The original freeware platform adventure game Cave Story was released by Daisuke Amaya (Pixel) back in 2004. An English translation from Aeon Genesis followed just two months later, opening the game up to a much wider audience and allowing to vault to the top of the indie gaming world. Featuring amazing music, a well-written story, power-ups, upgrades, and a big world to explore, saying Cave Story was a hit is a gross understatement. Several years later, the game has been ported to half a dozen other systems and re-released with remastered music and updated HD graphics. Now, Cave Story+ is here, upgrading the freeware experience to something your eyes and ears can more fully appreciate!
It all begins with a scientist locked in a room, desperately trying to reach someone called "Sue" through his computer. You find yourself in a cave somewhere, compelled to explore simply because there are open passageways before you. Soon, you wind up in a village where a group of creatures called Mimigas are debating over what to do with someone they're sheltering, a villager called Sue. Eventually you learn of a larger plot involving a mysterious Doctor, and his henchmen come looking for you as your adventure begins.
Cave Story+ is divided into 15 levels that branch out from various hubs in the game. Throughout these levels you'll find more than enough obstacles and dangers to challenge your platforming skills. You'll find various upgrades to your health meter as well as new weapons and items to equip. Every gun has a strength and a weakness and changes the way you'll fight and travel. You'll also collect little bounding triangles that temporarily level up the weapon you have equipped, giving it more firepower and, possibly, an entirely new ability!
As the game progresses, Cave Story+ gets much more intense. The bosses range from tiny creatures to massive foes that will absorb a lot of damage. Some of the quests you'll undertake include helping an injured woman, hunting down stranded puppies, venturing into gigantic dragon eggs, and so much more. The story and setting are wonderfully imaginative, and even if you don't press on and follow the prescribed path to the letter, you'll find some great discoveries in this marvelous game.
Analysis: Our original Cave Story review still speaks volumes about the game, and Cave Story+ is an updated release of that well-tuned title. The differences include cosmetic upgrades and bonus modes you can unlock, including a handful of challenges that aren't for the faint at heart. There's the added bonus of not having to fuss with downloading and installing the translation patch as well (though one could argue this translation is inferior to the Aeon Genesis release). Regardless, if you're new to the game, this is a convenient way to get started, and if you're not, you've probably already installed and played it!
Every aspect of Cave Story was created by one person over the course of five years. The artwork, music, level design and programming is all the work of Pixel, and it's so perfectly constructed you would swear he did nothing but tweak the game over that half decade. Cave Story is a slice of perfection and has become a template other indie game developers love to emulate. Cave Story+ is careful not to mess with that success, and the only differences are surface and peripheral in nature. If the new music and visuals aren't as nice on your senses as the originals, you can mix and match as you please, playing with updated music and classic pixel graphics, new artwork and old music, or turn all the new things off and just play it like it was in 2004.
The Cave Story tribute site has everything you could ever want from the Cave Story releases, including editing and music tools, the English patch, translations into half a dozen non-English languages, and downloads for Mac and Linux (or the TI-83 port you know you want to play). The Steam version of Cave Story+ linked below contains the updates and additions discussed in this review, and it works with both Mac and PC systems.
Cave Story remains one of the best freeware games ever released. If you haven't played it, Cave Story+ makes it a bit more accessible and perhaps more friendly to the eyes and ears. Don't let a game as good as this one fall off your radar!