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Cave Story

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Released: 2004

Genre: Platformer

Format reviewed: PC - Windows

Publisher: Pixel Studios

Developer: Daisuke Amaya

Submitted by: Ryan Lambie

Everyone has their own personal 'golden era' of gaming. For me, the years between the mid eighties and the early nineties are the prime source of my nostalgia. Games such as Castlevania or Megaman will always have a special place in my heart, regardless of how much I enjoy modern offerings like Gears of War or Super Mario Galaxy.

Which brings me on to Daisuke 'Pixel' Amaya's legendary Cave Story, or Doukutsu Monogatari as it's known in Japan. It may have only been programmed in 2004, but Cave Story is a retro platform game easily as good as the ones that clearly inspired it. Set on a faintly surreal (and inimitably Japanese) flying island, Cave Story's platform jumping, laser blasting action recalls the best of 8-bit and 16-bit games, and has more than a touch of Treasure's anarchic Gunstar Heroes in its most manic moments.

Produced over five years, Cave Story is clearly a labour of love; its pixel graphics are beautifully formed, and every element, character and platform works together perfectly to create a truly brilliant game, one that's as familiar and comforting as a Sunday roast.

With a WiiWare remake on the way, the PC original is an essential download if you haven't played it already – incredibly, it's free. A masterpiece.