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Avatar ImageGamer Limit Review: Cave Story
By: | July 17th, 2009 | PC
PC |Review


Whenever we receive something for free, we are getting something for little to no sacrifice. Since we don’t have to give anything up for it, besides our time, I usually anticipate that the amount of quality will fall somewhere in the same range as the price. Well, we may be late to the party, but Cave Story is here to prove me wrong.

Considered one of, if not the greatest indie game of all time, Cave Story was released in 2004 and was the brain child of one, Daisuke Amaya. It’s a 2-D action adventure that feels and plays a lot like the “metroidvanias.” Players run, jump, and shoot their way through different zones in the battle to save the mimagas.

This is a freeware title that has some of the highest production values in every area. The game looks like the product of 8 and 16 bit parents, but the pixels and artistic style work together to create a game that looks unique in an age old style. The sound, as well, takes older methods and weaves them together to enhance the playing experience, instead of mere background music.


The gameplay, like the music and graphics, is simple and highly rewarding. Combining both platforming and shooting, players explore the world while collecting items and weapons as they battle against the doctor. The weapon selection is eclectic, and there is even an element of strategy in determining which weapons to use in a given situation. Once you decide which weapon to use you can level that weapon up by gathering energy from fallen foes.

Each weapon can be upgraded twice which increases firing power or rate of fire. However, everytime you are hit by another enemy you lose some of the energy gathered in your equipped weapon. It promotes playing it safe during normal encounters and it makes the already tough boss battles, even tougher.

The game is surprisingly long and the story is something you would expect of a high end downloadable title or a retail title. Most freeware titles are either really short or have no definitive ending. Cave Story not only has a long adventure, but it has multiple endings and it’s engrossing enough that you care about what happens to the mimagas and is a great motivator to keep playing the game. While exploring there is a bit of back tracking that you have to do, but nothing that hampers the experience.


As I look up at the above paragrahs, I notice almost zero negativity, and honestly, I have nothing negative to say about the game.  I could hop onto the nitpick train, I could say it’s graphics and sound are dated, it’s not long enough or that it’s too hard in certain situations. Yet, these negatives work in favor of the game, rather than hurt it. Aren’t we tired of the unreal engine, games handing us the ending, or something that is too long that you can’t finish? Everything in this fantastic freeware title works together to create an imaginative and rewarding experience that you rarely see in video game, freeware or retail.

Cave Story is the proverbial “diamond in the rough.” It’s a free game that has more action, challenge, and charm than a lot of the titles sitting on our store shelves. When compared to any of the other games on the market, I feel that it deserves the same recognition as Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, two titles that garner perfect ratings. It’s a testament to aspiring developers that if you have the time, resolve, heart, and a little bit of talent…you can make a game that will stand the test of time.

Rating Category
9.0 Presentation
A whimsical artistic style oozing with charm and heart that only enhances the graphics, gameplay, and musical score.
How does our scoring system work?
10 Gameplay
The “metroidvania” gameplay, coupled with variety and challenge, is as close to perfect as you can get.
9.5 Sound
An excellent array of 8 and 16 bit sound styles that fit perfectly with the artistic design will have you turning your speakers up.
10 Longevity
There is plenty of replay value with multiple endings to a game that isn’t too long and isn’t too short.
10 Overall
Cave Story is a title that combines simple gameplay, charming graphics, high replay value, and excellent presentation into a magnificent gaming package. Did I mention it was free?

  1. Wow, A an overall 10. We don’t give those out too often. This must be definitely worth it.

  2. Yowza!!! A Ten, it must be good.

  3. I’d say it’s the best freeware game ever made. It was so good that it’s currently being remade for WiiWare.

    • avatar anonymous

      And, two years later, it’s being made for the Nintendo 3DS/DSi in 3D

    • avatar Rizal

      This is receiving a ltlite more subjective,but I a lot choose the Zune Marketplace. The interface is colorful,has more flair,and some cool options like ‘Mixview’ that let you shortly look related albums, songs,or other users connected to what you’re listening to.Clicking on one of those will heart on that item,and one more set of “neighbors” will come into view,allowing you to navigate round exploring by similar artists, songs, or users.Talking of users,the Zune “Social” can also be great fun,letting you find others with shared tastes and changing into company with them.You then can listen to a playlist created in line with an amalgamation of what your whole buddies are listening to,which can be pleasant.Those interested by privacy will probably be relieved to know that you can stop the general public from seeing your personal listening habits in case you so choose.

  4. It really is a fantastic freeware title. I’m always critical of perfect scores but it does reflect the sheer amount of effort put into this title.

  5. Having finished the game about ten minutes ago…I have to say the only thing I could dislike about the game is that it rode the easy mode train straight through the game. But, damn, this is a good game. VERY good game.

  6. After reading your review, I decided to give it a shot. So far I’m having fun, but nothing angers me more than a combination of the words “LEVEL” and “DOWN”.

  7. @Jamie

    Really? Man, perhaps my video game skills are failing me because I thought it was, overall, a pretty challenging game.

  8. @Chase
    I think it was one of the easiest platforming games I’ve ever played. You can just use the standard gun, then later, the jetpack-machine gun and own everything. Despite this, I believe this adds to the allure of the game, because it’s a freeware title that can be easily completed, leaving no excuse not to play it. Anthony of Destructoid noted it was challenging as well: different strokes.

    I will say the last boss gauntlet was very, very hard, however, especially if you didn’t save your health pack.

  9. Heh, I forgot all about the Health Pack until now, lol. I later found out that you could get up to 50 HP, too – I had 35 HP at the end of the game.

    Chase: It definitely got to a decent difficulty level later. I think, however arrogantly, that I’m pretty good at platform shooters, so my opinion is likely skewed. Still, like Chris said, it’s really not a detractor; in fact, since the game encourages exploration, it would probably be worse if it were too difficult.

  10. avatar kira

    This game is a 10 for me,to! I am in love with it! adicting!

  11. avatar Ross

    I’m surprised you guys thought it was easy. I’ve been getting worked over in the second egg corridor section. I have 36 hit points, the machine gun, and the booster 2.0 and still can’t seem to get past the “optional” boss in the middle of the level. I haven’t played many side-scrollers since the Sega Genesis days (except Braid and Limbo).

    Great game so far though. Unbelievable that it’s free. I’d never even thought about the possibility of multiple endings in a side-scroller until I played this game.

  12. avatar bom


    If you get the proper ending or try to you’d see how this game is nearly impossible to beat…. so dang hard.

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