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Have You Played... Crystal Caves?

Mining the platformer since 1991

Shareware platformers defined my PC gaming as a kid. Yeah, a cheeky blast on Wolfenstein 3D was okay, but Commander Keen and Duke Nukem were an amazing discovery for a small person who’d been introduced to games through the NES. One of my all-time favourites is Apogee’s Crystal Caves, a gem of a platformer about an interstellar miner who goes space spelunking in search of alien crystals.

Crystal Caves has been decked out with HD graphics and extra goodies.

Mylo Steamwitz is the little bloke you bound around Crystal Caves’ three episodes as. He resembles a blond, chisel-jawed Mario in his purple dungarees. I sometimes wonder if anyone at Nintendo ever saw Crystal Caves before they made some of the later Wario Land games. Mylo has to contend with more expansive levels than Wario or Mario, though, and carries a pistol that fires rockets. Probably the best part of Crystal Caves’ platforming is its gravity system, which inverts what Mylo considers the floor and lets you jump – and fall – upside down.

This gravitational jiggery-pokery boggled my mind when I first played Crystal Caves. It made reaching every crystal to escape each level a much more interesting - and tricky - prospect than it would’ve been otherwise. It’s one of the main reasons I prefer the game to other platformers from around the same time, such as Epic Games’ Jill Of The Jungle or Vivid Image’s The First Samurai. I think the only thing I rated as highly back in the day was Titus The Fox, which released the following year and let you chuck enemies around.

You can still pick up the original Crystal Caves on Steam and GOG. There’s an HD version that came out in 2020 too, which did a pretty sweet job of overhauling the graphics to look how you remember them, instead of how they actually looked. Crystal Caves HD also manages to chuck in a new episode, enemies, and an online leaderboard, not to mention that it's still getting updates too.

About the Author
CJ Wheeler avatar

CJ Wheeler

News Reporter

CJ used to write about steam locomotives but now covers Steam instead. Likes visual novels, most things with dungeons and/or crawling, and any shooter with a suitably chunky shotgun. He’s from Yorkshire, which means he’s legally obliged to enjoy a cup of tea and a nice sit down.

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