Spelunky has been around for quite a while in one form or another and it proved to be a decent move when it arrived on Xbox Live Arcade some time ago. It’s taken a while, but now the rock hard exploration game has made its way to the both the Playstation 3 and the Vita and shows it’s just as addictive now as it’s always been.
The game has a very simple premise. You need to guide your explorer deeper and deeper into a cave while collecting treasure. The twist comes when you realise that each time you enter the cave the levels generate randomly. This means you never know what obstacles you are going to come up against. Unlike most games with randomly generated levels, here it actually works.
Starting in the cave world, every four levels completed will see you move onto new areas with new hazards and enemies. These include jungles, ice caves, temples and a host of secret areas such as hell itself. Each area also has random events that can occur such as the dead rising from the grave or large areas of open water. This helps keep things varied and fresh as you continually die and have to re-negotiate the levels.
While moving from one area to the next you will also come across the tunnel man. Meeting him three times and giving up the equipment or money he asks for will see a short cut opened to that area of the cave. This helps to ease the frustration of having to make your way through levels you have already beaten but comes at the cost of having your run not admissible to the score board.
To start with Spelunky can be a frustrating and unforgiving game but the more you play the more it will get its hooks into you. It takes time but eventually you will learn to take obstacles one at a time and become ever more cautious as you delve deeper and deeper. To help you in your quest you have a number of different items at your disposal.
You start out with ropes which can be fired to create safe routes to climb up and down and bombs which to clear path ways. There are a whole host of other objects available as well. Things such as jetpacks, climbing gloves and freeze guns can be purchases from shop keepers in exchange for the gold and gems you’ve found. Placement is random so you’re never quite sure what you are going to get.
As you get more and more used to the way you have to approach the game you’ll soon find yourself racing through the levels but it never becomes easy. You are always only one slip away from death and even the most experienced of adventurers can be easily caught out with a miss timed jump or careless fall. Some of our attempts lasted only a few seconds before death while others became slow and careful pursuits as we tried to get the last item needed to the tunnel man to open a shortcut. It all adds to the fun and Spelunky is tactile enough to be played with whichever approach you wish.
Overall, while it’s fair to say that Spelunky isn’t for the feint hearted it is undeniably an excellent game. Gamers who are like the ‘Rogue-like’ format will be in exploration heaven here. The ability to play on the Vita is also a match made in heaven (though graphics can be a little small at times). If you’re up for a tough and rewarding platformer then Spelunky is the game for you. Even against tough competition it’s clear it’s a cut above other games of its type.