Remember Billy Blaze? Also known as Commander Keen, he is fondly remembered for his action platforming exploits in the early nineties. The Commander Keen games were in many ways leading the way in the pre-Doom shareware era and are still fondly remembered by many players. 25 years later, along comes a little series called Cally’s Caves. 12-year-old me would have played the hell out of its latest chapter, Cally’s Caves 4.
37-year-old me is pretty excited about this trip down nostalgia lane, too. While the focus is clearly on the action in this action platformer, you still, run, jump, and shoot your way through literally hundreds of small levels inhabited by weirdly mundane enemies such as mad soccer players and knife-throwing cooks.
The levels feel somewhat samey, but they’re short enough for you not to get bored. Besides, they give you ample opportunity to unload your whole arsenal on those baddies, which is rather satisfying. Weapons get stronger the more you use them and even evolve into much better weapons every few levels. This feels oddly compelling and drives you ever forward towards the simple, yet entertaining boss fights.
In general, “simple, yet entertaining” seems to be the series’ premise. While the production values are not always up to what you might call modern standards, these games make the best of it and even turn this apparent weakness into an advantage. I mean come on, those goofy jumping sounds are so 90s, it’s simply adorable! If you fondly remember the old shareware days, Cally’s Caves 4 is definitely worth your time.
You can purchase Cally’s Caves 4 from Steam for $9.99 – or download the iOS or Android versions for free. For more information, visit the game’s website and follow developers OHKO and Jordan Pearson on Twitter.