9.7 Overall Score

Hilarious game-play | fun randomized levels | frustratingly challenging but in a great way

No online multi-player

Spelunky, an indie action adventure platformer created by Derek Yu,  released yesterday, July 4th 2012 on the Xbox Live Arcade.  I tried out this game with my children, explaining to them that it is an updated version of an older game.  “So, you mean from when you were our age, right Mom?”, asked my ten year old son.

“No, I mean, from the original Version 1.0 that was released in September of 2009,” I responded as I smacked him in the back of his head.  Although I do have to give him credit, the latest version does look as if it is a more updated and graphically better remake of a retro game.

Snarky age-insulting children aside, I really have enjoyed  playing Spelunky.  The odd title is due to the fact that you are playing as a spelunker whose main task is to get to the bottom of each level.  You’re given limited means to assist you in this task.  You’ll have to adventure around the tunnels and caverns in each level to find more than the four ropes, four bombs, and four hit points you’re given to start you off.  Oh, and just to really piss you off, if you die…you lose it all, progress included.  My kids and I found this very frustrating, but in a good way.  There aren’t too many games out there that really challenge you to be your best and really require you to have some skill lately.

You would think that having to restart each time you die would eventually drive you insane.  It does, it is incredibly frustrating, but if you can believe it…frustrating in a very good, this is awesome, and I want to do this over and over again kind of way.  This not only increases the re-playablity factor of the game, but makes you feel like some kind of gaming master when you finally make it to the end.  Every time you play you find something new, an item, a new way to get through a level the right way, or new and hilarious ways to kill yourself.

Throughout the game your spelunker gathers treasures such as gold and jewels to add to your score, a task made difficult by a multitude of enemies.  There are ghosts, bats, snakes, spiders, and even man-eating plants.  Even the shop keepers in the game can become enemies.   If you accidentally shoot them,  allow some piece of debris (like a falling boulder) run into them, they get insanely mad at you and become your WORST enemy.  Seriously, I think at one point I threw the controller because I didn’t know how to get past one without him chasing after me relentlessly while wielding a shotgun.  There is NO getting away from these guys, so it’s best to not make them angry.

In addition to treasures, you can also collect more guns, climbing gear, and artifacts that have special supernatural abilities.  Some artifacts only work when combined with other items, that can be found throughout the game, purchased at shops, or stolen from the aforementioned shotgun wielding maniac store keepers.  You can also save damsels or pugs in distress, adding to the hilarity of the game.

Local multiplayer death match and co-op where you can help or hurt each other.  This is similar to New Mario Super Brothers Wii in terms of “co-op”.  My children are not team players, instead they think it is funny to see Mommy drop to her death on a pile of sharp stakes.  Deathmatch is like a throwback to Bomberman only more insane, and if you don’t have cruel children to play with, you can chose to play with AI bots.  The deathmatches take place in a small space filled with things to destroy each other with.  It’s a fast, furious, and exhilaratingly fun match.  If they would make this possible to do over Xbox Live, instead of just local, I’d give the game an ELEVEN!!

Instead of the levels progressing in difficulty as you complete them, Spelunky offers you completely randomized leveling.  World 2 may be worse than world 3, and that’s something that really toys with your head.  All in all, I love this game.  The controls are easy to figure out and they feel good.  The graphics, the soundtrack, the belly laughs you’ll get each time you die…all make this game a win.

Spelunky was nominated for three awards at the Independent Games Festival and won the Excellence in Design award. If you would like to purchase Spelunky on Xbox Live you can do so by clicking here.  It does cost 1,200 MS Points, but they are points well spent.  Try the free demo at the very least.  You can also play the original version for free online by clicking here.  For more information on both versions of the games, and info on their future release on Steam just visit www.spelunkyworld.com.  Oh, and they have toys too!

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Author: Marcia Webb View all posts by

2 Comments on "Spelunky"

  1. Loren Nikkel July 5, 2012 at 1:32 pm - Reply

    This looks like a lot of fun. Maybe Lauren will play this with me.

  2. NerdMom July 6, 2012 at 10:53 am - Reply

    This sounds great! The nice thing about co-op in these kind of things is that you can carry a little kid who stinks;). (she is 5;) But seriously, how much skill will it take for the kids to just survive?

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