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Boss Rush: You (Spelunky)

Boss Rush: You (Spelunky)


Spelunky is a game that I would describe as something that actively plays against your impatience. Be too fast and it will spit you back out. Be too slow and it will force hastiness upon you. But that’s part of what’s great about Spelunky in the first place. The roguelike platformer plays with your ability to be patient yet bold; adventurous but composed. In this world you are the ultimate enemy.

If you’ve never heard of Spelunky, it’s a 2D platformer in which you’re an explorer who traverses a series of underground caverns to find treasure. However through discovery you’ll come upon new levels, items, enemies and tricks to help you complete the journey through the treacherous mines, jungle, ice caves and temple. If you die, you’ll restart back at the beginning but can set up shortcuts to make your journey a little shorter. You collect treasure and generate cash which can be used in shops to buy items or health and can gamble it at special stores for a chance to win more money or a special item. Almost every item in the game serves only to assist you in Spelunky, it’s how you use it defines whether or not it can end up getting you killed.

For example let’s take a look at the Climbing Gloves. The gloves help you stick to any vertical surface, allowing you to leap upwards onto ledges or other surfaces you might not be able to reach with a simple jump. The double-edged sword of this item is the fact that you cling onto every surface you grab and can only let go by jumping away from it. This can put you at a disadvantage if you’re running from enemies that can chase you as your only method of escape can sometimes be jumping right at the thing that’s hunting you down. My sentiment here is when given the opportunity to grab an item, the one you get may not always be the one you need.

Another aspect of Spelunky is something I’ve mentioned already and that’s being the ultimate enemy to yourself. The game can take about twenty minutes to finish in one sitting and if you’re a purist you’ll always begin from the starting world – The Mines. What makes Spelunky difficult to master is having to hone your ability to finesse your way through levels without looking like an idiot and getting killed in a dogpile of enemies or traps laid out for you. Being too quick without knowing your surroundings is a sure way to die quickly but it’s a lesson that’s learned from getting beaten down and getting back up again repeatedly; a trial by fire for sure, but nothing out of the ordinary for these kinds of games.

What makes Spelunky stand out from other games however is the vast array of options and preferences you’ll attain as you figure out what items and tricks work to your playstyle. You might want to find the “Udjat Eye” item which helps detect the secret Black Market level to buy special items that grant you access to other areas so you can accumulate a higher score or you could just want to find a jetpack that helps you fly over dangerous obstacles.

Now how you beat yourself in Spelunky is something I’m not sure has a straight answer but I can give you these tips:

  • You’ve got to know your best and worst habits when doing a run and it’s something learned rather than thought in a lot of cases.
  • Ask yourself if you really need to waste extra bombs to get to something like an item crate which might not have an item you want.
  • Always know how far a jump will take you; You don’t want to end up just grazing a ledge and falling onto spikes!
  • If you’re gonna be dumb, you gotta be tough; You can kill shopkeepers for their items and cash but be prepared to fight rogue shopkeepers waiting for you at the exits of levels. If you’re going to betray them you may as well know you can fight back with more than just your whip.

Spelunky’s a great game and I can’t recommend it enough. It’s currently on Steam, PSN and XBLA for €14.99 and has cross-buy on the PlayStation platforms for PS3, Vita and PS4.