Title screen of the original Microsoft Windows game.
Eirik Suhrke (XBLA)
|Release date(s)||Microsoft Windows
Spelunky is an indie action adventure game created by Derek Yu and released as freeware for Microsoft Windows and as a commercial game for Xbox 360 (two unofficial ports to Mac OS X also exist). The player controls a spelunker who explores a series of caves while collecting treasure, saving damsels, and dodging traps. The first public release (version 0.96.1) was on December 21, 2008. Version 1.0 was released on September 1, 2009. The source code was released on December 25, 2009, along with Version 1.1. An enhanced version for Xbox Live Arcade was released on July 4, 2012.
Players control an unnamed adventurer, known as the spelunker. The aim of the game is to explore underground tunnels, gathering as much treasure as possible while avoiding traps and enemies. The spelunker can whip or jump on enemies to defeat them, pick up items that can be thrown to either attack enemies or set off traps, and use a limited supply of bombs and ropes to navigate the caves. Levels are randomly generated and grouped into four increasingly difficult "areas", each with a distinctive set of items, enemies, terrain types and special features. Later areas contain better treasures, plus secret locations (like the City of Gold) and items. However, if the player loses all their hearts or runs into an instant kill trap, they will have to start from the beginning.
Enemies include animals like bats, snakes and spiders of varying sizes, other characters, and monsters like yeti, man-eating plants and ghosts. The player can collect many items, mainly gold and jewels which add to the player's score, but also useful objects including bombs, guns, climbing gear and archaeological artifacts. Some of the latter have supernatural abilities, including kapalas, hedjets, crystal skulls and golden ankhs, though many of these special items can only be gained through secret methods, like combining other items together. Some items may be purchased or stolen from shops scattered about the caves, though the shopkeeper becomes a powerful enemy if you steal from him.
The player can also encounter damsels in distress trapped in the caves, who can be picked up and carried to an exit. Successfully doing so returns health to the player. It's possible to unlock the damsel as a playable character; gameplay is identical, except that the player encounters spelunkers to rescue. Another unlockable character is the "Tunnel Man", who possesses a mattock instead of a whip.
The Xbox Live Arcade version of the game features local multiplayer (co-op and deathmatch) for up to four players. There are 9 different characters to play as.
Spelunky also includes a level editor, in which players can create their own non-random levels to share with others.
Spelunky draws heavily from La-Mulana and Spelunker for its visual styling, character design, gameplay elements and general mechanics. Essentially a dungeon crawl, it also adds elements from the roguelike genre, including randomly generated levels, a lack of save points, frequent and easy death, and discovery mechanics. It draws equally from the 2D platformer genre, including real-time interactions with enemies.
The spelunker himself is a caricature of traditional pulp heroes, with a notable similarity to Indiana Jones; he wears similar clothing, and his default weapon is a whip. For this reason he is sometimes referred to by players as "Indie" (a double entendre on the Jones character's nickname and indie games) or "Iowa Jack".
Since the game code was published under a license permitting noncommercial distribution and modification, community members have created many modified versions, or mods, of the original game. Most of these are available via the forums on the web site for Derek Yu's video game company, Mossmouth, where a list is maintained of finished mods.
The spelunker is one of several indie game characters who can be unlocked and played in Super Meat Boy. Referred to as "Spelunky" in Super Meat Boy, the character has the special power of explosive jumps (referencing the bombs he carries in the original game), and he is exclusive to the Xbox Live Arcade version.
IGN gave the XBLA version a score of 9.0 and an Editor's Choice award, calling it "a superb 2D platformer that's as easy to hate as it is to love." GamesRadar gave the game 5/5, praising its gameplay and constant sense of discovery. GameTrailers gave the game a score of 8.3, praising its design but criticising some control quirks and throwaway multiplayer. 1UP.com gave the game an A ranking, saying "it offers the same immediate, pick-up-and-play fun of Geometry Wars, but demands much more than the simple reflexive reactions of your lizard brain."
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