Game Info:

Cosmic Cavern 3671
Game Title: Cosmic Cavern 3671
Developed By: Mindware Co.,Ltd.
Published By: Mindware Co.,Ltd.
Released: July 14, 2016 (original release: July 1980)
Available On: Windows
Genre: Arcade, Action, Strategy
ESRB Rating: none
Number of Players: Single player and two player
Price: $4.99

[This game was reviewed after the September 20, 2016, Ver2.0 update.]

Thank you Mindware Co.,Ltd. for sending us your game.

Ahh, the eighties. That good old decade when life was simpler, neighborhoods were safer, and arcade games only swallowed one quarter at a time from your pocket. Granted, I was born in the nineties, so I’m only able to imagine what that era was like. Still, regardless whether you lived back then or not, those years left strong impressions that echo today. Respected classics like Tetris, Centipede, Pac-Man, and Donkey Kong survived time and avoided obscurity thanks to their makers. Developers had no crisp graphics or grand musical scores to fall back on. They had to succeed by inventive gameplay and gameplay alone. Cosmic Cavern made its debut alongside these classics in 1980. It might not be nearly as famous as the others, but that does not mean it couldn’t be a forgotten gem in its own right. To make its return more special, respected talents such as artist Hiroshi “Mr. Dotman” Ono and composer Yuzo Koshiro worked to recapture the original experience’s magic with a little extra polish on the side.

Cosmic Cavern 3671 is as classic as arcade games come. The music, the art style; it’s a nostalgia fest. Upon startup, the game flashes a quick control schematic before displaying the main menu, and true to fashion, a demo will play if the game is left to itself. You can choose between single player mode or two player mode. As expected by eighties’ standards, success is tied to scores. Rack up the points for as long as you can survive. Now, if you wanted me to explain the game’s story, I’d be as stumped as you, but arcade games never needed solid setups to begin with anyway. However, what I did theorize is that you’re this space digger guy who is protecting his home base from little alien creatures. Well, I assume they’re aliens, anyway. I mean, when some creatures are either pink, Muppet-like blobs or walking goofy goggles, what would you think they were?

Cosmic Cavern 3671

Strong Points: Solid Gameplay, Great Visual Options
Weak Points: Inconvenient Controls, Unexplained Multiplayer
Moral Warnings: None

Your controls are few and direct. The arrow keys move you around. ‘Z’ will plant a defensive mine to your left. ‘X’ will plant one to your right. You dig automatically just by running over the yellow dirt blocks, but you can also walk about without digging by holding ‘Shift’. If your enemies are running too sluggishly for you or you’re waiting for a specific moment, the ‘C’ key will fast forward gameplay for as long as it’s pressed. Now, this type of control scheme is all well and good. It hearkens to simplistic 80’s styled gaming, so there’s not much ‘bad’ to rant about. However, I would have liked ‘Z’ and ‘X’ to be further apart. Those keys were so close together and acted so similarly that I kept messing up my mine placement. It cost me my life a few times, but there is an even bigger crime in the control schemes. There are no button guides for multiplayer play. I’m serious. I searched high and low, in-game and out, but I could not get instructions on how to control player two. So much for monster fighting with my sisters.

Digging up dirt will grant you points. More upturned soil means a higher score, but digging pits willy-nilly limits your ultimate score in the long run. At a certain phase, you get to paint outlines around the dirt blocks you left behind. Once you outline a section of dirt, it will change color, becoming worth double the points. Keep that in mind, especially when you dig your first tunnels. The second way to gain points is to farm your enemies. However, touching active enemies is an instant ‘Game Over’. Same goes for letting them reach your base (another reason why you don’t dig paths carelessly). However, if you can get them to fall down pits or stun them with your mines, the little weirdos will be knocked out for a bit. It’s a temporary nap, but if you’re quick; they snooze, they lose. Also you don’t have to worry about using up your mines. If your pockets run out your base has an endless supply ready for you to pick up at any point. What this gameplay does is encourage you to concentrate equally on survival and future gain. Sure you can cut off every path the little creepers have by digging haphazardly, but then you lose potential in your final score for the later phases. It gets you to form strategic patterns that’ll trip the little suckers up and provide you with points to reap later on.

