Saturday, August 18, 2012

Spelunky Review

At first glance spelunky is an adorable looking dungeon crawling adventurer. To the average XBLA consumer it reminds them of Terraria or Minecraft and lets you assume that it is all fun and exploration. The art style loses it's charm after about the second time you fall into a spike pit, lose all of your gear and have to start from level 1-1 all over again. Sounds awful right? Until when you realize the 8 stages you just completed took all of 3 minutes.

The basic premise is you have 4 lives, 4 bombs (which destroy map tiles), 4 ropes (makeshift ladders you can deploy), and a fresh clock. The controls are VERY precise and predictable, because if you touch really anything that isn't treasure, gear, a damsel, or the ground, you lose a heart. Your objective is to move through the map as quickly as possible without losing very many hearts. Easy? You don't get hearts back, unless you come across a damsel which you must carry to the end door or run into a kissing gallery where you can pay a hefty price from treasure you've collected so far in your short life for an extra heart or two. Idols count for $5,000 if you can survive the giant boulder that chases after you. Extra gear such as a pickaxe - which expedites your journey by allowing you to knock out bits of the map, and the compass- which gives you an arrow directing you towards the exit gate, will help you immensly. Oh, and for those of you thinking that you can safely crawl through the map at a slow pace, a giant ghost will come out the side of the screen at a certain point (around 2 minutes) and kill you on first touch. The name of the game is learning the systems - finding ways to avoid, defeat, or evade them- and doing so 4 times over before getting a completely NEW set of systems to learn, 4 times over. Caught all that? The name of the game is memorizing the systems and responding accurately.

There are 4 stages per level and 4 levels overall, but I've never made it to the last level (I'm probably 10 hours invested). After completing a level a certain amount of times you may be prompted to build a tunnel as a shortcut to a more advanced stage, however you give up any opportunity of being on the leaderboards, so feh to that.

The multiplayer consists of a few stages with drop boxes and awful things everywhere. It's essentially a super fast Bomberman in which certain maps are started by every bomb from all 4 players being launched at each other from the start of the match and is over in 5 seconds. It is very shallow, very quick, and pretty fun, especially if you play with bots and try to use some teamwork to take out the bots which are surprisingly cunning. There's also a co-op mode, which is the same as singleplayer except once again, no leaderboard possibilities, and no tunnelman appearances to build on your singleplayer game.

Props to Derek Yu for making me feel wholly inadequate.

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