It's been awhile since I last touched my 3DS. Most of the games worth getting excited for aren't out until later this year and, ironically, despite the 3D release of Ocarina of Time, my 3DS has still been the sour victim of the cold shoulder.
Catching up with NIS America at E3 this year, I managed to get some hands-on time with their new side-scrolling action game from Nicalis, Cave Story 3D. I'll admit, I've never played the original, nor have I touched the re-release on WiiWare. However, this is exactly why I can recommend 3DS users to keep an eye out for Cave Story 3D. It's fun and certainly looks cute and all, but looks are deceiving as I soon found out.
The premise is simple, players have control of Quote, the main character of Cave Story. It's all played out on a 2D plane rendered out in 3D. Just think of Street Fighter IV, it's exactly like that, except it's a platformer, but I digress. Quote can run back and forth, jump and shoot if he has a weapon equipped. If you've already played the original or re-release, then you know quite well how Cave Story plays.
It may sound simple, but playing through the game proved otherwise. There are no checkpoints in levels and players can expect to die plenty of times. It's almost like a super cute Demon's Souls, which makes dying all the more painful. What was really surprising is how responsive the controls were. Where most 3DS titles suffer bits of lag thanks to the 3D, Cave Story excels in being super fluid and, if you think about how hostile the levels are, responsive controls are pretty important in a game like this.
Nicalis have re-imagined just about everything about this version of Cave Story. While the story is the same, all the levels have been recreated in 3D graphics and, while the screenshots honestly do not do the game any justice, it looks good with the 3D turned on. It's not quite in-your-face, which is good. In fact, it's a very subtle 3D effect that really makes the environment pop.
The only complaint, aside from being really bad at the game, is the doorways are a bit tough to spot with the way levels are lit. Since the game takes place underground, a lot of it is ambient lighting. However, that's just a minor gripe, the new 3D environments are a treat to explore even with hostile red spikes lining the cavern floors and ceilings of a certain level.
The demo was certainly a surprising experience. Not only did Cave Story 3D look good, it played good as well. Responsive controls, challenging levels, an absolutely adorable art style juxtaposed with some hardcore platforming, this is definitely a title worth getting excited for.