Friday, July 13, 2012

Spelunky: dungeon-diving gold-farming fun

Some of the videogames I play have a propensity to make me angry. I hate being defeated! As much as challenge is an important part of videogames, sometimes I'd like to win. This is a particular foil when I play online games against human opponents. At least when I'm up against the AI, it's a code - and codes can be broken.

Spelunky (2008) is a single-player game that constantly defeats me, and yet I never get angry. It is so fast-paced, so retro, and its level are such a joy of randomly-generated puzzle-solving, that dying isn't so much an opportunity to win lost, as an opportunity to start anew and do even better.

Spelunky is a rogue-like platformer in which you only have one life. You descend through dungeons filled with traps - like dart-shooting idols - and monsters - giant spiders, poisonous toads, and the hungry dead - and try to collect as much gold and jewels as possible, stopping on your way to steal golden idols and rescue damsels in distress. You use bombs, ropes, capes, spiked shoes, and other items to help you along the way. In the narrative sense, then, it is the epitomy of cheese - taking as it does pretty much all its cues from Indiana Jones - but from a gaming perspective, it's amazing.

And it's free! Spelunky was just re-released for Xbox Live, for which you must pay, but the PC version (and we all know real gamers game on PCs) is still a free, 10 MB download. Suffice to say, it's more than worth your (non-)money. Although I haven't got past level 8 (and I believe there to be something like 30), it's an incredibly fun game sure to deliver hours of fun.