For a downloadable title that started out as a free to play online game, Spelunky sure has come a long way. Derek Yu’s long in development remake finally made its way to consoles last year and is now out for Sony platforms as a cross buy title that also include cross play and cross save. And it’s just as ass-kickingly hard as before.
Spelunky draws inspiration from a variety of games, most namely Spelunker, a super difficult, unforgiving and just plain awful platformer from many, many years ago. As an explorer digging through mines, you’re after fame and fortune. Dangers lurk at all corners and most of the time, your attempts at getting rich end in the most painful of deaths.
But you will still come back for more.
Like the ilk of fun and rewarding, albeit super difficult games such as Super Meat Boy, Spelunky‘s reward comes from dedication. You always start off with a whip and a handful of bombs and ropes, and it’s up to you to make the most of it. Each stage can be finished quickly and skilled players can even complete Spelunky is less than ten minutes. Levels are randomly generated, so each playthrough is different from the one before.
Skill, though, is something that comes with time in Spelunky, and experience is measured by how well prepared you come to the game. The limited tutorial only shaves off a tiny bit of the gigantic iceberg of content Spelunky has to offer in ways of offing your precious and oh so lowly existence. A mere rock lying in a dark cave might prove to be the most useful tool you could carry, but then again, so can a shotgun. Sadly for you, most of those have very angry shopkeepers behind then, who are not at all welcoming to the idea of sharing.
See, all the money and treasures you collect can be used to buy new items to perk up your arsenal in shops hidden throughout Spelunky‘s levels. But, if money is short and you have more courage than sense, a life of crime has its rewards – if you can take the heat. That balance of planning out moves and thinking on the spot is just one of Spelunky‘s charm, since everything can go wrong and usually does, with hilarious results.
These results provide much of the fun in Spelunky. You can never tell what you’ll run into each time you start a game. The randomness makes each playthrough unsettling, but also pushes you to go further and learn how to deal with what it throws at you. Stories come out of playing Spelunky – a few might end in glory, most end in death, expletives abound.
The Vita version of Spelunky turned out brilliantly and is probably the best port of the game you could pick up, especially if you plan on taking the game out on the road with friends. Co-op has been drastically improved and can now be played off screen with local friends on PlayStation 3 and on other Vitas, while on other systems, co-op players were tethered to a single screen locked in on the host spelunker. On the other hand, the daily challenge feature that comes with the Steam version of Spelunky is nowhere to be found.
Jumping from Vita to PlayStation 3 works extremely well thanks to cross saving. Your progress carries over seamlessly, meaning you can pretty much have Spelunky ready to go anywhere, a huge plus thanks to how easy it is to pick up and play in short bursts. This is quite possibly one of the best uses of the ‘cross’ feature I’ve seen since picking up a Vita.
There’s absolutely no reason not to give Spelunky a go, it’s probably one of the best games out for the moment on the Vita and even on the PlayStation 3. You’ll be coming back to it time and time again, not just to hone your skills or take revenge at it, but also to see what’s next. It’s a brilliantly conceived idea that makes for a great reason to just keep going at it. The rewards are boundless. If you survive, that is.
No daily challenge feature.