Spelunky Review for Xbox 360

Spelunky Review for Xbox 360

Embrace Your Inner Treasure Hunter

I don’t usually enjoy games that punish you for your ineptitude. Call it bad taste, or maybe it’s the consequence of being babied by the current generation of games that practically hold your hand through the game, but I’ve just never been terribly fond of the type of game that tosses you into a pit filled with countless murderous creatures and arms you with a jump button and a particularly useless stick. Spelunky is that type of game, a 2D platformer that’s broken the wills of enough gamers to qualify to join the likes of Super Meat Boy and Battletoads on the pantheon of intensely difficult titles. It takes some mercy on you by arming you with a wide array of weapons and tools with which you can use to make it through its levels, but just as you’re feeling confident it strikes you down and laughs in your face. With that said, despite its unforgiving nature, I still loved it.

Spelunky Screenshot

Playing games like these is like being in a bad relationship; there’s a lot of fun to be had, but then, every so often, you get hurt. Spelunky abused me, but I’m not ashamed to say I kept coming back. “It’s just so attractive,” I kept telling myself. “I’ll be better, and thus it’ll treat me better,” I’d say. I did get a little better, no doubt fueled by my overwhelming desire to maintain this rocky relationship with a game I so dearly wanted to love, and I soon discovered that I was indeed getting better. I died less often, I learned tricks for getting through levels quickly, and I continued accumulating a vast wealth of gold and miscellaneous other trinkets I found along the way.

My experience with Spelunky is remarkably similar to the one I had with Demon’s Souls, only I warmed up to this game much more quickly. It took me a few weeks to scrounge up the willpower to stay in Demon’s Souls’ incredibly dangerous world, but thanks to a slightly gentler learning curve and an absolutely adorable art style, I warmed up to Spelunky after a short while.

Spelunky Screenshot

Fans of the freeware version for PC might be wondering to themselves what the difference between these two versions is. For 1200 MSP, there had better be some pretty radical changes and/or additions. Don’t worry, there’s plenty new here. The most notable changes come in the revamped graphics and music. The game looks incredible compared to its PC counterpart. The graphics are smoother and more vibrant, and the music provides a fantastic backdrop to what happens on-screen.

That’s not all, as the controls have been polished a bit while they were adapted for the controller. This means your character controls a little better than they did in the PC version, and even though the game was originally designed for PC, it feels as if it had been created for consoles. Getting your character around the levels is simple enough, but underneath that simplicity lies certain tricks and techniques that you’ll eventually learn as you keep playing.

Spelunky Screenshot

Spelunky for XBLA also brings with it a slew of new items, zones, monsters, items, traps, and secrets. On top of that is the brand new four-player local co-op. You can go through the campaign with up to three friends, or you can compete in the Deathmatch mode that has each of you fighting for the title of best treasure hunter (the title comes with some serious bragging rights).

If you’re the type who likes to compete with yourself, feel free to try and beat your own times or those of your friends. You can show off your mad speed-running and high-scoring skills on the XBLA’s leaderboards, where you can compete for the top spot among your friends or the world.

The neat things about the levels is that they’re randomly generated, so there’s a little bit of luck involved if you’re trying to beat a score or a certain time. They’re also fully destructible, so a few well-placed bombs can shave precious seconds off your time or gain you access to a difficult-to-reach area or artifact.

To help you get through all these creature-infested caves, you’re going to need some tools. A good spelunker is a prepared spelunker, and that means you’re going to need to familiarize yourself with the many tools you have at your disposal. Your basic items include the whip, which you’ll need to keep enemies at a distance, the aforementioned bombs, and rope. Some of these things can be modified, like adding a sticky substance to your bombs so they can stick to walls and ceilings, bringing an extra layer of strategy to how you traverse the levels.

Spelunky Screenshot

There are a lot of creatures waiting in the shadows of these caves, so you’ll need to make sure you have a weapon handy at all times. Spelunky’s arsenal is pretty impressive, including a bow, machete, pistol, shotgun, and, of course, the whip. If you’re out of ammo, you can always use the myriad items littered about the cave floors as a projectile by tossing them at your foe. Taking down two oncoming bats with a well thrown skull is one of my prouder moments in recent gaming.

There’s no shortage of horrors lurking in Spelunky’s labyrinthine caves, ranging from aliens to bats, spiders, cultists, frogs (they’re more dangerous than they sound), skeletons, mummies, vampires, and ghosts. The ghosts are particularly terrifying because they’re big, can’t be killed, and can easily kill you if they manage to reach you.

The four-player co-op is frantic fun because you really need to work together to survive. The only problem is that your teammates can hinder your progress just as easily as they can help it. One bad teammate can mean a lot of friendly fire and a fair amount of griefing, so I hope you’ve chosen your friends wisely. If you just can’t fight the urge to push your friends off cliffs or into traps, the Deathmatch mode is probably better suited to you. It plays out like Bomberman if it were a platformer and had more variety. If you want to make sure you have the upper hand, feel free to practice against the A.I. bots so you can make sure that when you go up against your friends they won’t stand a chance.

Spelunky looks and sounds exponentially better than its PC sibling and has near-infinite replay value, a fantastically quirky personality, and tons of things to do. It’s just as fun finding new ways to make use of your tools and items as it is beating down any unfortunate creature that gets in your way. The option to play with a few friends is a very welcome addition, and despite the fairly steep difficulty this is a fantastic game to whip out at a party. If you’re looking for a game that’s as fun as it is challenging, Spelunky isn’t likely to disappoint.

There’s a cutesy, quirky art style that meshes perfectly with its fun personality. 4.4 Control
A platformer needs to control well, and thankfully, Spelunky doesn’t have many problems. 4.5 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The music and sound effects are easy on the ears. 4.6 Play Value
The option to play alone or with friends adds definite replayability, and you’ll want to go through the levels multiple times to beat your score. 4.5 Overall Rating – Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.

Review Rating Legend
0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 – 2.9 = Average 3.5 – 3.9 = Good 4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 – 2.4 = Poor 3.0 – 3.4 = Fair 4.0 – 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Fight creatures and hunt for treasure alone or with up to three friends cooperatively or in the Deathmatch mode.
  • Brand new art and music makes this a real visual treat.
  • Use your gear to explore caves that are brimming with dangerous creatures and hidden treasures.

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