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Cave Story 3D: And I Quote...

Company: NIS America

Cave Story is an interesting story in game development. Released as a freeware game back in 2004, the game was developed by Daisuke Amaya - also know as Pixel - over the course of five years. After its release, the game gained loads of attention from the indie community, making numerous "Best Game" lists and even helping to pave the way for other indie success stories.

Since its release, the game has slowly made the jump from PC freeware title to paid console title. It first appeared as a WiiWare and DSIWare title, earning the best praise of all - loyal customers willing to purchase the title. Now the game is taking another leap, this time to 3D.

Cave Story 3D, set for release in about a week from NIS America, is the same game as previous releases, but with a visual upgrade. Actually, that's only partially true. Cave Story 3D includes two visual modes: the oddly named "Story Mode" and the more understandable "Classic Mode." The difference between the two is purely visual. You play through the exact same game in either mode; only in Story Mode you're presented with upgraded visuals. In Classic Mode, you're instead presented with the same rendered world as Story Mode, but with the original pixilated visuals in place of the upgraded characters.

The revamped 3D visuals are awesome, especially when the 3D is activated. In fact, the game looks almost completely different in 3D. With 3D on, you get a neat sense of depth; items pop off the screen and the cavernous tunnels seem to go on forever. It's incredibly cool to see how the world comes to life, especially since Cave Story 3D is one of the least obtrusive 3D titles I've played on the 3DS. I suffered from some eyestrain after a couple of hours worth of play (which is understandable), but I've never felt compelled to switch off the 3D because it was annoying.

Classic Mode's visuals look odd at first, but have a unique charm. I sometimes had a hard time figuring out which mode I wanted to play. The neat thing is progress from one mode is duplicated in the other. So, if you decide to play in Story Mode, but want to switch to Classic, you can start off exactly where you left off in the other mode.

Actually describing Cave Story 3D's premise is difficult. Not that I couldn't lay the entire story out for you right now, but telling would only spoil the surprise. Similar to its Metroid-like gameplay, much of the game's story is left for the player to discover as they travel through each world. You start out as a boy named Quote, who wakes up in a cave deep underground with no recollection of who he is, or how he got there. Quote eventually gets tied up in the locals' affairs, leading him to bigger adventures. The story is confusing at first, but incredibly engaging as it unfolds over the course of the game.

Gameplay is based purely around platforming and exploration. A big part of the game is also built around collecting weapons, which you can upgrade by collecting yellow triangles from fallen enemies. These triangles feed into a meter and act like experience points. You can upgrade your gun up to three levels, however you'll lose experience on your weapon every time you're hit. This creates a cool dynamic, particularly during boss battles, since you have to make sure you don't get hit. Otherwise, you'll do less damage and are in for a much harder fight.

You can also collect health and other upgrades tucked in parts of each area. The 3DS version will also include a new area to explore.

If you happened to miss the PC version, or any of the game's previous releases, make sure you add Cave Story 3D to your list. It's something you don't want to miss.

Cave Story 3D will be available November 8, 2011.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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