It's that darling of the PC indie scene! A game that's constantly in danger of being overhyped, but one that genuinely justifies the praise it gets. If this were released on the Super Nintendo people would have happily paid full price for it, and it would stand alongside the machine's other classic platformers. The fact that it's a free game created solely by one guy really gives hope to the oldschool fans - that one guy with enough talent and vision can create something great and get it out there for people to enjoy.
Cave Story takes its basic template from the Metroid games. A large gameworld that opens up to the player as they progress and gain abilities. There's not so much emphasis on backtracking though, it's more of a straightforward progression with a few sidequests here and there. Control of the main character has a superb weight, and different weapons can be cycled through easily for different situations.
There's a basic RPG element in terms of powering up your weapons, finding new equipment and increasing your life meter, and there are some clever uses of your equipment to overcome obstacles (firing downwards with the fully powered-up basic gun will thrust you into the air, jetpac-style). As you take hits though your weapons can lose power, but luckily energy crystals dropped by defeated enemies are plentiful. You'll need those weapons powered up, too, for some furious boss battles.
The visuals are pure pixellated beauty, superbly animated and full of character. The soundtrack is a little on the strange side but contains some wonderful tunes, and overall it fits the atmosphere of the game perfectly. On top of that the story is intriguing and charming. Really, what more could you want from a platform adventure?