Have you ever gone back to play an old Nintendo, Sega Genesis, or Super Nintendo game that you used to love, only to find that it didn't play quite like you remember it playing? It's as if your mind only stores the good elements of the games you've played in the past, and revisiting them uncovers flaws you might not have seen back when you first plugged in the cartridge and took game pad in hand.
It's like you have two games: the actual game, with all its flaws, and the ideal game, molded into near perfection by your imperfect memory. For Kotaku, Cave Story is that ideal game. It isn't simply reminiscent of the games they used to play; it's what they remember them to be.