Spelunker (video game)
Cover of the original Atari 8-bit version
Tamtex & TOSE (FC/NES)
|Platform(s)||Atari 8-bit, Commodore 64, NES, Arcade, MSX|
Spelunker is a 1983 platform video game developed by Timothy G. Martin of MicroGraphic Image. It is set in a colossal cave, with the player starting at the cave's entrance at the top, and the objective is to get to the treasure at the bottom.
Originally released by MicroGraphic Image for the Atari 8-bit family in 1983, the game was later ported to the Commodore 64 and re-released by Broderbund in 1984, with European publishing rights licensed to Ariolasoft. It was released on arcade in 1985, on the Nintendo Entertainment System on December 6, 1985 in Japan and September 1987 in North America, and on the MSX in 1986. A sequel was released in arcades and for the NES on September 18, 1987 called Spelunker II: Yūsha e no Chōsen by Irem, in Japan only.
The player must walk and jump through increasingly challenging parts of the cave, all while working with a finite supply of fresh air, which can be replenished at various points.
The cave's hazards include bats, which drop deadly guano on the player; and a ghost haunting the cave, randomly appearing to take the player to the shadow world. The player character can send a blast of air to push the ghost away. However, this renders the player's character immobile for a few seconds, thus vulnerable to other dangers and further depleting their air supply. Objects to collect include sticks of dynamite, flares, and keys. Precise positioning and jumping are key factors in successfully completing the game.
The cave is divided into six levels. Although the levels connect seamlessly to each other, forming one large map, the game clearly signals a level change at certain points by showing the name of the next level and giving the player a bonus, consisting of an extra life and a varying number of points. Once a player completed all six levels, a new cave will be started with the same layout but with increasing difficulty. There are six caves total.
The splash screen of the original Atari version features an excerpt of Modest Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition as background music. All other versions of the game, including the Atari re-release feature a different title theme. The NES and MSX versions have additional music during gameplay.
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Computer Gaming World of 1985 called Spelunker "a thoroughly enjoyable game ... a class act". In Japan, Game Machine listed the arcade version of Spelunker on their February 15, 1986 issue as being the fourth most-successful table arcade unit of the year.
The game was re-released for Virtual Console in North America on March 17, 2008 and in Europe on September 5, 2008 for the Wii, in both regions on June 6, 2013 for the Wii U and in North America on June 27, 2013 for the Nintendo 3DS.
Sony Computer Entertainment of Japan released Spelunker HD for the PlayStation 3 on the PlayStation Network Store. It received the PlayStation Store best sales award in 2009 from Sony Computer Entertainment of Japan. The game is a remake of the NES port, with high definition graphics and 10 large caves with 10 levels in each.
In 2015, Square Enix released the free-to-play sequel Spelunker World for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita. On April 20, 2017, a new game based on Spelunker World was released in Japan for the Nintendo Switch. It was later released as a download worldwide and physically only in Japan, as Spelunker Party! on October 19, 2017.
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- Reprint of review from Atari Interface, Vol. 4, June 1992 at AtariArchives
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- Whitehead, Thomas (26 September 2017). "Spelunker Party! is Digging Its Way to the Switch eShop on 19th October". Nintendo Life. Retrieved 26 September 2017.
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