Enticing rewards tempt you into Spelunky's dangerous and exhilarating world.
More likely than not, when you stumble, it's because you pushed beyond your own abilities and came away scarred and sad. But there are times when the game's limitations lead to an untimely death. The controls, sharp as you could ask for most of the game, can fail in the most inopportune places. You might pick up the wrong item amid the clutter on the ground, or inadvertently grab on to a ledge when you wanted to fall straight down. These momentary hiccups can be disastrous. The visuals aren't always distinct enough to quickly communicate what you're carrying or if you're hanging from a ledge or standing on solid ground, and that hesitation is deadly in such dangerous environments.
At other times, Spelunky doesn't seem to play fair. Most of the time, debris is nothing to fear. You bomb some rocks and walk through the new path without thinking twice. But there are random times when a rock shoots out unexpectedly, taking away one of your precious life hearts before you can react. At other times, you carry an item to help vanquish foes. Tossing a pot or key is an invaluable way to kill enemies without getting too close, but there are unexpected side effects to contend with. The item may bounce off a nearby surface and strike you, hurting you in the process. Such setbacks feel cheap because the slightest difference in trajectory can make the difference between life and death, and there are enough dangers without the added difficulty of friendly fire thrown into the mix.
These problems are very real and can derail a run in a hurry, but they aren't ultimately so damning as to keep you away from this adventure. Rather, these blips become just another in the long list of dangers you have to be constantly vigilant of. What's so impressive is how you can use supposed obstacles to your advantage. For instance, the spiked totem poles in the jungle end your journey in a flash. But you could toss a passed-out caveman next to one of these and watch with malicious glee as he's impaled by this pointed tool of death. There are also many ways to make use of the damsel, hunk, or dog you can rescue in each level. As you carry them to safety, you can use them as a weapon or a decoy, or to set off traps, and you can even lay them on an altar to please a pagan god.
Spelunky isn't quite as punishing as it first appears. When you die, you do start back at the beginning without any valuables you earned. However, there are shortcuts to unlock as well. Each section is made up of four stages, and when you clear those, you meet a digger carving out a direct path to the new world. Pay his price, and you can warp there straightaway. But the cost is steep. His demands force you to play the game differently. For instance, when he requires a set number of bombs, you have to be prudent with your explosives. Whereas previously you might have carved a straight path to the exit, now you have to follow the natural route, baddies and all, and that tweak gives you new appreciation for Spelunky's flexibility.
For those who fear going through this dangerous land alone, there's a four-player cooperative mode (local only) that changes how you play. The action stays focused on one player on a single screen while the other players scramble to keep up. That aspect is unfortunate because a split-screen or online option where multiple explorers could venture down separate paths could have added a level of complexity unseen in single-player. However, there are some nice touches that make co-op worth experiencing. Once a player dies (and that should happen quickly), he or she turns into a ghost that can interact with the environment. Blow on enemies to push them away, or brush past a dynamite block to make it explode, and you can help your friends progress from the confines of the afterlife.
Though there is a simple charm to cooperative play, competitive action is too chaotic for its own good. Once again, up to four players take part in offline matches to prove who the best adventurer is. This too is limited to a single screen, and everyone rushes to and fro to bomb, shoot, or otherwise exterminate friends. The action moves so quickly with so much going on that it's hard to figure out what's happening, so this mode is good for temporary distraction rather than long-term enjoyment.
Neither cooperative nor competitive modes are where Spelunky excels because the core of this game is designed around the exploits of a lone survivor in a hostile world. Spelunky doesn't extend a helping hand when you're down. It doesn't have mercy. And that stubbornness is one of the main reasons it's so hard to pull away from the game. When you finally conquer something that has been hounding you for hours, you feel like the best darn explorer on the planet, and that feeling overshadows all the hardships you overcame down the troubled path you traveled.
The only thing that i dont like in XBLA games is that after buying games like this one for 1200M$ (Very expensive for what the game can offer you) is that the developers dont repay the consumers for the support with some nice FREE updates bringing new stuff,weapons,items,levels etc.I think it's not fair to pay 0.99$ for a mobile phone game like cut the rope for example and receive very often free updates with new stuff,and for a "Arcade" game that you pay ~14$ you dont receive any update or new stuff.
note to anyones whos thinking about buying this game if you haven't yet played on pc do so first it is free but it will help you decide if this version is worth the 15 bucks
@Kingdomkey33 I've only played the trial of the game but I am curious why people like this game so much. I love Super Meat Boy, VVVVVV, The Deep Cave, Bit. Trip Runner and other hard platformers but this game was just so... boring and generic. But I don't own it so I can't say much.
