I’m here to tell you how awesome Spelunky is.

Alright so I haven’t posted since the beginning of the month and I don’t even have an excuse this time. I was lazy. In the last couple days I’ve been playing a free little game from Derek Yu that has compelled me to post though.

It’s called “Spelunky”. This game has been out for several months now and it’s gotten quite a positive critical response, so perhaps I’m a little late to this party, but it’s due out on the XBLA some time in 2010, so at least I’m ahead of those Microsoft loving plebs.

In the game, you play as a little Indiana Jones style explorer and you need to explore these pseudo randomly generated levels in order to get money and plow through to the bottom of the cave. Apparently the game was made with classics like rogue and nethack in mind, meaning it has an initially simple premise and presentation, but it’s complex and rewarding over time.

What’s so awesome about it?

There is a legitimate sense of adventure. The game gives a quick little tutorial if you want it, but it doesn’t tell you anywhere near everything you need to know to survive. You will learn about the game world as you go, and you will enjoy doing it. Maybe you thought every little pile of bones you walked by was purely decorative until one of them jumped up and attacked you. Maybe you thought you could jump on one of those Audrey II style flowering plants. Maybe level 3 had always been lit, until this time, where you need to play though it in the dark! The game does have a limited number of tricks to throw at you, but for the first many plays, it will be a joy to discover them.

It’s not a completely masochistic game though, in case you’re thinking it is the challenge gamer in me doing all the recommending here. You’ll fail ALOT on your way to the bottom, but you’ll learn as you go… and it will never feel truly unfair. The game teaches you to be careful, to learn from your mistakes, and to be methodical.

When you do die (and you will), there is no recovery. You die and the game is over, regardless of how much wealth you built up on your way through the levels. Some things take hit points from you, but some hazards kill you instantly. This makes the game truly tense when you’re down to your last hit, or when you’re dodging monkeys over a spike pit.

I won’t say the game is “infinitely replayable”, because it’s not. The game is hugely replayable though. It will be a long time before you exhaust every possibility and learns everything there is to learn about Spelunky. Even when you do, perhaps you’ll want to play through and try to get the maximum possible amount of money. Perhaps you’ll wanna get through without killing anything, or trying any number of different challenges. I made fun of this kind of gaming when I ripped apart FFVII, but with this game it is particularly encouraged, plus the game is short enough to allow for it without needing you to be a complete lunatic.

Mac users, this game is worth dual booting to play (although I run it in VMware fusion, just to let Windows know it’s subordinated). If you’re running windows and you haven’t played Spelunky yet… give it a shot!


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October 2009
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