Crystal Caves

aka: Crystal Mines
DOS Specs [ all ]
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Description official description

Mylo Steamwitz, an enterprising space trader, is always involved in one get-rich-quick scheme or another. Throughout the Crystal Caves trilogy he repeatedly sets out to the perilous mines of the Altairian system, hoping to collect enough crystals to start a profitable business. The shareware version only has the first episode available; the registered version consists of three installments, packed as separate executables.

Crystal Caves is a side-scrolling platform game, where the objective is to finish all levels, collecting every single crystal within. On his way, Mylo is threatened by numerous monsters, such as bats, robots, mine carts or dinosaurs; there are also a lot of hazards such as stalactites and stalagmites, pipes which leak harmful water or poisonous mushrooms which kill instantly. Mylo has three health points, and if he is harmed enough times to deplete them all, he dies (but thankfully he has unlimited lives). To defend himself, Mylo has a missile pistol, which is able to take out most enemies, but not all. Many levels require the player to act fast and plan beforehand, as it's easy to get Mylo stuck in an impossible-to-win situation - if this happens, the level must be restarted.

Apart from the crystals, the levels contain a lot of items to collect: ammunition for the pistol, bonus items such as pickaxes or purple mushrooms that give score, and eggs which turn into letters when shot - collecting all 5 letters (B, O, N, U, S) on a level gives a lot of points, but it's not always easy to get them! It's also possible to find a power-up that reverses gravity when picked up, another one which gives your pistol the power to kill every enemy, a stop sign which freezes all enemies and makes them harmless and a red mushroom which allows you to kill enemies by running into them. These power-ups last only for a limited time though, so be careful, as they are always instrumental to victory!

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Reviews

Critics

Average score: 78% (based on 2 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.4 out of 5 (based on 43 ratings with 5 reviews)

Great classic apogee game.

The Good
It takes skill and brains to beat this game. Lots of fun. Ok graphics. A lot of levels to enjoy.

The Bad
The sound wasn't too impressive. Some of the levels are similar.

The Bottom Line
Basic sidescroller in which you collect gems to open the door at the end of the level.

DOS · by Attila (553) · 2001

Arcade fun and lovable levels.

The Good
This game is really fun I love all the different aliens and all the tunnels to travel through in the planet. The fun just never ends when playing great Dos classics. I also love the graphics their quite colorful and they are perfect for all the mutants.

The Bad
What gets very annoying is that you can't stay alive very easily, and its very easy to get game over.

The Bottom Line
Never say Never, you can always try something and keep going even if its hard. Just like never give up work.

DOS · by Andrew Shepard (1389) · 2005

A great game with satisfying cinematics, great graphics and sound, and gameplay mechanics akin to Super Mario Bros. 3

The Good
Crystal Caves is one of the first EGA games developed by Frank Maddin an employee at Apogee who later worked on Monster Bash. You are Mylo Steamwitz, a space trader whose job is to scour the universe for treasures he can sell for a quick buck. Poor Mylo didn’t have much luck at this, having lost a fortune trying to sell Regulan Blood Stones to the inhabitants of Ghoulbone IV. He tries again by flying his Millennium Kiwi to the mines in the Altarian Star System, and sell whatever he can get his hands on at the Galactic Trading Post. As you will eventually see, any investments Mylo has in mind will be all for nothing.

It consists of three episodes: “The Trouble with Twibbles”, “Slugging it out”, and “Mylo vs. the Supernova”. Back in the day, episode one was free to download from a BBS and you could play it for free, and if you enjoyed it, you sent a small amount of money to Apogee to get the final two episodes and some extras. Each episode opens with an amusing introduction showing Mylo having a bit of trouble with the Kiwi, and has difficulty passing a planet with something orbiting around it. In the third episode, he blows a hole in the planet and passes through it.

You have to make your way down to the mines, passing the planet Mylo had to deal with as well as an erupting volcano. (I love watching Mylo skid his way around.) There are sixteen gray doors, and going through these lead you down into the actual caves. It basically works the same way as Super Mario Bros. 3, except you can’t re-enter a cave already completed. Once inside, the object is to get all the crystals, but you can also do other things such as opening treasure chests, collecting fruit, and gathering bonus items. Once all the crystals are collected, you can proceed to the exit so that you can go down into another cave.

