Everyone these days seems to have a favorite game that they have somewhere, and usually they’ll list off many popular titles which are familiar to most. However, there’s a ton of hidden gems in the depths of the internet which are just as enjoyable as a AAA title and free to boot… if you’re willing to find them or get lucky doing so. I’m here to help with that, with a series of the best games I’ve found over years of scouring the internet.
Cave Story is a Metroidvania style platformer which took the developer, a man named Daisuke Amaya or more commonly known as “Pixel”, a solid 5 years developing every aspect to satisfaction. He worked on everything from the graphics to the music to make this masterpiece just so. The result was a game which ascended past standard freeware status as it received an updated version for Nintendo systems and the Steam platform.
As the name implies, the vast majority of the game occurs in an underground system, though Pixel has managed to create a variety of beautiful environments, yet they share an earthen color scheme to retain unity among them. For the few scenes where you’re above ground, it creates a feeling of (literal) fresh air after spending hours in confined space.
The music is entirely in chiptune, yet it always finds a way to fit the tone and stay fresh throughout each play through, as well as staying entertaining should you choose to replay the game.
The controls are a little floaty, but that’s perfect given the platforming aspect of the platforming aspect of the game, and that you’ll need aerial shots to fight many of the bosses.
The story begins with some information unrelated to the player, which then transfers over to the gameplay, where the player is an individual who wakes up with no knowledge of where they’re at, aside from being in a cave. This helps to give the player a minimum amount of sense of what’s happening without breaking the immersion of being the main character. The characters each have their own charm, and tend to be well developed. The main character’s story is slowly revealed in small chunks throughout the game, so it would be a spoiler to reveal too much about him, including his name.
Many current fans of the series love to speed run the game, as the design practically begs for the player to do so (There’s even a stopwatch item to use in a challenge level!). The length of the game is somewhat short, as the average playtime is less than 10 hours, though this doesn’t detract from the overall experience. The game has four separate endings, with events throughout the game which can alter it. Finally, the game has a plethora of secrets items and easter eggs throughout the levels.
This game is easy to play in chunks if you’re a busy individual, but the save system relies on save points, so be prepared for an undermined amount of time for each session if you’re on your first run. At the end of the day, that’s the beauty of a freeware game; you’re able to sit down and try it without any investment or commitment.
Cave Story Tribute Website (fan works, the game itself and a trove of other information here!)