Saturday, 10 November 2012


Like chain smoking, heavy drinking or rampant substance abuse, Spelunky is a glorious bad habit. It’s an addiction you can’t seem to wean yourself off from. No matter how hard you try to switch off your Xbox 360, you’re doomed to succumb to those three hypnotic words in your head the moment you hit the game over screen, “one more try”.Which is surprising, simply because, right from the outset, there’s absolutely no reason for you to be head over heels for a game that looks more in step with the graphical leaps of the late 80’s and early 90’s. Big sprites, cute characters and primi-tive animations make up the framework of this oddly appeal-ing game. It looks like something that would be right at home on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) than something as powerful as the Xbox360.Nonetheless, it’s harmless but adorable presentation is just the bait that lures you into an abyss of pleasurable hell. Spelunky has you cast in the role of an explorer who has to traverse the deep and dangerous expanses of an underground network of tunnels and caves. It takes place in typical plat-forming fashion where you jump from one safe location to another. There are a slew of devices at your disposal if you can find the merchant hiding in each level (we’ll get to this in the next paragraph). These include bombs, ropes and parachutes, along with a few others that would help make your arduous journey to the depths a little more tolerable.As we mentioned, you’ll have to find the merchant hiding in each cave. Given how the game was developed, each level is randomly generated. Every time you die, you’re treated to a somewhat different layout, which more or less makes the great mugging skills and strong memory our educational system has forcefully bestowed upon us completely useless. How-ever, this arbitrary placement of entities isn’t just restricted to merchants. Try exit zones, platforms, treasures, traps, mon-sters and even the option of rescuing the damsel in distress in each level. All of this leads to an experience that has you spending more time flinging your controller to the ground than playing the game. This lasts for the first few minutes.Af ter those initial troubling moments, it settles into a fine groove of jumping, explo-ration, inevitable death, followed by a retry. The cycle then continues long into the night and before you know it, it’s already daybreak. What makes   Spelunky so damn playable is it’s single-minded focus ondelivery; gameplay that at it’s core has you craving for more. Much like its presentation, the game plays like a throwback to the heady platforming days of yesteryear. You won’t find save points, cut-scenes, elaborate plots or any other devices that detract from the experience, which includes running down caves, avoiding obstacles and jumping a lot. The controls are simple to use and feel just right; you never end up feeling like your character is too heavy or too light. Similarly, you never end up thinking that the number of items at your disposal is too much or too few. This is despite being limited to using one item at a time, weapons included. The balance is superb. And it is this masterful equilibrium between controls, inventor y and level design that makes Spelunky a fun game to play. You never feel distracted or overburdened with excessive informa tion. Instead, you’re too busy moving from one ledge to the next.
Thanks to the random level generation, predicting the lay-out of a cave from memory can be dangerous. Honing your instincts to react to your surroundings is a better ploy. Each time you lose a life or are greeted by a 'Game Over' screen, it is due to your fault alone. There is no way you could end up blaming the game for your character’s deaths, for all of it is a direct result of your actions; be it stepping on traps, being chased by monsters or even angering a shopkeeper (they tend to keep shotguns to deal with annoying players). Jumped on some spikes? You weren’t looking properly. Couldn’t get past a few baddies in a tunnel? You didn’t buy the right items or react quickly enough. Every time you find yourself starting a tunnel devoid of any items, you can beat yourself up instead of throwing away your control-ler in disgust. If there’s one thing you can’t fault Spe-lunky for, it’s for being a fair game.Multiplayer though, feels like another game alto-gether. The cooper-ative mode, which allows you and three other explor-ers to brave these underground caverns for fame and fortune, is okay. But the deathmatch mode feels forced. There’s no way anyone would have fun laying traps and causing the death of other players in such retro surroundings. It just ends up being an attempt to saddle an unnecessary game mode to justify the price of 1,200 MS Points (roughly Rs 1,000).Which brings us to the final part of the review - Spelunky is a classic example of a game that takes a few seconds to learn but an eternity to master. The game ends up feeling too little a game for the price. With games like Comic Jumper and ‘Splosion Man being 400 MS Points cheaper, there are equally interesting albeit slightly dated options available on the Xbox India Marketplace.So, much like every other hopeless addiction we’ve come across, Spelunky manages to fill each check box on the list of broken dreams. Namely, easy to get hooked in, tough to get out of, and the inevitable realization that it’s cost can’t be ratio-nalized in any way whatsoever. None of this means you shouldn’t pick it up at a lower price, though. In this case, one of three isn’t too shabby at all.


Posts a comment

© 2012 CodeCows | privacy policy | Terms and Conditions | Sitemap
Reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited.
All content except photos and videos copyright © 2011-2012, Codecows.
All rights reserved. *Any images or videos on this site are not mine and are copyright to their respectful owners unless otherwise noted and were used under creative common license or fair use standards. IF A PHOTO OR VIDEO IS YOUR MATERIAL AND YOU DO NOT WISH IT TO BE ON THE SITE, PLEASE EMAIL ME AND I WILL REMOVE IT IMMEDIATELY
Back to top