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.
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...
platforming for free. Just play it.