Initially I had planned to divide this piece into three sections, dealing with each of the episodes of Crystal Caves, respectively. Instead, I decided to write more generally about the title as a whole.

In Crystal Caves, you are Mylo Steamwitz, a space trader looking to make a quick buck by digging for crystals in various alien-infested, dangerous rock mines. With these crystals, Mylo hopes to begin his own animal farm (no, not of the Orwellian persuasion - of Twibbles).

Mylo's mining adventure takes place in an underground area referred to as the 'Main Level,' housing sixteen independent caves from which he must excavate the crystals. Each cave is distinct from the rest.

Do you know what's great about old platform titles like Crystal Caves? they're just so simple. And simplicity can be fun.

Each two-dimensional level is a structured labyrinth of linear puzzles. Like a mathematical equation, there is an order of operations one must follow to reach the correct answer. However, Crystal Caves showcases only the simplest math.

Its gameplay is difficult at times. with only three health points allotted, and without the option of replenishing, you're lucky to get through a level unscathed the first time around.

To the modern gamer, Crystal Caves is incomparable to the games of today. Granted, it ought only be judged with other 2D platform games. However, with a shortage of such titles in the modern realm, looking into the past might be more telling (the last 2D platform title I could think of - technically speaking - was Donkey Country and the games that followed in the series).

Consider this: the same year Crystal Caves was released, Sid Meier's Civilization, Neverwinter Nights (the first ever graphical MMORPG), Sierra's Police Quest III as well as Space Quest IV:Roger Wilco and the Time Rippers were released. Also that year, Nintendo released its Super Nintendo Entertainment System, along with Super Mario World and F-Zero, Final Fantasy II (in actuality, the fourth game in the series) was released in America, and in Japan, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past was released.

Just looking at the slew of new technology at work in 1991 makes you wonder why you're still playing Crystal Caves. Its plot, gameplay, structure, and many of its technical features (such as its music, which is non-existent, and sound, which can be likened to listening to the squelchings of a monosynth) pale in comparison to every one of the aforementioned titles.

Crystal Caves is fun for awhile. In its own right, it possesses attractive elements that will probably keep some gamers coming back, however, not all gamers.

platform utilized: DOS
genre: platform, side-scrolling
where to find: Download here. Or if you're a mac user, email me and let me know you want a working copy of the game.

EGA Inferiority: Crystal Caves, 1991

Posted on

Aug 13, 2011

1 Comment