From The Game-Maker Archive
Caves is one gory game. It starts with the injuries and deaths -- explosions of crimson, and pieces of bone. Then you notice the severed limbs, and the hanging corpses. You see the pools of blood, and the geysers shooting from freshly opened throats. In later levels the Grim Reaper greets you to a cemetery where hands grasp from beneath the earth and severed legs try to run you over. You'll see crawling torsos, bloody pit traps, occult symbolism, overflowing toilets, walking turds, war atrocities, and drunken brawls -- all on a long journey to see Ozzy Osbourne in concert.
Aha. It all comes together now, doesn't it?
Despite some bizarre control mapping, Caves has a distinct charm. The design is a sort of corridor-runner, reminiscent of Baxter vs. the Brain Snatching Aliens, meaning that aside from running, climbing, and shooting -- all of which are mapped sensibly -- the controls are largely superfluous anyway. Indeed there are plenty of superfluous controls. Beyond the jumping and rolling, the character -- a sort of Gollum-like creature -- can head-bang in two directions, stick out his tongue, and charge his body with electricity.
Seek out the most dramatic-looking room in the caves to continue -- be it an impromptu rock concert or a large man in a flight suit, beckoning you toward his jet. Collect beating hearts to add to your hit points. Shoot enemies; avoid long vertical drops, which tend to be pit traps.
Sure, the game is tasteless -- but it's also vibrant and bold. The design is a little unusual, and it's implemented pretty well. The levels are all different, and absolutely littered with detail, to the extent that it always feels like there's more to find. The character is well-animated. The monsters are varied and often imaginative. Caves is just a strange, spirited game -- and for that, it's worth an eyeball or two.
11 Years later and I'm writing a new introduction to Caves. This game was always a source of pride and jealousy for me. You see, my younger brother, Stefan Meisse, made this game. While I was slaving away on my (imagined) epic Cyborg Empire Stefan was pumping out crazy levels and amazing animations.
Cyborg Empire was lost but somehow Caves has always survived. Stefan went on to become a successful tattoo artist and has just opened up his own tattoo shop, Crawling Panther Tattoo. I eventually became an environment artist, working on the MMO Warhammer Online. I've included my original introduction text written in 1999.
- Justin Meisse
- Left = Left arrow
- Right = Right arrow
- Climb Up = Up arrow
- Climb Down = Down arrow
- Jump right = F
- Jump left = Q
- Electro (?) = E
- Head bang = G and H
- Shoot = Spacebar (note: shoots in the direction you last moved)
Hi, this is Justin Meisse, the bassist to the Garage Rats. Every work of art needs a forward by someone in the biz. Since we couldn't find anyone, I was chosen. It is rare indeed to come across a jewel like Stefan Meisse's 1994 classic, Caves. No game has found an appropriate use of the phrase "King Crap", or the menace of a killer pickle monster until the release of Caves. The gaming industry was rocked, Stefan bought a Ferrari, and all was quiet.
All good things are imitated, and Caves was no exception. Many spin-offs appeared in the next 5 years: Doom, Quake, Unreal, the Final Fantasy series, and the Batman movies. 5 years later, this classic is re-released for the public to witness the roots of all video games. Enjoy!
- -Justin Meisse
 Archive History
In June 2010, while researching for an ongoing series of articles for an indie game site, a comment about Game-Maker by Justin Meisse turned up on a Web forum. On June 7th, Meisse responded to a query with a link to a copy of Caves. On receipt, the game was added to the archive.