Can Quote and Curly Brace survive the jump to 3D?
I had another run with Cave Story 3D at NIS America's summer press event. Much further along than when I saw it last, the game is shaping up to be an attractive re-imaging of the classic title.
The fresh coat of paint and new 3D models change the atmosphere of the game significantly, in a positive way. Instead of repeating tiles of rocks, caves are organic, with plants, logs, and running water. The graphics look pretty good in motion, better than the static screens let on. In particular, the lighting effects are done well, and the stereoscopic 3D, while unnecessary for the 2D side-scrolling nature of the game, does add a bit of immersion. The models are a little low poly, though; hopefully, Nicalis can push more detail out of the graphics engine before release. I didn't get a chance to see the new 2D-characters-in-a-3D-environment mode, though I imagine it will be similar to the game as it was the first time I saw it.
The bottom screen is switchable between inventory and a map (after obtaining it). The map is similar to the top screen in Kirby's Canvas Curse, though it shows the entirety of the cave you're currently traversing. The map also highlights doors, making the backtracking nature of the game a little easier to handle.
My biggest concern with Cave Story 3D is the camera, which is zoomed in a bit compared to the original. The camera has a little lag when following the player, and the angles imposed by it can cause players to misjudge jumps -- I experienced this, as did others I watched try the game. And though the camera is zoomed in, it's too zoomed out to see character expressions; those are still left to pop-up dialog boxes. Hopefully, it will all be better tuned before final release.
From what little I heard, the music is shaping up nicely, featuring new renditions of the original's tunes, remixed by Danny Baranowski. Other than the new presentation, it's pretty much the same Cave Story we know and love. The dialog, cutscenes, and gameplay remain almost eerily intact.
Pixel purists may have a problem with the changes, but overall, Cave Story 3D makes the game more palatable to the masses. As long as the developers are careful, and under the guidance of original developer Daisuke Amaya, hopefully they are, Cave Story 3D will fulfill its potential as the ultimate version of what started as a humble man's labor of love.