Upon first impression, Cosmic Cavern 3671’s gameplay doesn’t sound all that complicated. It sounds like you only need to trap the monsters then do whatever you want. Easy. However, this game has its ways of assisting or ruining your plans. There are two hidden items in the soil: a heart and a diamond. Both can be activated at any point after they’re found. The diamond doubles your current score, so you wouldn’t want to use that right away. However, the heart is trickier because it re-fills already dug up dirt at random. This could disrupt your booby traps, or it could block off paths that left your base exposed. Either way, the heart is a safeguard at best or a minor inconvenience at worst. The only actual upheaval is whenever the monsters decide to go nuts. Once in a while, the enemies will be rage-stomping furious. Their populace then booms. They’ll run twice as fast and can break through solid soil. It’s intimidating to be sure, but if you play your strategies right it’s possible to survive and rack your score even higher. It just can catch you off guard if you’re not thinking about it.

Cosmic Cavern 3671
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 86%
Gameplay - 17/20
Graphics - 10/10
Sound - 8/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 3/5

Morality Score - 98%
Violence - 9/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

For presentation, Cosmic Cavern 3671 obviously won’t measure up to modern standards of realism, but that would be horrendously unfair to judge visuals based solely on that. So how does this reboot stack up? Quite well. Its details aren’t quite as memorable as Donkey Kong’s, but it’s far more colorful. The newer creature designs are oddly cute and distinct. Plus, the painting mechanic adds extra vibrancy, but if that weren’t enough, the people who restored this game rolled out the red carpet. They allow gamers the option to play the game in its original format, both in traditional black and white or in color. That, I must say, was a very nice treat. I imagine anyone who grew up with this game would be very pleased. One complaint I do have, though, involves the sound effects. They were just obnoxiously loud. Even with both my speakers and headphones volumes set to low, I got startled out of my seat on multiple occasions whenever I started the game. I’m not a fan of cheap shot jump-scares, Mindware. I’d appreciate not having those, thank you very much. However, I do once more applaud those digital artists. They rose above the call of duty to give Cosmic Cavern 3671 both a creative makeover and historical respect.

Only someone who’s really anti-videogame will have a moral qualm with Cosmic Cavern 3671. Enemies you ‘kill’ (if you can even call it that) just ‘boop’ out of existence like cherries in Pac-Man. If you die in the game’s default mode, a ‘Game Over’ screen flashes then asks if you want to play again. The original format’s death animation is a little different. It used computer symbols and numbers to portray a monster’s mouth, but last I checked, the only time any kid was afraid of numbers was on math exams. Beyond that, there are no other extra features to corrupt in Cosmic Cavern 3671. That’s something worth smiling about indeed.

In this culture of up-to-date attitudes and rampant revamps, this re-release of Cosmic Cavern 3671 is a heartwarming testament of the tried and true. That being said, I know that eighties games aren’t something some audiences stampede for. Goes to show how spoiled we’ve become by these cutting edge visuals, cinematic spectacles, and more data content than we’d ever need. I’ll even admit that Cosmic Cavern 3671 doesn’t personally thrill me, but I’d be an ignorant fool to deny that it was games like these that first shaped the innovative industry we enjoy today. Actually, this “simple” game’s gameplay is anything but. It’s concept is easy to grasp, but to play it well is deceptively tricky - even if the multiplayer feature eluded me completely. Single player fans of the eighties, straightforward challenges, or historical gems will love this unearthed piece. The developers knew Cosmic Cavern 3671 didn’t need to have the latest and greatest bells and whistles to be good. It already was good.

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Cheryl Gress

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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