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The Ten: Updated Wednesdays-Fridays-Sundays

Monday, November 7, 2011

Botany Kills! Or, let's talk about Cave Story!

Make no mistake, kids, science experiments can (and often do) go wrong!

So Cave Story 3D is coming out today, I figured we'd discuss the nature of the game. If you've been hearing a lot about this game because of Wiiware, DSi, and now 3DS, it's because it's a damn good one. Now, it's actually very much like a Nintendo title, which is probably why it's being supported by the company. But in truth, Cave Story is a freeware game.

For those of you who don't know what freeware is- it's everything else you've seen that you would consider a video game that is not for a "console"- everything on addictinggames, facebook, and the like. Anything you can play for "free" essentially. Of course, the formation of Steam has kind of changed the game a bit- independent gaming studios have risen to make their names for themselves by releasing good games. For a gaming studio, it's not impressive to make a solid pixel-based game. For a single person, it totally is. Pixel, the creator of Cave Story, designed the characters, music, art, and game mechanics all by himself, creating a Metroid-like game with a health and combat system never seen before.

People eat that up! Cave Story gained popularity very quickly as a freeware game, as it was offered... you know... for free. Its story is charming and deep, its gameplay addictive and fun, and the simplicity of art style reminds one of the old Nintendo titles. It's cute and pixely but also deep and challenging.

Nintendo turned it into a Wiiware title, so essentially, Pixel reached "game studio" level based on all of his own work. However, the Wiiware released version came with quite the bag of extra features, such as playing as another character, a boss rush mode, which only made people love it more. Needless to say, it's a pretty awesome game.

But with a game like Cave Story, you can either do one of two things- add stuff to the original, already brief game OR make a sequel. People want to see the beautiful artistic landscapes and improved features that a sequel would bring. Instead, Cave Story is getting a 3D release... a very 3D release.

Now, the original game's charm comes from its graphics. They harken back to a simpler time, when graphics were blockier and could achieve just as much atmosphere as any 3D game. So take that out of the Cave Story formula. You have a nicer-version of a old game. Many people would liken this to Metroid or Mario or Zelda- nicer graphics versions of their original gameplay. Classics, so to speak.

Except Cave Story isn't a classic- it's designed like a classic. Except here is part two of its charm- its gameplay. Cave Story is designed to introduce us to concepts and such based on the "classics" game design- letting the player learn their surroundings. It also features a lot more depth than one would think, with a weapon system that is combined with health to create a real issue and strategy when it comes to combat. Anyway, it's always nice to see this gameplay, as it rewards the player for being smart. But once you've done a runthrough of a boss and figured out what strategy works, what's making yo ugo back and want to play him again? Maybe another playable character or new rewards... but Cave Story 3D has neither.

Again, the third part of Cave Story's success is its story. The updated graphics may add something to the drama and interest of the plot, but then again, they may not... sometimes the original charm of the first game works so well because of its poor graphics attempting to tell an epic story. In any case, the story is good, and sometimes worth a replay, but a whole new purchase? Hmmm.

Since Cave Story 3D lacks any NEW content (Some new portions are said to be included in some areas, but they are few), it doesn't necessarily warrant a purchase. It is even lacking some of the features of the "definitive" version of the game, like Boss Rush and an alternate character. I mean, I love the game and all, but if I have the version with boss rush and alternate character mode, what am I getting this new Cave Story for? It may have the aura of a classic game, but it doesn't have the legacy of one, so its not like "it's about time" this game came out in 3D.

But all of that aside, some people don't have the Freeware or Wiiware versions, and if this is your first time hearing about Cave Story, this game could be a nice way of hopping into the series. Of course, there technically are versions out there with more content BUT less graphical quality. But... well, Nintendo doesn't want you to know that.

In other words, I'm not sure if I will be purchasing Cave Story 3D. The graphics don't really sell it for me. However, if I knew a gamer who wasn't aware of freeware and this game, I would recommend they pick this title when it is released- and then get a better version of it, too. It's worth a play, even so. Cave Story is just a damn good game.

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