By Louise Yang . January 6, 2009 . 6:44pm
If you’re a masochist for a game that deals out death like old ladies deal out stale Tootsie Rolls on Halloween, Spelunky! may be the perfect game for you. Derek Yu’s latest game combines the best of rogue-likes with the charming 16-bit platformers of yesteryear. The greatest part of all of this? It’s completely FREE.
After playing through the tutorial stage, which teaches you how to jump, use ropes, bombs, and the mechanics of moving around and not killing yourself, you’re thrown into the dangerous world of Spelunky! where the only thing that keeps you from death is your wits. The first time I played the game, I had no idea what was going on. I didn’t know who was an enemy, who I needed to rescue, and who I needed to run away. The appeal of the game is discovering the interactions between different people and objects. Here’s a tip: don’t piss the shop owner off.
The rogue-like element comes from the randomly generated floors. Players must navigate safely from where they start to the exit. Gold, items, and damsels in distress can be collected along the way, but dawdle too long and time runs out for the floor and a scary looking ghost starts coming after your spelunker.
Besides the promise of brutal yet hilarious deaths any rogue fan would be proud of, what really drew me to the game were the visuals. Spelunky! reminded me of all the fun I had with 16-bit platformers on the PC years ago when Apogee Games was still making Commander Keen games. The graphics made me feel all warm, tingly, and nostalgic inside. The lo-fi sound effects only add to that.
For anyone who’s on the fence about downloading it, there’s nothing to lose since it’s free. If you enjoyed all the ridiculous deaths you went through in the Mystery Dungeon games, Spelunky! is right up your alley.