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Format: PC
Genre: Platformer
Developer: Derek Yu
Publisher: Derek Yu

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J.D. Richardson feels young again...

I'm not usually a big fan of these kinds of games any more, and haven't been particularly smitten with anything like this since the late 80s and early 90s. But Spelunky is a little gem of a game that has rekindled my love of simple platformers.

It's initially so straightforward that there really wasn't much I could think to write about it. You control a little explorer guy who bears a striking resemblance, in a very cartoon-like and pixelated way, to Indiana Jones. The objective of the game is to explore randomly generated, fully destructible caves, collecting as much treasure as you can, before finding the exit and escaping to the next level. It's that simple. It's hard to put a finger on why it's so addictive, but it's probably got a lot to do with the freedom to gather whatever treasure you can before you leave. Thereís no time limit, and you can go back to any part of that particular cave you want, as long as you have enough rope or bombs to climb or carve your way there. Some of the treasure is just lying around, but most of it is hidden in the walls and floors as gold veins which you can drop bombs near to blow up the surrounding area, releasing the loot for collection.

"...there are no excuses..."

There are enemies along the way, like snakes, spiders, bats, cavemen and so forth that you can kill with your whip or guns, or by hurling rocks. You can also collect and buy a variety of other items (or steal them: I nicked a shotgun once, but then the shopkeeper distributed 'Wanted' posters around the rest of the game - Ed). It soon becomes apparent that, despite Spelunky's simple appearance, it can actually be brilliantly strategic. Should you use a precious bomb here to blow a hole in the floor so you can drop down and gather the loot below you, or should you conserve your bombs for later? Should you use one of your ropes to get to a higher area with the promise of even greater riches or should you save one for if you get trapped? Do you sacrifice that woman trapped in the cave to be looked upon more kindly by the great god Kali, or do you rescue her for an extra life? Thatís what makes it so compelling: you have options.

There's not really much more I can say about Spelunky, other than that you should just go and play it. It's free, and under 10mb, so there are no excuses. It's a trip down retro memory lane, except that it's also new and refreshing. What a funny old gaming world this is...

Marvelous platforming for free. Just play it.

About our scores...

Issue 4


Editor's Note

The Special Report
A silly video! Hooray!

The Evolution of Horror
A look back at the genre's history

16-Bit Boy
Do our minds corrupt the most innocent games?

Is it 'Game Over' for survival horror?
Where's the genre heading?

The Angry Gamer
Are games programmed to cheat?

Listen to your Elders!
Lessons from the FPS grandfathers

Vince D. Weller
What makes a good RPG?

Interview: Dan Pinchbeck
How far can we push FPS boundaries?

First Impressions: Resident Evil 5
Rekindling the spirit?


F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin

Cryostasis: Sleep of Reason

The Last Remnant

The Path

Big Bang Mini



Spelunky (Game of the Month)

ShellShock 2: Blood Trials

Hotel Giant 2