Before Pixel (Daisuke Amaya) created Cave Story, he created Ikachan, a simple, Metroidvania-type game starring a squid named...Ikachan. It's no Cave Story, but it is a fun game in its own right, albeit very short.
The game starts out with the simple message, "You wake up to realize that you're somewhere deep underwater. Swim, Ikachan!" From there, you swim onward and try to figure out what to do and where to go. You're limited on where you can go from the outset, but power-ups will open up the game's map as you progress.
Ikachan's movement is simple. If you press A or B, he will swim. Moving the analog stick left or right while he's swimming will propel him at a 45 degree angle in that direction. The more you tap A or B, the more momentum Ikachan will get. It's helpful for getting around, but it's also easy to run into enemies and spikes if you're moving too fast. The other buttons are a little less useful. X or Y pulls up your inventory, which is ever-changing because of the errands you'll be running for the sea urchins. Start and select pause the game. The bottom screen is a map throughout the whole game in case you get lost.
You'll be interacting with a few sea urchins, seen here.
Speaking of enemies, there are a few you'll need to worry about. Crabs, fish, and starfish mostly, plus a couple of boss fights. So how does a squid deal with such enemies? By smacking his head into their bellies (once you have the right power-up). Killing an enemy gives you experience points. Get enough experience points and you level up, earning more health and strengthening Ikachan's attacks. You can also earn experience by collecting food (which is the easy way to earn experience early).
Ikachan looks pretty in a retro way. It looks similar to Cave Story, but that's to be expected since that was Pixel's creation too. The game's 3D is helpful for depth and doesn't slow it down at all. There's isn't much music outside of a few tunes, but they're pleasant on the ears.
My only gripe with Ikachan is the game's length. I went into it never playing or knowing much about where to go, and I still finished it in a little over an hour. Still, there is a lot of charm packed into the short game, and I'm glad that Pixel didn't try to pad the game with unnecessary filler. In a way, this makes Ikachan worth replaying, but once you've played through it once, you've pretty much seen everything.
I'm a hungry squid!
So is Ikachan worth it? I think so. It's a very relaxing exploration game with charm. Short, but fun. It's $4.99 on the 3DS eShop, and I don't regret my purchase one bit.