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“Cave Story 3D” (3DS) Review

by on November 21, 2011

Story 3D (3DS)

NIS America

Nicalis Inc.


Story is a great game. It was originally created as freeware for the PC by
Daisuke Amaya over a five year period and released in 2004. It was
made in part as a homage to the classic games that inspired him.
Daisuke had a real passion for what he was doing, which he poured
into the game. That passion is the reason why the game turned out so
great. For awhile Cave Story lived in relative obscurity but it slowly
gained more and more exposure, until it became known as the best
indie game ever and surged even more when it got received ports on DSiWare and WiiWare. Thanks to that popularity the game has been released once again, this time on the
Nintendo 3DS.

I’m glad to write that this version keeps almost everything that makes Cave
Story great and adds some nice improvements. Unfortunately there is
one major issue right from the start, which is no fault of the game
itself. It it worth buying if you’ve already bought a previous
version? Is it worth paying $40 when it can be bought for only
$12 on the Wii or $10 on the DS? These are the questions I’m going
to shed some light on in this review.


  • Story
    Mode (3D) and Classic Mode (2D).

  • Unlockable
    Time Trial Mode (for Blood Stained Sanctuary only).

  • 10
    unique weapons.

  • Multiple

  • Roughly
    15+ hours of gameplay.

  • 3
    difficultly levels.


play the part of a character who wakes up in a cave with no memory of
who he is. Now, I’m a strong supporter for originality and no one can
reasonably deny that the setup of this game is cliché. Thankfully,
that’s the only part of the story that this can be said about. The storyline itself is
filled with plenty of depth and great, memorable characters. It’s so
well done that I won’t spoil even a moment of it. It gets better and better.

there’s the main story you play through, there’s also another story: the history of the place you’re exploring, which also includes your
own history. This ‘second’ story has just as much depth but isn’t just
told to you, it’s subtly mentioned in bits and pieces. Things are deliberately left unsaid to great effect; it really makes you think. However, there’s also a certain secret area in the game
which you can only make it to if you do everything just right.
This area reveals all the final pieces but the requirements to get there are nearly impossible if you don’t already know what to do in advance, and it’s also the most
challenging area in the game. So if you can unlock the full story,
you’ve earned the right to know the truth!


Cave Story is an action-adventure game with some mild RPG elements, in the
form of being able to level up your weapons. The level system gives
an appropriate boost to each weapon’s powers and abilities. There are ten weapons in all with various abilities, with each one being better for a different situation. I love the variety, though you
can’t have all the weapons at once. Instead there are parts of the game where you can trade a particular weapon for a different one, and some weapons can only be obtained by refusing certain trade offers and accepting a different one. Most of these trades are permanent, so you have to play through the game at
least three times if you want to use all the weapons. 

Those who love
a challenge won’t be disappointed. This game is filled with tricky jumps and there’s even more challenge involved in unlocking the final levels and beating them. Collectors
won’t be disappointed either; there are multiple items in the game that are in it for the sake of collecting. Some easy to obtain,
others not so much. One even requires beating a certain boss battle
without taking any damage! And once the game is over it’s over, so all
items have to be collected before then.

If you’ve played Cave Story before and are hoping for new levels,
you won’t find them. There are only a couple of new areas, including
a secret area with a fun collectible item. But beyond that, the
gameplay is identical to previous versions of Cave Story. I find it a
disappointment that there isn’t more new content; the first new area doesn’t even appear until halfway through the game.


are two modes in this game, story mode and classic mode. I mention this here because the only difference between the modes are the visuals. So
Story Mode must have brand new 3D visuals and Classic Mode must be the
original 2D visuals, right? Wrong! Story Mode is full 3D, but
Classic is only half 2D (characters, enemies, and items) and half 3D
(background and environment). How does this confusing scenario make
any sense? It doesn’t! Why is Classic Mode a hybrid between 2D and
3D? It feels like an incomplete Story Mode. If Classic Mode is
supposed to be for nostalgia than it does a horrible job with the 3D
mixed in. Classic Mode either should have been left out or included the full original 2D graphics. 

the 3D visuals are beautiful and the full 3D effect is incredibly
immersive. Every area is unique and has just the right ambiance. The
only flaw is that the lava looks wrong; it looks more like red water
or blood than deadly hot lava. I would’ve learned what it was the hard way if it hadn’t been for my past experience with the game. Beyond that, I have no complaints with the 3D visuals.


controls for this game are simple yet tricky. You move with the
Circle Pad or Control Pad. You talk, interact, and go through doorways by
pushing down. The only way to access the inventory is to push a small
button on the touch screen, which can be annoying if you have small
fingers. The A B X Y buttons are mirrored, which
means X and B perform the same function just as Y and A do. The problem
is that A is used to attack and B to jump. Not only is this the exact
opposite of almost any other game, it’s also the opposite of the
DSiWare version of Cave Story. This takes some getting used to, though it’s completely tolerable.

real problem with the controls comes into play with the L and R
buttons. The top of the screen displays your weapons and L R let you
switch between them. The weapon to the right of your current weapon can be equipped with the R button, or at least it ought to be. Instead the L and R buttons are reversed and their functions are also opposite of how they were in the DS version of Cave Story. There were many annoying times where I had to switch weapons on the fly
and pushed the wrong shoulder button, thus ending up dead.

put, the controls are screwed up with no way of changing them, so you
either you get used to it or keep dying. I’m just glad they
didn’t somehow reverse the movement controls.


The music here is great, as are the sound effects. The best part is that
the music is very memorable; I thought it was great and suited the game perfectly. I hope
you enjoy it as well.


Story is a great game and despite some issues, Cave Story 3D is the best version to date. If you haven’t experienced Cave
Story yet, then I fully recommend this game. However, if you’ve
already played through Cave Story, there just isn’t enough
new content or improvements to justify the $40 price. I would
wait for the price to go down at least 50% before even considering this version. This is just another version of a game that has
seen a lot of attention lately, and hopefully the last re-release for the immediate future. Don’t get me wrong, I
love this game and it’s a lot of fun, but I’ve played it so many
times in recent memory that I’ve grown exhausted of it.

Score: 8.8
Graphics: 9.5
Controls: 8.0
Gameplay: 10.0
Satisfaction: 8.0
Sound: 8.5

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