I love me a hard video game. Dark Souls, Super Ghouls N Ghosts, Battletoads, etc. all appeal to me because while these games can be relentlessly difficult, each death pushes me to try and make it just a little bit further than before. When I saw that the game Spelunky had hit XBLA, I decided to check out the trial. When I realized that the game shares a brutal level of difficulty with the games mentioned previously, I immediately purchased it. Goddamnit, I love Spelunky.
Spelunky is a brutally difficult 2D platformer with an old school feel.
Originally created by Derek Yu as a (still available) freeware game for Windows, Spelunky is a 2D roguelike platformer that tells the story of an Indiana Jones-esque adventurer who explores an ever changing cave system in the hopes of reaching the end. Throughout your travels you’ll rescue damsels (or dudes or dogs!) in distress, find golden idols protected by nefarious traps, and unlock new gear to better help you survive the caves. However, anything and everything will kill you, ranging from bats to arrow traps to giant scorpions. Hell, even shopkeepers won’t think twice about swiftly ending your game should you anger them. But to say that this is all the game is: a 2D platforming romp, wouldn’t be fair to Spelunky as it offers so much more than what’s on the surface.
Retro gameplay is slowly but surely making a comeback in a world inundated by cover based shooters and multiplayer FPS games. Team Meat made this clear with their smash hit Super Meat Boy, a love letter to classic platformers such as Super Mario Brothers. Continuing with this trend is Edmund McMillen (1/2 of Team Meat) and Florian Himsl’s latest game The Binding of Isaac, a roguelike RPG reminiscent of classic Zelda games. Does the game recapture Super Meat Boy’s charm and difficulty, or is it a failure that deserves to be locked away in the basement? Read on to find out.