Home > Action, Xbox Indie > Cosmic Caverns [REVIEW]

Cosmic Caverns [REVIEW]

Cosmic Caverns: released April 29th, 2011
Developer: Maximinus
Platforms: Xbox Live Indie Game Marketplace

When I was a kid, there was a game on the NES that I absolutely had a blast playing. I usually had to play using the assistance of a Game Genie of course, being as I was pretty young, but damn if I didn’t still love every second of my time with Solar Jetman. You piloted a space ship around various alien locales, navigating caverns and obstacles, retrieving items that then needed to be brought back to your base ship, and generally just tried your damnedest to survive the trip. And that’s all well and good, but what made it unique was the control scheme. Instead of using the usual left goes left, up goes up, etc. style control setup, Solar Jetman used one button as your ships thrust, and then left and right on the D-Pad were used to tilt the ship one way or another. Need to move right? Tilt the ship right and hit thrust. Going up? Make sure you’re totally vertical and hit your thrusters. But what’s this!? You’re about to crash in to the ceiling! Quick, rotate the ship 180 degrees and hit the thrusters full blast! It was a totally unique experience to me, and despite all my years of gaming since then, despite the literally hundreds of titles I’ve played since my golden years with the NES, I have still never really encountered any other games that played like Solar Jetman. That being said, I’m sure most of you have connected the dots and guessed that, “Hey! I’ll bet the game he’s reviewing right now is actually quite similar to this Solar Jetman thing he keeps mentioning!” And ya know what dear reader? You are quite right.

Cosmic Caverns is a game where you control a space ship and you must navigate various caverns, most of which I’m assuming are of the cosmic variety. The game handles just like the previously mentioned Solar Jetman. You must rotate your ship and then hit the thrusters to move in whatever direction the ship is facing. It adds a whole other layer of complexity to navigating these levels and it’s tons of fun to do so. Traveling through narrow tunnels becomes something of an ordeal in Cosmic Caverns since, if you hit the thrust too hard, you ram in to the ceiling, and if you start moving too fast you’ll need to rotate and thrust the ship in the opposite direction to slow your momentum. The unique control style present in this game is what makes it so exceptional and interesting to play.

 

Unlike Solar Jetman, Cosmic Caverns isn’t really about going out and retrieving supplies of any kind. Instead you’ll be thrusting your way through each level intent only on making it through to the end. Each level has some kind of a warp gate that you must reach that acts as the finish line. As the game progresses it’ll become more and more difficult to reach these warp gates as they’ll require you to hit various switches sprawled throughout each of the levels in order to unlock them. On top of that, you’ll also need to dodge rockets, lasers, and mines while simultaneously navigating narrow, twisting caverns. As you can imagine, all these things combined add up to a trip through space that’s a little less accommodating than one might hope.

The game starts out feeling pretty easy. As I blew through the first half of the game, I lamented the fact that it seemed like I’d be able to beat this wonderful little gem in less than an hour. Thankfully (I think), this was not meant to be, as the game quickly begins to ramp up the difficulty. It’s been awhile since a game has made me feel genuine frustration and rage towards all living beings that have ever existed, ever, but when I encountered my first lock-on laser, that was exactly how I felt. And you will feel my pain too if you decide to check this game out. Trust me, you’ll know it when you get to it. Four rooms, one laser, endless rage. It’s hard to miss.

Another notable aspect of this game is the music. I believe it’s just the one song, but it’s a hell of a song to include, and it fits remarkably well. It’s a classic orchestral piece, though I’m unsure of its title. I won’t pretend to be some kind of classical music buff because I’m not, but the trailer for the game will be included at the end of this review and the song is featured there as well. It’s definitely an interesting choice for the sound and it does a damn good job of setting the mood.

Despite the eventual spike in difficulty, an experienced gamer will have Cosmic Caverns licked in no time flat. It takes a bit of practice, but once you get the hang of a level, so long as you’re determined to see it through, the levels themselves aren’t terribly long, and there are only 22 of them. Unlike some of the other indie games I’ve reviewed lately, Cosmic Caverns does not include anything such as bonus features or extra modes. Once you complete the main game, that’s all she wrote. Not that that’s any kind of a problem since the game is only $1, but the length of the title is definitely worth noting.

My recommendation is to watch the trailer and see if it looks like something that would interest you. Myself, I absolutely love this style of game. It’s unique and just operating the ship provides a great deal of entertainment for me, though I could definitely see some less experienced gamers getting horribly frustrated by it. If you’re not sure but think it still looks interesting, just try it. It’s a small download and as with any indie game on XBL it has a trial version for you to check out.

Cosmic Caverns is only $1 on the XBLIG Marketplace and it rocks! Check it out!

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