@Kingdomkey33 ...because everyone plays what you play and everyone loves what you love, right?
@Goyoshi12 no thats just my opinion, I just dont understand why this game is so hyped about. had nothing to do with what games I love, thats dumb for even mentioning it. lol...
@Kingdomkey33 Sorry I got an @$$hole vibe from the comment is all.
@slimskelter Are you referring to the graphics? This game is way too hard for a 7 year old.
Watch Giantbombs Quick Look and you will understand what I mean.
@uberjannieHaven't played this, but generally speaking on the way it looks all together, graphics included. I liked the original. I know when I was that age we were playing difficult games on our NES.
@slimskelter I don't think games have ever been as difficult as they were back on the NES. The original Ninja Gaiden, Kid Icarus, and Battletoads- they were all brutally difficult.
Tom, I find it strange that you say this game has control quirks. Anthony Carboni from Destructoid made a point to mention that he thought the controls were rock solid in his video review. I'd just like you to comment further on this, if you have the time. Thanks.
@andrewwittmaier I'll put it this way, if every reviewer had the same opinion and there was no diversity between them, we'd only need one gaming site. There are so many different places you can go to read or watch a review, of course some critics are going to have slightly different experiences with each game. 8.5 is a great score for a great game.
@andrewwittmaier The entry in The Bad says Control Quirks; Tom does comment further on this in the review itself. Read the first paragraph on the second page. (Actually, heck, read the whole review!)
@carolynmichelle Thankyou! I get so sick of people complaining about things addressed in the review when it's written right in front of them. Respect to you Caro :)
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@Gelugon_baat that's where you're wrong. I feel i owe them for releasing games i can enjoy thoroughly. I feel by giving them my money, i'm saying "keep making games the way you're making them, and i'll keep enjoying them
And i have yet to feel like i've wasted any cent of my money. I feel like i have put an investment into developers showing them that i trust and will continue to trust in the content they make. Would you rather me pirate games instead of rewarding the developers with my money that i feel they so rightfully earned?
You speak as if i only give my money to one developer. If you were to see my game collection, you would know you're dead wrong. there are numerous game developers out there i would gladly hand my money to, and rightfully deserve it, because they have yet to steer me wrong. Suda51, Platinum Games, Rockstar, DICE. I give those developers my money because they know how to make a good game. they know how to make an innovative game without losing a core audience. and in the case of suda and platinum, they know how to make a bat**** crazy game that is great and deserves your money.
Quit talking down to me and everyone here like a child. I know what i'm talking about
You spend monrey on good games, not developers. In the end the best developers will succede because they make good games.
If Rockstar made a bad game, and you knew it was bad because you plaed a demo, would you still buy it at full price just to support them? That would be dumb.
@DrMatta CHEAP ASS GAMERS GTFO!!! This is a good game, buy it if you're not poor. :)
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@Gelugon_baat I'm not even gonna argue with you anymore. you clearly talk down to everyone believing you're right. I buy these games from these developers because they make good games, but from what you're saying, we should only pirate them because we don't owe them a single cent.
With that logic, i could go into a store, take something and if someone tries to stop me, i can just say "I don't owe you or this store anything" and walk out.
@andrewwittmaier Yeah, it's EXACTLY thanks to folks like you that we have to put up with overpriced DLC and 'premium' memberships. If you guys weren't such sheep and bought everything for MAX price, we might still have some decency in this industry. "Hurr, get a job", "Durrr it's only 15 bucks, cheapasses" Keep letting them rip you off, you're doing a good job so far.
How is 15 dollars for a full game like this expensive? I would much rather spend 15 dollars on these arcade games than 60 bucks for AAA games that I spend less time in. I've spent the last 3 months playing indie and arcade games and have spent an incredibly smaller price for the same (if not more) enjoyability. If 15 dollars is too much for several hours of quality gameplay, then you need to drop gaming as a hobby.