Sound easy? You have to deal with several creatures, including two types of bats, snakes, robots, and green monsters. You can kill these enemies by shooting them with your gun, with the exception of the walking rocks, Most of these creatures have their own attacks. For example, the alien bats drop eggs down at you, and these eggs will hatch into baby alien bats. There are other hazards to watch out for, including water drips, laser beams, hammers, and stalagmites. Getting hit by any of these will cost you one of your three lives, and losing them all results in a nice animation of Mylo facing the screen. While he waves his arms, his headlight switches off and he collapses onto the floor.

Several power-ups can be collected to make your quest easier, but you can only use them for a limited time. Getting a gray “P” icon will allow you to kill enemies with a powerful shot, while “G” icons let you change the gravity, which is useful for getting crystals that are out of reach. In rare instances, collecting a huge stop sign freezes every living creature or hazard for a number of seconds, allowing you to pass them without being harmed.

Graphic-wise, I think they are fantastic for a 1991 game. The backdrops for each have interesting patterns and most of them stand out against the foreground. The illustrations that serve for both the main menu and ending sequence are well done. Sound-wise, the effects only comes through the PC Speaker, but this is understandable considering that a lot of small companies like Apogee couldn’t get access to sound cards.

The Bad
I can’t think of anything.

The Bottom Line
Crystal Caves is a great title that behaves like the third Mario game, so anybody who has played SMB3 will feel right at home here. Unlike Nintendo’s game where you just make a dash for the exit, you need to collect all the crystals before you can leave and you can’t re-enter caves. The graphics are gorgeous, the sound is great (even though it is through the PC Speaker only), and the ending cinematics are more than satisfying. Platform gamers like myself should give this one a try.

DOS · by Katakis | カタキス (43051) · 2022

[ View all 5 player reviews ]

Discussion

Subject By Date
Three games conflated into one entry! Havoc Crow (formerly JudgeDeadd) (28423) Jun 19th, 2009

Trivia

Engine

Crystal Caves uses the same game engine as another one of Apogee's games, Secret Agent.

Patch

October 24th, 2005, Apogee released patched v1.0a shareware versions (and patches for registered versions) of old play-alike games Crystal Caves and Secret Agent after discovering that quitting these games under some installs of Windows XP (an operating environment that wasn't a twinkle in Bill Gates' eye at the time of these games' release) in some cases set the system clock back a century!

Credit for the fix goes to Peter "DOSBox" Veenstra and Crystal Caves' original programmer Frank Maddin; as the press release likes to point out, patching these titles up to 14 years after their initial release "has to be some kind of record."

The patched shareware version of Crystal Cave can be downloaded at ftp://ftp.3drealms.com/share/1cc10a.zip ; the patch for registered versions can be downloaded at ftp://ftp.3drealms.com/patches/cc10apt.zip

References

  • The title of Part One of Crystal Caves, 'The Troubles with Twibbles is very much alike to an episode of Star Trek: The Original Series, which had an episode titled The Troubles with Tribbles. Scott Miller - the game designer - is said to be a fan of Star Trek.
  • There are numerous references to another Apogee platformer - Commander Keen, hidden in the game. Keen is listed on the default high score list, his famous helmet can be found many times throughout the game, and there is a mention about Yorp herding.

Shareware

Like most Apogee platformers Crystal Caves is actually a trilogy. The first part of the trilogy is shareware, the other two parts are not. The names of the three episodes are: 1. Vol 1:Troubles with Twibbles 2. Vol 2: Slugging it out 3. Vol 3: Milo versus the Supernova

Information also contributed by DreamWeaver, Roedie, Pseudo_Intellecual and SpikeNexus

Version Differences

In the original DOS version, the game's border will change color from red to green when all crystals have been collected and the level can be exited. This feature is not emulated in the DOSBox emulator (which the official releases for Windows, Mac and Linux use), thus the player has to rely on only a sound cue to mark this.

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Derrick 'Knight' Steele.

Macintosh, Windows, Linux added by lights out party.

Additional contributors: Frenkel, Georges N., Martin Smith, lights out party, Patrick Bregger.

Game added March 3rd, 2000. Last modified September 9th, 2023.