Cave Story + (Review) Nintendo Switch

Cave Story + (Review) Nintendo Switch
Review Score:

Cave Story + by developer Nicalis is a run-and-gun platformer that first appeared on PC back in 2004. Praised for its stylish, 8-bit graphics, compelling storyline and retro-style game mechanics, the game went on to appear on both the Nintendo Wii (as a Wiiware release) and the Nintendo 3DS respectively.

The Nintendo Switch release of Cave Story is a modern rendition of the PC classic, but with 1080p graphics and the option to play on the go. Like the original game, the player controls a nameless hero who finds himself on a mysterious, floating island with no memory of his past. As the player explores the island, they will encounter the Mimigas — a race of small, white rabbits that are being tormented by an evil scientist and his group of henchmen.

Cave Story is presented as a 2D side-scroller that has the player exploring an expansive world full of creatures and traps. The caves are filled with environmental dangers like red crystals that can injure or even kill the protagonists. Just jumping into these red crystals will inflict damage.

There are plenty of other hazards awaiting the player. For example: Creatures like bats fly in vertical patterns, making it difficult to pass through certain sections. Swimming can also pose a challenge, especially if you stay under for too long. The game only gives the player ninety-nine seconds to surface before drowning.

The later levels are challenging and become increasingly difficult as the player progresses. The Egg corridor, for example, has little blue critters that hop and chase after the player. Flying beetles and other insects will attack if the player tries to jump over obstacles. A large buzz saw at the bottom of the level moves from one end of the screen to the other, following the player when they try to use the bottom corridor to reach an egg. Avoiding this trap can be very difficult; it takes precise timing and a lot of patience.

The game has a leveling system that increase the protagonist’s health, level, and weapon strength. When killed, creatures will drop yellow experience crystals that must be collected before they disappear. Health can be replenished by using heart boxes. These boxes are located at save points that resemble red floppy disks.

Weapons are a staple in Cave Story. The player can use up to 5 weapons at a time, but some of them are hidden and require extensive exploring to find. Each weapon has 3 levels; these can be increased by collecting crystals dropped by creatures, but will decrease when the player gets hit. Some weapons like the Snake, Spur, and Super Missile Launcher increase their range when they reach level 3, while weapons like the Polar Star receive a damage increase.

Cave Story’s world branches out into different routes that can lead to three possible endings. There are five areas to explore, along with multiple mini-zones and a secret world. Since Cave Story is portrayed as a living world, most of the areas change to reflect the story when revisited later.

The platforming elements work seamlessly on the Nintendo Switch regardless of the way the game is played (i.e. docked or in portable mode). Where the gameplay really shines, though, is during the boss battles. While the first boss, Balrog, is easy to defeat, later bosses like Igor and The Red Demon put your gaming reflexes to the test.

Graphically, Cave Story + looks incredible on the Nintendo Switch. When docked, the sprites and backgrounds look incredibly smooth in 1080p. The game looks just as good in portable mode, even though the graphics are displayed in 720p. There are no performance issues to speak of whatsoever.

As far as retro-style games are concerned, Cave Story + for Nintendo Switch is the best version to own. It retains the game mechanics and stylish-graphics from its Nintendo 3DS counterpart, while somehow maintaining a gameplay experience that feels unique to the Nintendo Switch. Developer Nicalis deserves a firm pat on the back for a job well done.

Mike Pittaro
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Nicalis
Publisher: Nicalis, inc.
ESRB: E 10+ (Everyone 10+)
Price: $29.99

Cave Story + Official Website:

Review Score
Cave Story + looks incredible on the Nintendo Switch.
Ear-popping sound effects and a memorable sound track.
The platforming elements work seamlessly on the Nintendo Switch, regardless of the way the game is played.
Cave Story + for Nintendo Switch is the best version to own.
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