Spelunky has finally hit the Xbox Live Arcade after several years of teasing, taunting and unscrupulously tempting my love for platformers, specifically those that challenge me – and boy o’ boy does Spelunky challenge me.
It’s a fine looking 2D platformer that not only evokes a passion for gaming I haven’t felt since the likes of Dark Souls blessed my console, it also brings about an awfully overwhelming sense of nostalgia.
As a single-player game it’s quite easily one of the best, if not the best XBLA title in existence. The gameplay is simple to pick up, but nigh on impossible to master. The soundtrack is almost perfect, offering enough variation to keep the game fresh, and visually the game brings forth a tribute of some of the greatest looking 2D sprites and atmospheres I’ve ever set my eyes on.
Gameplay is fast, fun, brutal and addictive, I’ve clocked up 18 hours playing Spelunky over the past two days, putting off other current AAA title for its simple charms. If you can remember classic NES and Master System titles then prepare yourself for a trip down memory lane.
Spelunky is relatively short, with only a few different settings and four stages in-between, all of which can generally be beaten in 30 seconds with a little skill, however Spelunky’s perma-death and collectibles add a sense of never ending fun. I should state I’ve only reached the fourth stage so far and obtained 50% of the collectibles.
To me Spelunky is the definition of gaming and I find it extremely hard to criticise. My only real issue is its multi-player options, and whilst Spelunky offers all it can in terms of Multi-player action, it’s impossible to truly perfect such a gameplay feature within a game as fast paced as this, that is, without making it an entirely different.
The multi-player mode restricts the camera to player one, meaning that quite often the other three players can be put at a huge disadvantage, and in a game that relies on seeing and hearing everything around you it corrupts the true experience.
There’s also a Deathmatch Mode and whilst that works 110% more effectively, it lacks the true exploration, fear and skill of the single player experience and instead tries for a 2D Bomberman experience.
The XBLA version however isn’t just a simple port, it’s been hugely updated in terms of graphics, content, soundtrack and multi-player features – and whilst the original PC version is still available as a free download over on the Spelunky site, I truly recommend picking up the XBLA version.
It currently reigns as my game of the year, the sheer joy it brings me is unfathomable – it does exactly what a game should do, no questions asked.
Platform: PC and XBLA
Price: 1200MS points
Release date: 4th July
Local co-op: 4Player
Online co-op: N/A
More info visit www.spelunkyworld.com