Wednesday, October 10, 2012


So, I have a confession to make. It’s about the game Spelunky, which I absolutely love. I first played it way back in 2009, when the developer, Derek Yu, was posting messages about it on the forums for TIGSource. He was asking for feedback for the game from the community. I fell in love the first time I played it. Then, on July 4th of 2012, an enhanced version of the game was released on the XBLA. I downloaded and relived my glory days of the game when I played it on the PC.

                But there’s one huge problem. I suck at this game. So much. But I keep playing it because I still love the game, no matter how hard it is or how much I suck.
See that explosion? It's one of many things that will end your life. So will that bat. That crate may have a live bomb in it! Also, sometimes the gold is actually a monster. Just kidding! Or am I?

                First of all, the game is set in a mine dungeon that is randomly generated every time you play. It plays a lot like Super Mario Brothers. You can run, jump, attack with your whip, throw some bombs, and deploy a rope. The game is split up into different areas, which each have four levels. So think of it like this. Area 1 has four levels, the mine shaft section. Area 2 has four levels, the jungle… mine… shaft. I wish I could tell you what’s beyond that.

                Another aspect of this game is that you collect treasure to amass money, which you can use in stores to buy items. You can also find items in treasure chests and crates, or by sacrificing the girl (Or dog or body builder) to Khali. That’s right, most levels have a person you can save, who will give you an extra life if you bring them to the exit, after you beat the stage. I prefer saving the pug, and I always feel bad when I accidentally get him killed, which happens a lot.
This is a picture of someone who is about to sacrifice a woman to their dark god in exchange for an item. If that worked in real life, I would lose everyone I love.

There are only so many items in the game but they’re randomly generated as to which ones you’ll find in the store or in chest and crates. Almost all the items are pretty straight forward. There’s spring boots that make you jump higher. Spike shoes that do more damage when you jump on an enemy. A shotgun. Glue to make your bombs sticky, and so on.
This is a picture of the in-game manual. It will not kill you, but it does feature colorful pictures of all the things that, at some point, will end your life. Oh skeleton. I'm so glad you make me afraid to approach skulls.

                There’s also several different enemy types. Bats, skeletons, snakes, acid spitting snakes, spiders, giant spiders, cave men, evil plants, and exploding frogs to name a few.  The enemies all have specific attack patterns, which are easy to recognize and learn. There are also environmental hazards, like arrow traps, spike traps, bomb crates, long drops that cause damage, spider webs.

                So you’re essentially running through a randomly generated dungeon, collecting items and treasure while saving puppies, all while trying to avoid so many monsters and traps. If you spend too much time in anyone level a giant ghost will chase and murder you. It can get very frantic and chaotic, and the game requires you to be careful and fast at the same time. Sometimes you get lucky and find lots of money, or just a lot of items. I consider the best set up to be lots of sticky bombs, the shotgun, the jetpack, the spring boots, and the climbing glove. You have massive amounts of mobility and it should make the game easy. Right?

                WRONG. This game is never easy. NEVER.  The shotgun should be a weapon of mass destruction, and it is. But it has a substantial kick back. Don’t fire it by cliffs. You’ll fall and possibly die, or into some spikes. And die. Or, because the bullets fly across the level, sometimes there’s a shop keeper on the other side, who will freak out if you hit him and make it his life mission to kill you. The jetpack is great, but it’s a bit hard to control. I often times fly into enemies. Or spikes. And die. Sometimes you just don’t notice the arrow trap on the other side of the level, so I’m running along and then get shot right in the face.

                Or, there was the time an arrow trap was positioned right in front of the door of the shop. Some monster just happened to be in front of the arrow trap, which set it off and caused the arrow to hit the shopkeeper. Who decided this was MY fault, even though I just started the level at the top of the map, and he was at the bottom. ARGH.

I'd like to show you levels beyond Area 2, but I can't even get to them.

                The only downside of this game is that it has local co-op. I’d prefer online. But I played this co-op and it was even more chaotic and difficult. So maybe that’s a good thing, but I would prefer to suffer through this with my friends who are too far away to play with locally.

                Otherwise, I highly recommend this game if you’d like to try out a fast pace action rogue-like-esque game with a high level of difficulty. If you’re okay with feeling frustrated, and like to practice a game until you get better, you will enjoy this game. If you like an old school experience with the old school difficulty, you will like this game.

                If you already have it, how far can you get? Are you stubborn like me and refuse to use the level short cuts? Got any hilarious death stories to share? Leave a comment and let me know!

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