cptmorganca's Spelunky (Xbox 360 Games Store) review

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Spelunky Review – Psychotic Enjoyment

I come to you as someone who has not been able to complete Spelunky. I’ve seen the Temple multiple times, but have been swiftly knocked on my ass before walking through that final door. I told myself I need to complete it, but I can’t suffer through this anymore. Spelunky brings out the worst in the gamers, including myself, and forces you change your inpatient habits. It’s an amazing experience with superb controls and extremely tense moments of fear. It’s incredibly rewarding, and evokes a sensation to keep trudging through death after death, quite similar to my love of Dark Souls.

You have a very singular goal in Spelunky. Get to the end of the Temple. But to get to the Temple, you must go through the Caves, and to get to the Caves, you must go through the Jungle. And to get to the Jungle, you must trudge through the Mines. And that’s where your adventure begins. In a perfect universe where all of the terrible traps and obstacles are absent from Spelunky’s world, the game can only take upwards of 20 minutes to complete. Of course, there’s much more to Spelunky than that.

He’s just, you know, Spelunkin’

Spelunky is incredibly brutal. You spawn with 4 hearts, 4 ropes, and 4 bombs. That’s it. You get hurt; you’re probably not getting your health back. Unless, you can find the damsel in the current stage and take her to the exit, which can be a huge risk, but you will regain one heart when you move onto the next stage. You have a basic whip attack, which can be very effective against most enemies if you know when to attack. I will say that some of the hit-boxes for enemies are kind of poor and feel cheap sometimes, but it’s a minor gripe. Of course you can always pull a Mario and hop on enemies heads. Sometimes you will encounter different kinds of stores throughout rooms, sometimes containing useful items you may buy will the gold you collect. You can pick up anything from extra bombs and ropes, to shotguns, teleporters, machetes, spring shoes, boomerangs, and even a golden cape that allows you to activate a glide to avoid fall damage. Sometimes you will encounter a Wheel of Fortune type room where you can gamble $2500 to possibly win more money, or the special prize behind the wall.

“You must learn the rules of Spelunky’s

world through a lot of trial and error”

Spelunky plays like a 2D platformer, and specifically feels quite similar to Super Meat Boy in nature. Holding down the right trigger will make you sprint abnormally quickly, which can easily be to your detriment when used too liberally, and stupidly. You must learn the rules of Spelunky’s world through a lot of trial and error. Is that trap that shoots an arrow at you when you walk in front of it pissing you off? You must learn to pick up a pot or a rock and drop it in front of it, setting off the arrow and disengaging the trap. Eventually you will be so above those traps, you begin to not worry about them. And then you get stupid.

Yea, if you didn’t know, this game gets insane

“you can never employ the same strategy twice,

since every stage is randomly generated”

Each Spelunky area has 4 rooms. You might have to redo Jungle 2-1 over and over again, but you can never employ the same strategy twice, since every stage is randomly generated. You can never count on a certain item being a certain place, because it’s a new adventure and new layout every single time. Trudging your way through the Caves just to randomly fall on spikes on the final room can be extremely frustrating, and can lead to wanting to rush through stages to return to where you left off, which is a very sure-fire way to kill yourself through pure stupidity.

There’s really only one means of progression through Spelunky, the Tunnel Man. Each time you complete an area and move onto uncharted territory, Tunnel Man will be there. Each time you visit him, he will request an item to help him in making his shortcut. He might ask for 5 bombs, or 8 ropes, or sometimes special items like a shotgun. If you supply him 3 times, a new shortcut will open that will allow you to bypass previous areas. Instead of having to go through the Jungle every time you want to access the Caves, you can just go straight there. There is something extremely rewarding about finally getting a shortcut you’ve been working your tail off for.

Hello there! I’m the Tunnel Man. Please bring me the rarest item in the game to help me with my shortcut!

“(The fun of Co-Op) all depends on who you’re

playing with, and if they know what they’re doing”

The game also offers cooperative play for up to 4 people locally, for both regular adventure and a mode labeled Deathmatch. Deathmatch pits you against your friends in pre-made stages, and it is freaking bonkers. It’s always over in seconds, and can be pretty funny at times due to some wacky things that tend to happen in Spelunky. Playing the adventure mode cooperatively can be a great thing and a terrible thing. Sure, you have a buddy to help you out, but if he dies he turns into a ghost that can blow air to push you off a cliff. If he’s smart, he’ll push enemies into traps and explosive mines out of your vicinity. It all depends on who you’re playing with, and if they know what they’re doing. Oh, and you would think that you get more supplies as you add more people, but no, supplies are split. Oh Mossmouth, you bastards.

Dude, get the boomerang. Incredibly useful.

The soundtrack in Spelunky is sensational. It’s all very well made retro 8-16 bit tunes that really do sound like they could have been produced 25 years ago. It doesn’t seem as if there are area-specific tracks, which is kind of a bummer. Nonetheless the music is fantastic, and I really hope a digital version becomes available soon.

I suppose that I’m frustrated that I don’t want to stop playing Spelunky, and refuse to end my miserable adventure until I beat it, and laugh in its face (in a psychotic way, I suppose). It’s truly a unique experience, especially on the XBLA platform. I’ve personally spent upwards of 15 hours with the game, and have died over 550 times. I recommend everyone tries Spelunky out, because it will either be your worst game or best game, or in my case, both. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to carry this freaking golden key from the Mines to the end of the Caves.

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