I'll start by saying that this was my first experience with Cave Story or Cave Story+. I hadn't heard of it before it was announced for the Switch and was subsequently told that it is a game with a bit of history, having been released initially on PC in 2004. So my experience of Cave Story+ has been an entirely fresh one. How this caveat affects my review, well, I'll let you be the judge on that one.
In terms of the titular "Story" of the game, rather than setting the scene and establishing things from the start, you are drip-fed information particularly about the main character's identity throughout the game in reactions from NPCs and odd little comments from hooded figures hidden on high platforms. This certainly adds a good level of intrigue to the game and at least part of my desire to keep playing this game was formed by that intrigue.
The world in which this game is set is a quirky and charming one, as is to be expected from an indie platformer like this one. An underground cave world inhabited by rabbit people and robots, terrorised by a giant television demon (called Balrog?!) and a cyber witch working for a mysterious doctor conducting some sort of hyper-vivisection experiments? Yep, that'll do it, that gets the quirky stamp of approval right out of the gate.
When it comes to the structure of the game and how much you can explore this kooky cave network, the game is linear at its core. You broadly follow each 'level' to a 'boss' after which you grab some sort of power-up/add-on and continue on to the next section. However the game does reward you for doing a little bit of exploration in the form of Metroid-style health or ammo buffs and some sections of the game even require you to do so to progress.
As far as the gameplay goes, Cave Story is most certainly a platformer. In fact, I'd go further and call it a "precision platformer". The amount of times I was stuck trying to make a precise jump to a single block and failing only to fall back to the start of a section, I lost count! Now whether or not I found this frustrating because of how the game is designed or because of my ham-fisted approach to difficult platformers like this, I don't know (though I suspect the latter). And I'll be honest this game is difficult. Not impossible, but difficult to the point that I'm presently stuck in the game to the point where I can see what I need to do to progress but I haven't 'tried and died' enough to get through it (and by the way, I'm not even talking about the hard mode, I can't even imagine what horrors lie there). On the other hand, games that are this difficult present an appropriate level of challenge, a challenge that calls you to raise your game and be a better gamer. Now I like to think I'm a patient person but I know some people are certainly not and I do wonder how this game would be received by those people.
But in conclusion, if you're actually good at video games, then I can't see any barriers to you enjoying this game. Once I stopped sucking and made some progress, it was exciting to see how the rest of this Cave Story unfolded
Nicalis kindly provided us with a digital code for Cave Story+ on the Nintendo Switch. This game was reviewed by Laurence Turpin, a man with incredible musical talent, a love of games and incredibly proficient at growing facial hair. Follow him on twitter @YourFriendLauro