REVIEW: The Many Versions of Cave Story

Saturday, September 29th, 2012

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Cave Story on DSiWare

It’s the PC version with a revamped interface to suit two screens, as well as a Jukebox to freely listen to the game’s (original, unaltered) jammin’ tunes. And, of course, resolution is scaled down to fit the DSi.  I should just skip right on passed this version of the game because Cave Story+ that’s about to hit the eShop will render it inferior (so much so that the DSiWare Cave Story is probably going to be removed from the eShop itself, leaving only DSi owners / early adopters that have migrated to 3DS to experience this version of the game).


Instead of talking about this version of the game at length, I’ll offer a bit of news that makes me sad:

“[The eShop version of Cave Story+] won’t be a free update, unfortunately. I fought really hard to try to get it to be just a ‘simple’ update; I feel that Nintendo wanted the same thing too, but the logistics behind it are pretty huge. The good thing is that if you already bought the DSiWare version on your 3DS and ever delete it, you’ll still be able to download it. The update won’t stop you from playing the prior version of the game.”

Also: “It can’t do the Steam version’s art or music, the former because of resolution, the latter because the file size would get massive.”

So, that’s $9.99 that handheld enthusiasts will have to shell out, same as what the DSiWare version is currently listed at (but not for long!).

The eShop version of Cave Story+ will be identical to the DSiWare version of Cave Story that many are familiar with, but it has improved resolution built for the 3DS, the stereoscopic 3D that fans of the system love, and levels and features from the WiiWare version of the game, as well as those of…

Cave Story+ (Steam)

What version of Cave Story is best for you largely depends upon the way you game. For someone like me that’s a handheld gamer first and a console gamer second. I would sooner recommend Cave Story+ coming to the eShop over the WiiWare and Steam versions of Cave Story.

This game offers a wealth of content that far outclasses any version released previously, and it will probably continue to outclass the ones that come after it on other devices (including the iOS, which cannot compete with even the DSi no matter how hard it tries), if only because Steam makes it so very easy to update for free. The game started out with crisp, HD visuals and improved “new” audio of the game that took the 8bit sounds of the PC version and made them clearer versus trying to “remix” them. It also added in some exclusive features like “Nemesis Mode” and the “Wind Fortress” level seen below.


I would recommend the Steam version of Cave Story+ to anyone looking to experience the most dynamic version of the game. This is as good as it gets, and it definitely outshines its console and portable-based brothers. The Steam version is available at $9.99 as well, which makes it cheaper than its WiiWare counterpart, despite offering much more content. I suppose it’s becoming more and more apparent how pithy the WiiWare version of the game has become over time, outside of it being the only way to experience Cave Story on a console.

Cave Story 3D

Discussing this game comes easy enough; convincing people to buy it is a trial in and of itself. You see, this is a retail version of Cave Story built especially for 3DS. It features hand-drawn art, a use of stereoscopic 3D that is truly without peer, and an absolutely outstanding soundtrack that was remastered exclusively for this game.

I don’t regret paying so much to play Cave Story 3D because I got to hear this song…. So…..good!

Except…that wonderful soundtrack is now available on the Steam version of Cave Story+ absolutely free—so one of the three things that made this game a unique experience has been taken away from it. When you consider that the version of Cave Story+ coming to the eShop will feature stereoscopic 3D that no doubt shows the same attention to detail and care—there’s two out of three unique features now taken away.


All that’s left is the fact that this game features fully rendered graphics (read: no 8bit) and that it’s a physical copy. But with a physical copy comes its price of $40 new (when it was first released—even now you’re still looking at paying $30 for the game on Amazon). So—NISAmerica was trying to convince loyals to pay two to three times as much for new graphics and a soundtrack that’s already available to Steam players.

There are some new levels, but they’re very short. And there’s a cameo or two from other games published by NISAmerica. And there’s a few more Life Containers spread around the world to make your journey through Hell that much easier. But really…I cannot recommend this game in good faith. The art is beautiful, and the soundtrack is without peer—but it offers absolutely no additional features outside of the main story and a Hell Time-Attack mode.

I really wanted the retail version of the game to be the definitive one, but it is ultimately the one with the least amount of original, exclusive content to offer to fans of the game(s).

My final thoughts

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