E3 09: Hands-on with Cave Story Wii

Cave Story is probably one of my favorite games of all time. It has everything a great game ought to have; fun gameplay, a variety of weapons, a compelling story, and best of all, amazing sprite work and music. When it was announced that Pixel agreed to work on a port to WiiWare, I was pretty much ecstatic. Ever since then, we’ve only been strung along with images of the game’s progress. They show that Pixel is making some great graphical changes to the game, but I really wanted to see those polished pixels in action. Today, I got my wish.

At Nintendo’s booth, they have coupled all of their upcoming WiiWare game demos into one station. There are a few other really interesting game to play there, but for the duration of my time at that specific console, I only played Cave Story Wii, my mouth agape at what I was doing. I was playing Cave Story, the little indie game that could, in front of a whole crowd of people at E3!

Hit the jump to read my impressions of the game after a bit of time spent alone with it.

Cave Story Wii is pretty much a straight port of the PC version of the game, as we all were expecting. It will have exclusive content, but everything I played was pulled straight from the original. And really, I don’t feel any disappointment toward that. More than anything, people deserve to play the game in its original, pure form, and that’s exactly what the Cave Story Wii demo provided.

The controls feel exactly the same as the PC version, even though there was a controller in front of me, rather than a keyboard. The game uses the sideways Wiimote control scheme, and it’s as simple as simple can be: 1 shoots, 2 jumps. The D pad controls the direction of the shot and movement. It is pretty much perfect in its simplicity, although the main character keeps his floaty jump from the PC version of the game. I had a bit of trouble making a few jumps over deadly obstacles that required a little more precision than usual, but the floatiness never made things harder than they needed to be.

As I’ve mentioned several times by now, the game looks simply amazing. Once you start a new game, there are all the cutscenes and areas that fans of the game have been familiar with for years, only much more strikingly beautiful. The characters and environments have all been redrawn to be bigger and more detailed. Even the game’s simplistic title screen has had a complete overhaul. It may not sound like a big thing to say that the main character now has a mouth that you can see, but it most certainly is in this case. As for the sound, I couldn’t really tell you about it. The one thing that I wish I could have gotten a better grasp on during my playthrough was the music. I’ve been worried about the updated sound ever since I first saw the Cave Story Wii website, and noting that the music samples, while enhanced, didn’t quite capture the same spirit of the game as the chiptunes Pixel originally produced did.

All in all, I truly believe that Cave Story Wii is a WiiWare release to look out for, if you haven’t been looking forward to it already. The game translates very well to the Wii, and it will finally grant us a chance to give Daisuke a little bit of compensation for all of his years of hard work. It may already be available as a free PC game, but it will most certainly be worth purchasing on the Wii, if only to support the artist.

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Ashley Davis
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