Title: Cave Story
Platform: PC (See here for free download)
Developer: Studio Pixel
Publisher: The Internet
Release Date: Long ago
Free Metroid-esque game.
Those that aren't hardcore Metroid fans, or have no clue of what I just said, please follow me. Chances are, the Metroid gamers and people who respect good games have already downloaded this and started playing by the time you finish this paragraph.
Cave Story is a platform shooter game where you explore different areas of a large dungeon and fight hordes of monsters, coupled with fighting bosses. It is a game that was in development by Studio Pixel for approximately 5 years, and is currently in production for a PSP port (which isn't free).
The graphics of Cave Story is 8-bit in order to make it as small as possible for the PC owner both in terms of system requirements (any system that can run XP should be able to handle it) and to make it simple to customize. In all, the graphics of this game is well below current console games, and is closer to the graphics you'd expect from the original Nintendo. With that, it recreates a world that is very pretty for an 8-bit game.
Deeper than most games out in this generation. The storyline is easily integrated into gameplay, and a nice story it is indeed. You are stranded within this cave, in which you must find your way to escape. Meanwhile, you are aided by several allies such as the mimiga (cute little dog-like beings) and other humans in your quest. As always, there is something sinister in this cave, and you'll obviously have to confront those people. The storyline, while it can be predictable, is full of charm and is a well fit for an 8-bit game.
The gameplay of this game is strong. The controls were sensitive and listened to your every command well. The game's core "shoot and platform" is akin to games such as Metroid and Mega Man, where you can equip a number of weapons to use against enemies that spawn on the screen.
The twist in this game is that all weapons have levels. These levels tend to max out quickly, but at the same time they would level down whenever you get hit, in which you must collect orange triangles from defeated enemies to relevel your weapon. The selection of weapons are large (usually 4-5 in a regular playthrough), with several different "hidden" weapons that can be acquired by trading existing weapons at certain places. Each weapon is incredibly unique and has their own unique strengths and weaknesses.
Items tend to be sparse, but eventually you will be able to get other support items such as the jet pack, which aids in your jumping. Most other items tend to be rare, or are simply quest items that are required.
Progression through the story tends to be linear, but exploration of areas after getting certain parts (such as after getting the jet pack) can reveal many different secrets and easter eggs. In fact, this game is loaded with secrets and easter eggs, including a "hard mode" for players that wish an incredibly large challenge. At the time I'm writing this, I've attempted hard mode countless times already, and still have no luck.
One nitpick on gameplay is that cutscenes are not skippable. Usually this just means that being defeated by bosses means sitting through the cutscenes a second time through. More often than not, the cutscene would be viewed several million times. Another nitpick is that sometimes there isn't a save point near a boss. One instance of a particularly difficult boss required me to complete a difficult jump, and having to make that jump several hundred times because the boss was difficult was not at all cool.
A strong game, especially for a free game. Unlike Spore, my previous review, this game just isn't flawed. So there wouldn't be a "Killer 7" argument, but rather a "Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time" argument: you play it, or you're not a gamer at all.
As per to the's request: 10/10