As this game has randomly generated layouts for its stages, there is no definitive guide for getting through Spelunky. So instead this will be more so just a bunch of helpful tips and general strategies for making your way through the game's many, many obstacles. If you have any advice to add, please feel free to do so in the appropriate section.
- ABC: Always Be Carrying. Perhaps the golden rule when playing Spelunky, holding onto a spare rock, skull, arrow, or even a rat could very well save your life. This is especially useful when in the first world where there are motion-triggered arrow traps. Don't forget you can even carry certain objects between levels.
- When descending, don't just blindly jump down. Hold the down button to watch out for traps and enemies, especially any spikes that you do not want to land on. Your character can also take fall damage if fall from an apex height of eight or more tiles. Remember, you can also hang off of a ledge and drop down that way. That's one less tile height to worry about.
- Avoid unnecessary risks. If an enemy is in no way of harming you, don't go out of your way to kill it. If there is even the slightest possibility that you could get killed over some treasure or reaching a shopkeeper or whatever, don't do it.
- You want bombs and ropes. You want lots of bombs and ropes. And crates usually have these. To spend one bomb or rope to reach a crate is usually a safe gamble. But also don't be afraid to use them. Unnecessarily hoarding bombs and ropes is worse than not having any bombs and ropes.
- Spikes on the ground kill you instantly, but only if you jump on them. You can run through them when on the same level, even climb up when hanging on the ledge with a spikes atop it. It's still a good policy however to stay clear of them as you can easily be knocked back onto some spikes and die from it.
- Prepare to die. Over and over again. But dying isn't a terrible thing in this game. Learn from your mistakes and soon you will die less. Just don't get careless. Just because you most likely will die from something doesn't mean you shouldn't try to avoid it.
- Get used to angering the shopkeepers. Shopkeepers usually sell a lot of helpful things for you and being able to have every single one of these nice things is fantastic. This is also a good way to get a free shotgun from the shopkeeper. Of course before all this, you'll have to take care of the shopkeeper as he'll be trying to gun you down and continue to gun you down every single level afterward as well as stand guard at every single exit. More detail is given in the Robbing the Shop section of this guide.
- You can avoid fall damage altogether if you are able to catch onto a lower ledge upon jumping off. Though a bit tricky, this could very well save you a rope and possibly your life.
- Don't be afraid of the Ghost. While the Ghost can kill you instantly by touching you, it's slow and pretty easily avoidable with the proper space and terrain. This is especially important when "ghost mining", which is letting the Ghost pass through any normal-sized gemstone thus turning them into diamonds worth $5000 each. The Ghost will slowly travel straight to your location, so practice leading it at a certain height and then quickly jumping over or running under it to get away. You can even stun the Ghost for a second by using the Camera weapon on it.
- Sacrificing friends and foes pays off. While bringing a damsel to the exit nets you one point of health upon leaving, placing that (living) damsel on an Altar of Kali will get you an item that may just save your life down the line. You can also sacrifice any enemy that can be stunned (knocked down with stars above their head) as well as allies (hired hands, unlocked characters from coffins, and even other players in co-op). If the sacrifice is already dead, they are worth less "sacrificial points". Nonetheless, it's a good rule of thumb to sacrifice everything you can when you can. Also try not to have any altars destroyed.
World 1: The Mines
The Mines are simple enough, but can still be tricky to the unaware (or sometimes just unlucky).
Bat - These enemies hang from ceilings and start following you when you walk anywhere under them. They DO NOT follow you when you are at the same height as the bat even if you are standing right next to him. This is a good way of dealing with bats when given the opportunity.
Spider - Spiders hang from the ceiling like bats, but are only activated when you cross the path DIRECTLY beneath them. Once activated, they drop straight down and begin hopping toward you between brief pauses. Unlike almost all other enemies, spiders are not slowed down or trapped by spider webs. They can also be found within pots upon breaking them.
Spinner Spider - These purple spiders hang from their webs and drop down periodically usually in accordance to your character's height. If ever removed from the web (usually by having their web cut or being hit by a broken arrow), they will drop to the ground and then act like normal spider enemies hopping toward you.
Giant Spider - Giant spiders act very similarly to normal spiders except that they are also giant. In addition to regular spider behavior, giant spiders are capable of walking along the ground when activated and shooting out web above them making it tricky to jump on them. However, all giant spiders spawn with two webs directly underneath them which you can use by having a bomb get stuck in and killing the spider instantly. Every giant spider drops two gemstones and Bomb Paste, giving all of your bombs sticky property.
Snake - These are perhaps your most basic enemy as they simply move back and forth on their available ground. No real threat, but much like spiders they too can be found in pots.
Cobra - Like snakes, cobras move back and forth, but unlike snakes, they shoot out venom over a fair distance that can knock you back and stun you for a brief moment. This makes them much more dangerous as they can easily stun-lock you when given the chance.
Scorpion - Scorpions will walk back and forth not harming a soul. However if you move in front of their line of sight at their height, they will quickly leap toward you repeatedly. After one hit, they will be stunned very briefly, to which they can either be thrown elsewhere or sacrificed at an Altar of Kali if you're lucky enough to have one nearby.
Skeleton - Placed here and there on the ground are piles of bones with a skull next to them. While some skulls you can harmlessly walk past, some of these piles of bones will actually wake up when neared and begin to walk toward you. Therefore, it's good to treat every pile as hostile.
Caveman - These enemies act fairly similar to scorpions: walking back and forth and only activating when you break the direct line of sight. Instead of making quick leaps toward you, they will instead run toward you and immediately turn around upon running into a wall.