REVIEW – Spelunker HD w/DLC (PS3/PSN)

This Game Hates You, Your Family, and Even Your Dog


Spelunker HD is essentially a really enhanced port of the cult classic Spelunker.  The game is loaded with a ton of content and offers the option to play with modern graphics or an 8-bit pixel style, but Spelunker’s deliberate insanely difficult gameplay will undoubtedly scare most gamers away.  Fans of punishment, however, will surely enjoy the brutal gameplay.

Unlike most modern games, Spelunker HD does not hold your hand.  In fact, this game hates you and does not want you to win.

You play as a spelunker, a dude tasked with exploring caves and collecting treasure from a 2D sidescrolling perspective.  However, Mr. Spelunky Man is probably the most frail video game protagonist in the history of video games – he will die if he falls more than one foot even before he hits the ground.  Also, everything in these caves are out to kill him: boulders, bat poop, ghosts, traps, long falls, rope jumps, ice, and more.  You can even kill yourself by running into your own flair or bomb explosion. In fair warning, plan on dying.  A lot.  Even the check point system isn’t very forgiving or consistent.

Even though the game is exceedingly difficult, there is pleasure in that old school one-more-attempt philosophy.  With each try, the player quickly learns where the traps are and how to avoid them.  Like the original Donkey Kong, practicing with persistence is the key to Spelunker’s success and how to enjoy the game.  Unfortunately, some gamers will be turned off by the very first obstacle as getting the hang of rope jumping takes patience.  Playing through the tutorial stage first is recommended.

This modern take on a classic game has received some upgrades in the terms of DLC as there are now tons of levels that want to hurt you as well a new coat of graphical paint.  Personally, I found the game easier to play with the classic 8-bit art style in comparison to the modern graphical design; the nostalgia factor helps too.  When playing with the modern settings, the Spelunker himself was purposely animated poorly but just doesn’t look as good as it should.  Also, background objects can visually blend with enemies or things in the foreground and can cause confusion in regard to which elements are interactive.  But seeing 8-bit graphics on a high def TV is surprisingly, and eerily, smooth.

The single player campaign is monitored by real time Leaderboards.  The farther you travel, the better your score will be.  New to the HD version is online multiplayer mode where up to 6 spelunkers can co-op their way through these treacherous caves.  Although entertaining, the biggest downside is the lack of an online community to venture with.  Granted, this game was first launched a couple years ago but not being able to hop into an online match with 6 other gamers, let alone one other person, is a letdown but no fault to the game itself.  Luckily, same sofa multiplayer is available if you can gather a few friends together.  If you see someone online, join in.

Spelunker HD is one of those games where you are either going to totally love it or completely despise it.  It is not for the faint of heart but fans of NES difficulty will surely appreciate the old school charm and nostalgia.  And there is now a boat load of DLC available if you are one of the two people on planet Earth that managed to conquer the entire quest.


Better Than: you think it is going to be

Also Try: Elevator Action Deluxe

Wait For It: someone to hop online for co-op

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