I’m a 90’s baby. I was born before the new millennium and started gaming with the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. As time went on, 32-bit became 64-bit, that became the relatively high-end consoles and pc’s that we see today.
Games have become more and more complex. RPGs like the original Final Fantasies slowly became complex 3D experiences like Skyrim, platformers like Super Mario Brothers evolved into things like Super Mario Galaxies, and shooters like Contra and Metriod have devolved into things like Call of Duty.
Even though there are more and more complex and photorealistic games, that doesn’t mean that they’re good games. This also doesn’t mean that games with more primitive graphics are bad. Games that are truly good remain good regardless of the graphics, and games that are bad, still seem to somehow sell… very strange.
Recently, I have been playing a relatively simple and low-def game by the name of Cave Story+. The game, especially notable for being part of the Humble Bundle 4, is a delightful and energetic game with it’s biggest callbacks to Contra and Metriod. In short, it’s a beautifully simple and extremely fun.
The premise of the game is that you are a robot soldier waking up in a cave with essentially no memory of what had previously transpired. Your first job is to find a weapon so you can further explore the area, and after jumping and pausing to avoid damage from bats, spikes and small gelatinous rabbit-like creatures that will do their best to jump up and smash you into the ground. After acquiring your first weapon, a small blue pistol that fire a single close-range shot. As you progress, you meet the Mimiga, the local rabbit-like inhabitants of what you learn is a floating island. The mimiga have a secret though, their main diet is flower, but one particular type turns them into large fearsome monsters and mostly destroys their sanity.
The main villian is “The Doctor”, a man shrouded in mystery essentially until the end of the game.
Killing creatures can provide you with life, ammo (only used for the rocket launcher) and small golden triangles that power up your various weapons the more you collect while holding the weapon you want to power up. Taking damage causes you to lose power in your weapons in addition to loosing health. Each weapon can reach a max level of 3 at which point they’re both their most useful, most powerful and most fragile, meaning that they will also loose the most points when you take damage, but having level 3 weapons generally have special powers and perks that are generally extremely helpful in your quest to save the island.
The saves at times can be a little frustrating especially for less experienced players, requiring you to go through the lead-up and the whole boss fights upon death if a save wasn’t made. At times hit-boxes can be a little strange and down-leveling with damage can get a little old when you just want to mow your way through larger groups of enemies. The platforming itself can be somewhat troublesome and for the best possible experience a game pad is ideal, although keyboard works perfectly fine as well. Although at times it can be frustrating, it doesn’t at all reach the frustration caused by games like Super Meat Boy or Trials HD.
The game on the whole is wonderful and wonderfully crafted, bringing back the side-scrolling shooter/platformer with a grace and ingenuity rarely found these days. The saves are well placed at points that are natural and allow for almost a check-point-like experience. The spacing can be a little frustrating in that both the platforming and the shooting are both intuitive and challenging at the same time. Although there isn’t any voice acting, being a 32-bit-esque game, the dialogue is well written and charming.
Over all, I have to give this game a glowing recommendation to anyone that is a fan of or would like to try a game similar to Contra or the 2D Metriods. If I were to give it a rating, I would have to give it a solid 9/10 for its solid gameplay, bright and perky visuals and for making me feel great nostalgia for my childhood.
Some nay-sayers will complain that the graphics are too primitive to make the game enjoyable and that the only way to ever play games is with hyper-realistic graphics, and that any resolution below 720p isn’t worthy of your eyes. Well guess what, less can be more. Instead of going off and wasting $50 on the latest annual CoD map-pack, buy a Humble Bundle, or even just some of the best indie games, because then you’ll be supporting people that are still extremely passionate and excited about providing new and exciting game experiences and (should you purchase your games via the Humble Bundle) contribute to social causes.
Even it you don’t usually like more classic styles of gaming such as the 2D platformer, shooter or RPG, at least give one a try, you might surprise yourself and actually like it.