What is more useful than evaluating each new version is unpacking the differences between the many, many versions. With that in mind, the new Cave Story for the 3DS on eShop is Cave Story in 3D, but it is not Cave Story 3D.
There are basically three different "types" of Cave Story, in the simplest possible terms. "Original" Cave Story is as it first appeared on the PC in 2004, with low-res pixel art and chiptuney music all designed by one man, game designer Daisuke "Pixel" Amaya. The WiiWare version of Cave Story followed, along with a PC version, featuring new art by Pixel and other artists, remixed music, and added material. Following its Steam release, this version would be called Cave Story+. Finally, Cave Story 3D was a full polygonal remake, released on 3DS last year.
This new 3DS version has the graphics and music from "Original" Cave Story, along with the new "Wind Fortress" level, "Curly Story" mode, and other challenge modes from Cave Story+. It also has optional widescreen graphics, customizable button settings, and, of course, stereoscopic 3D backgrounds.
It's unquestionably better than the DSiWare version – which isn't available through the 3DS eShop anyway – which makes this whole discussion less complicated. The customizable controls and extra content make this the best way to experience classic Cave Story in a handheld setting. The retail Cave Story 3D is still interesting and worth playing through to see all the reinterpreted characters and environments, but this new 3DS version is the best portable release of the game as most people know it.
Did I mention that you should play it? In whatever version you want, on whatever platform you have, you should absolutely play Cave Story. I've played through it countless times and I still love it.
Cave Story will be available for $9.99 in the 3DS eShop on October 4. We're always looking for new distractions. Want to submit your game for Portabliss consideration? You can reach us at portabliss aat joystiq dawt com.