Review by zachcrackers
"A perfect remake/remix of the best freeware title I've ever played"
Alright, yeah... I know, haven't submitted a review on here in a while. Gotta get back on track... starting with *drum rolls* CAVE STORY +!
Cave Story is a classic freeware shooter/platformer (constantly compared to Metroid) that was released around 2004 in Japan. Upon release, it was praised for its music, gameplay and retro graphics. When I played the original around 2009, I was stunned and addicted for... god knows how long. It was EASILY the best freeware title I've ever played, and one of the best platformers, commercial OR free, I've played in general as well. I recently played it again around the end of 2011 to get reacquainted with it, and I found it to be just as much fun as it was 2 years ago.
Then I found out they were releasing a '+' version. The hysterical "holy crap" look on my face would have turned a few heads, that's for sure. I got it as a present on Steam from a good friend of mine at the beginning of 2012 and I was AMAZED; it was even more addicting and fun than the original.
But to me, words don't do as much justice as scales do in some cases; how does this apparently stack on top of the original to me? Read on, young bored teen.
--HOLY SMOKES WHERE'S THE PROFANITY AND GUNS (Story)--
Before getting into all the stuff the remake has, let's delve into the game itself for those who haven't played it before, starting with the story.
Of course, being the nice guy I am, I won't spoil an awful lot, but I will point out some rather (well, VERY) unique parts of the story. It starts out rather peculiar and vague; you're some robot dude that randomly appears in a cave and 'borrows' (yeah right, freakin' thief) a Polar Star, then you proceed to shoot some ass with it until you arrive in an area with Mimigas, rabbit-like... things, then the story basically unfolds gradually from there. Characters are quirky and varied, which is cool.
For the majority of the game, it's honestly not DRASTICALLY different from the typical Nintendo faux-kiddy stuff you're exposed to. It's at least interesting enough to hold your attention so you won't get bored and be all "screw it I'll just play this to shoot things". However, around the last few areas, the game takes a tremendous slap across the face and becomes much darker and much more deep. Again, won't spoil anything, but just expect to see some elements that are much more twisted than you'd expect from a game like this at first glance once you get late into the game. By that point, instead of just mostly rolling along with whatever happened, I was so engrossed and interested that I literally paid full attention to each and every other story detail the game threw at me. Excellent stuff.
Overall score: 8 - Cliche at first? Unfortunately, yeah. Totally wicked awesome and deep and twisted late in the game? You bet, bro. Worth the toils through the cheesy humor and generic "save the world" archetypes.
--DA GFX (Graphics)--
Although obvious, Cave Story shoots the sh-I mean for a retro look, which just shows in every visual orface of the game. Might as well click [X] if you're expecting Metro 2033-tier graphics, but if you actually know what you're getting yourself into, you'll be rewarded with an 8-bit feast on the nostalgic eyes. The game is presented in NES-style 8-bit visuals, with tremendous results. For NES-graphics, this is a damn stunning game; sprites and environments are absolutely perfect and fit the game to an 'A'. Of course, they'll only BE perfect, again, if you know what to expect; in general terms, CS might come off as mediocre/crappy graphics-wise. To me, for what it's trying to look like, CS delivers like a fresh pizza.
Overall score: 9 - Comparing to the stunning HD games of today in general, it lacks for sure, but with knowledge of what the creator intended, you'll grow to love the game's style like I do.
--2 PAC NOT IN THIS? I DUB THIS JOINT DRULLIN (Audio)--
I won't comment alot on the sound effects; they sound like they're... supposed to sound for this type of game. The weapons sound like weapons, jumps sound like jumps, explosions sound like 8-bit-tacular explosions, you get the deal. Nothing revolutionary, but horrible is not the term I'd use to describe the sound effects either.
But the music?
Oh goooood the music.
Fantastically fantastic and excellent. Every single track in this game is good in its own right, from the main theme all the way to the credits theme. Hell, just go search "cave story music" on YouTube or something and expose your ears to some of the best 8-bit joints around. Claiming it's just beeps and boops is a cruel lie. The final boss music is my personal favorite track, but to each his own. In any case, there are literally NO bad tracks in this whole game. Zilch. Nada. Not one I can think of. Listen, love, remember.
Overall scores: 8 for sound effects - Perfect for this type of game, but don't expect open pants zippers due to them.
111111111 for music - Now expect MANY open pants zippers for this! Not one single track I don't love or at least like.
--Jumping on that same Koopa shell for the 5th billionth time, or unparalleled innovation? (Gameplay)--
Story? Quite swell (mostly). Graphics? Stylish. Audio? Poppin'.
Gameplay? More addictive than the generic illegal drugs you get from hobos.
EVERYTHING about the gameplay in this game is so perfectly executed and addicting that you'll foam at the mouth from playing it for simply 5 minutes. Even the very first minute you get the Polar Star and just go around exploring the beginning cave and shooting some animals proves to be quite fun.
