February 11th, 2011
As the official site states “Spelunker is the Weakest Action Hero in the History of videogames”, and that is no exaggeration. You may remember shot of the first death in the game, falling 2 feet. That’s right; our hero is a real wimp when it comes to the threshold of pain.
The game was originally released in 1983 (yes before even Mario Bros!) and if you still like the original flavor, there are modes for the original version as well as revamped HD mode. The premise of the game is simple. Get all the keys and take them to the exit. Your weapons of disposal include a fan and bombs you pick up. Doesn’t get any simpler right?
This is where the challenge begins. Why would anyone want to play a game this knowing death is just a short drop, or ghost apparatus, or bat droppings can kill you. that ultimately IS the challenge! The game is unforgiving and there is where the appeal begins! You run through the cave over and over learning from trial and error (and believe me there is a lot of error), eventually plotting a perfect course through the map. While it may seem like you should be careful and take your time, you’re also taunted with an air meter that gradually decreases. If you plan to fight off ghosts with fans, it decreases time even faster. The game is completely unforgiving and that’s the fun part!
Where the game really shines is the multiplayer mode. Up to six people can play the maps at the same time! Headset support is lucky here so you can talk to teammates, and if they don’t have it there’s a list of emoticons ranging from “Haha you died” or “I need a key”. With 6 people you share lives as well so watch who you choose for a teammate as they can sink the team (or revive you in the darkest moments). Speaking of sinking, there also the challenge that some things in the game can be more complex, like riding a boat with more than two people or climb down a rope. The rope will break with too much weight!
There are a ton of secrets in the game too like artifacts you find in the cave from blowing up hidden walls or areas that can only be reached by having at least 3 people team up. All scores online can also be compared with scorecharts and the like.
The one minor flaw outside of dying around every corner would have to be the way online lobbys are setup. Unfortunately the game has not implemented game invites so you need to let people know you are waiting in the lobby and them to join. Once a full game is started with 6 people there tends to be a bit of lag but nothing too disruptive.
Spelunker HD retails at $9.99 exclusively on the PSN store. Though Spelunker Black has been released in Japan (a far more challenging game as you can only see limited parts of the map) it has not been announced stateside yet.