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Game Maker Games - Spelunky
 Spelunky by Derek Yu
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Review by Yellow Monkey
Spelunky, the newest work of the prolific Derek Yu, is an incredibly polished and engrossing game which proves itself to be a rewarding experience to anyone who is comfortable with its unusually brutal difficulty.

A conglomeration of the roguelike, action-platformer, adventure, and role-playing genres, Spelunky is a very distinct experience unlike any other. Your character in Spelunky is a treasure-hunter who resembles the illustrious Indiana Jones in his outfit, animosity towards snakes, and even his affinity for running away from giant boulders. At some point he decided it would be a good idea to pillage an unusually dangerous cave, and itís up to you to gather as much treasure as possible before escaping with your loot. Every time you play the game the caves are in a different layout, which ensures a different experience every time you play the game.

The presentation of the game works very well. The music and sounds generally are serviceable if not particularly memorable, but the graphics of the game are quite a deal above par. Not only are all the sprites easily readable, but they are also very pleasant to look at and create a suitably foreboding atmosphere. In addition, each area uses its own set of graphics and music, which is a rewarding indicator of progress as you descend the caves.

The caves themselves add much depth to the game; the random layouts not only create unique obstacles but also exceptional opportunities. Your strategy must be situational based on what resources are available, what enemies are present, the workability of the terrain, and a multitude of other factors. These work together harmoniously, creating a game which is both worthwhile to replay and filled to the brim with compelling, engrossing decisions. Even after completing the game once, it is still entertaining to go right back to exploring the caves and looking for overlooked secrets. Of course, even completing one run of Spelunky is not the same as completing any other game.

Spelunky is a hard game. It is a very hard game. Indiana must have made it look easy, because it may take the average player hundreds of tries to complete the game, and dozens of attempts to even reach the second area. The difficulty is absolutely unforgiving, and itís important to go into the game with this expectation. Almost everything in the caves is designed to kill you, and those which are not may end up killing you anyways. Even very skilled players will end up taking damage at some point, and health regeneration items are few and far between. The unrevealing aspect of the items and objects in the game also contributes to the difficulty, perhaps unfairly. Every time you play through the game you learn more about the items found in the cave and how they interact, which is one of the most rewarding parts of the game. However, the vague descriptions normally provided tend to not be sufficient information and overwhelms new players. Itís difficult and frustrating to play the game without an excessive amount of experimentation. A bit more direction would be beneficial.

The other flaws of the game are not nearly as severe. The controls do take a bit of time to get used to, and itís easy to throw a bomb or a rope when you meant to simply flick your whip. It is also annoying to waste a rope because your character was a couple of pixels off. Although looking around the level can be done, it takes too long and it would be helpful if the view was more responsive by default.

If youíre looking for a leisurely adventure, Spelunky is not the game for you. It is a hardcore and difficult experience, but also very rewarding, deep, and lengthy. Thereís a lot more to be said about this game, but youíll have to discover most of it for yourself. If youíre not someone who minds a challenge, then Spelunky is a must-play, because youíll find yourself engrossed in this gem dissecting every detail.

The creator wrote:
Spelunky is a cave exploration / treasure-hunting game inspired by classic platform games and roguelikes, where the goal is to grab as much treasure from the cave as possible. Every time you play the cave's layout will be different. Use your wits, your reflexes, and the items available to you to survive and go ever deeper! Perhaps at the end you may find what you're looking for...

Download Spelunky (EXE, ~11 MB , Content caution )

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Opinions about Spelunky
engaging
100%
artistic
83%
original
83%
strange
0%
challenging
100%
polished
100%
compelling
100%

Overall: recommended

Recommendations: The 4 people who like Spelunky also like the following games.
Comments (Add your own):
2010.11.09 Recneps
Rating: 9

Very nice game!
Excellent random level engine! Definitely one of the best GM games ever.
2010.04.19 yalmic
Rating: 9

Awesome as I have said I love retro style.
I cant resist robbing the shopkeepers.
If you time a bomb just right you can kill him easy.
(SPOILER)


Oh and did anybody else find the city of gold?
Or the hedjet ankh or magic scepter?
2009.11.16 Darkstorm
Rating: 10

Even though I suck at this game, I love it and it's addictive as crack (not that I know how addictive crack is)
2009.10.28 Ouchy1
Rating: --

To the above,
*possible spoiler but not really*



if you pay off the tunnel guy there are shortcuts.
2009.10.15 user_ferai
Rating: 9

In terms of depth and gameplay this game rocks: Randomized levels, tons of items and enemies, and of course treasure! Addictive, but difficult--I wish there were more health power ups so I could see the later levels. Great game though.
2009.10.06 yalmic
Rating: 9

Great game,much fun.
and I cant stop myself from
trying to get every piece of treasure.
Even though it usually gets me killed.
This is one of the best Game Maker Games ive seen so far!
2009.09.16 Ouchy1
Rating: 10

this game is amazing. More addictive than 95% of my commercial games, and i still haven't even gotten past level 6 yet ( currently at 65 deaths and counting XD)

The only problem i have with it isn't even the difficulty, but a couple of bugs. Mainly with the shopkeepers -- They are ridiculously paranoid, and i get killed by them more often than the gigantic spiders, even when i'm not trying to rob them (Which is also easy if there's one of those boulder rooms right next to them =P)
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