@DrMatta @andrewwittmaier you know why we buy these games, and premiums, even with the price tags? because we support developers. We give them this money because they deserve it. it has nothing to do with us being sheep. If anything, you're being sheeped by all the people who stand for what's "right". $15 for a quality game is not way too expensive, you're just a cheapass who can't think for himself
If Tom Mc Shea just loves platformers why does he reviews other types of games? When Its a platformer (like this) he rates good, but when he plays other games ( like lego batman 2 ) he ignores them and rates bad. TELL ME!!!
@Angry3DSNerd YES!!! Bang on!
@Angry3DSNerd aw is someone upset about Lego Batmans score, you do know that Lego Batman and all other Lego games are platformers and Tom has liked them in the past right? His problems with the new game is the fact that they havent even tried to fix any of the many issues that have plagued the games since Lego Star Wars and they just keep pumping out game after game after game with the same issues over and over and over again.
@Goyoshi12 Must kill it before it lay eggs!!!
@Goyoshi12 IT does not play video games. IT only comments on how IT is not a fan of videos games. do not engage in any sort of discussion with IT.
@Goyoshi12 It's like a plague I swear
I think local co-op has returned with a passion recently. Tons more games have local co op now then at the beginning of the generation.
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@Gelugon_baat There is a video on GS on how local Co-op is dying. I am actually glad more developers are tying to bring it back.
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@Gelugon_baat I only did it this one time just for you. I may have done it in the past unintentionally. However, your compulsion is consistent. You are in multiple articles and reviews doing this. I am not expecting an explanation. We can go back and forward and you still wouldn't tell me why you waste time arguing with the petty people as you put it. Neither of us is gonna get the answer we want. =P
@Gelugon_baat I wrote that because I knew you would reply. I notice your necessity of correcting people for the sake of it. You have very strange compulsion. But I always enjoy your antics.
@stan_boyd I think is both. Gelugon already admitted to trolling people opinions for baats own amusement. Looking at the games baats plays. I think the game selection there is very limited. Giving me the impression that baats plays only certain games. It doesn't matter when you argue with baats there is no way out. Gelugon opinion is right among all others.
@Gelugon_baat I like my contra the way it is. Thank you very much. Spelunky could suffer from unnecessary split screen.
@ExplicitMike I am used to baat chewing faces off, I have never read an article that he/she wasn't trying to flame people. I wonder if he/she even plays games or just comes on this site all day long to flame people cause I don't read every article but every article I do read there is baat.
@stan_boyd Stan you are playing with fire. Gelugon is gonna eat your face. Do you need a sword and shield? LOL (If you read some of my messages I was kinda thinking that too.)
@Gelugon_baat Well your whole arguement against multiple players sharing one screen seems to be that it forces you to work together. Isn't that what coop is all about, you know cooperation.
@Gelugon_baat Gelugon_baat just does not play well with others thats why baat hates this style coop cause teamwork is not even in their vocabulary and even when playing coop baat still plays solo.
@Gelugon_baat Thinking a bit about it, Split-Screen would be terribl and actually not viable at ale. You NEED to be able see the whole screen, otherwise it would be impossible to avoid some traps and enemies
@Gelugon_baat Are you even planning on playing this baats? or are you gonna skip it based on a co-op that you aren't even gonna try.
@Gelugon_baat You wanna co-op with my spelunky? Ops that sounds dirty nervermind. LOL
@Gelugon_baat Oh Gelugon that's why I love you. You can always write such pretentious things. The point was you haven't played it. Until then is hard for me to agree with you. =P I have a hard time believing anyone other than me could play multi-player games with you.
@Gelugon_baat everyone I spoke to agreed. So I am gonna go with my gut that it was badly implemented. As for Spelunky you and I haven't played it. I am not sure how you can talk about it as if you have played it. I gave my insight based on the PC version.
@Gelugon_baat Also split screen can be horrible for some games. Lego Harry potter game me a headache. They should have just moved the camera away.
@Gelugon_baat This game has many fans? I am not gonna speak on that because I don't know. Honey you sure throw that word out there a lot. Again it is you. You can't just use fans will forgive it for all your arguments. There is no split-screen in lots of co-op and versus games. They work just fine. I wouldn't say is user unfriendly.
@Gelugon_baat LOL nothing ever satisfies the mighty Gelugon_baat. Are you just taking the video of the co-op as evidence that it isn't user friendly?