But just wait until you get around to the first few areas; the game sprouts its wings like a phoenix. The game will CONSTANTLY throw new areas, weapons (examples: rocket launchers (Missile Launcher), machine guns (Machine Gun... hurp), laser guns (Spur), even a freaking BUBBLE SHOOTER (Bubbline, how awesome is that name? Okay maybe not awesome but hey sounds pretty cool to me regardless); like, holy wow), tons of bosses, awesome platforming, intense shooting and secrets at you from then on. You'll think about what to do and how to do it at every corner. I was genuinely never bored playing this game even once, it's incredible how a FREEWARE title exuded these feelings from me. And with three possible endings, clever RPG elements such as upgradable health and weapon EXP (obtainable by getting the little Dorito things enemies drop upon defeating, affecting weapons greatly or minorly; this depends on the weapon, which is just a fantastic move variety-wise) and a devilishly paced difficulty curve (more on dat sutf latr), you know a game has achieved gaming perfection when it throws all this awesome stuff at you and gets every bit of it right.
Overall score: 10 - The level of polish and gargantuan amount of fun trumps many 2D platformers I've played, and easily every freeware game I've ever played. Feel proud, Pixel. You should.
--Going to be playing this as much as Call of Duty: Shoot Those Soldiers Yet Again Edition? (Replayability)--
The ONLY possible flaw I can think of in this game (though at the same time, it's a positive as well) is that it's short. It'll take you a respectable amount of time at first, but once you're used to how everything works, you can plow through the game in 3 hours tops. I know I have. But because the game has multiple endings you'll want to experience along with some secret areas only obtainable via a certain route through the game that you'll most likely not take the first time, and with speed run and low health challenges/mods peppered all throughout the grand land that is the internet by masochists/badasses, you'll very quickly become aware that the game's built to be played AT THE VERY LEAST several times before you're done with it and not just once so you can put it on your e-shelf and let it collect e-dust. The low length makes it that much easier to post some speedruns for those with the attention span of a sugar-addicted cat lady, in any case.
Overall score: 9 - It's not long, that's for sure; unless you suck. But the huge amount of replayability makes for a game you'll be busy with for weeks (maybe even months/years depending on your impeding addiction) to come.
--BATTLETOADS: THE FREEWARE GAME? (Difficulty)--
It really depends.
On a normal scale, I'd rate this game as decently difficult. Some bosses gave me a pretty good run for my money; hell, one boss basically took the 3-health challenge I was doing and spat, burnt, ran over, crapped on, chewed, and massacred it like that cheap unintelligent blonde you hired to take over for you at your job at Lowe's. But for the most part, I never wanted to literally break my keyboard into a bazillion pieces. It was manageable. Mostly. Yeah. Still a decent challenge, though, like I said. Never EVER terribly easy.
Overall score: 7 - Hard as h-e-double hockey sticks? No. But hey, not easy as those edu-games you slobbered all over your mouse day-and-night to best as a lollipop-gorging infant.
--BUT ENOUGH JIBBA-JABBA, LET'S GET DOWN TO THE MEAT N' BONES (The Remake's Content)--
Okay, the other main purpose of this review. I'll try not to bore you to sleep.
The game, first and foremost, offers HD graphics that look BEAUTIFUL, especially at actual HD resolutions assuming your rig can TAKE ITTTTT; really though, if you can run most recent games just fine, you should have no issues with this game. PC requirements for the remake are relatively un-steep.
Remastered music! Holy beach balls! It sounds fantastic, too. Some people want to violently remove their ears from listening to the remastered 8-bit goodness, but I found each remastered track to be remarkably well done, even better than the original (which, believe you me, is saying LOADS).
New play modes, such as Boss Rush, Wind Fortress (more like a new non-story-exclusive area, but hey counts to me), Curly Mode, and other stuff! I'll tell you right now, though; DEFINITELY give the Boss Rush a go, funnest Boss Rush mode of any game I've ever played. Trying to get records for Steam achievements, in my opinion, just sweetens the deal. There are also some difficulty modes, such as the notorious Hard mode (you WILL rage TONS while playing this, trust me).
Better controller support (kind of, I guess, never paid much attention since keyboard).
Mods are easier to access... since the most notable ones are already pre-installed and called modes now!
COOLEST FEATURE EVER: Mix/match music and visuals. Innovative like you wouldn't believe it. If you want dem shiny HD graphics but abhor the new music (you'd be insane to miss out on some of the remixes, though, in my opinion), bask in the awesomeness that is the 2 seconds of pre-game configuring... WHILE IN-GAME!
And... that's all I can remember for now.
--THE FINAL COUNTDOOOWWWNNNNN (Buy/Rent (pff renting cave story)/Burn/Crap on/Download/Blackmail your nerdy friend into getting for you with ecchi anime?)--
Tough call. Kind of.
I'd DEFINITELY say buy this if you absolutely HAVEN'T played this game ONCE before, as this is the perfect way to become introduced to the awesomeness that is Cave Story. I'd still say buy it if you've experienced the game before, as all the cool crap thrown in here is enough to justify shelling out some lunch money. If the stuff ain't enough convincing (dunno why it wouldn't be), then you might wanna just save, I suppose.
Hope my review helped you make a decision. Kind of, at least!
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 04/25/12
Game Release: Cave Story Plus (US, 11/22/11)
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