Video games have been around for a while and we’ve seen trends come and go. One complaint you’ll often see is that there’s been a push toward making modern games too easy, too willing to hold your hand. That certainly wasn’t the case back in the day, where even home video games were all about kicking you while you were down. That’s the world Spelunker HD Deluxe comes from, and if you’re the right kind of player all that death might just be what you’re looking for.
There’s a little bit of a plot here, but it’s fairly standard cave adventure fare; Spelunker’s a retro title that’s all about the gameplay. You might look at this one and think that it’s cute and approachable. Let me assure you that as cute as everything is, you’re going to spend a whole lot of your time dying. Make no mistake: Spelunker is tough. Damn tough.
You’ve played Spelunky, right? You know how it’s a relatively free-flowing game, offering a little forgiveness despite being loaded to the brim with deathtraps? Yeah, that’s not Spelunker. Spelunker wants you dead and it’s not going to relent until that happens. You’ve got a jump, some bombs, some flares and a very short lifespan. Good luck!
If you try to climb onto a ladder with a little gap in front of it without jumping, you’re dead. Walk around without checking the ground for sinkholes? Dead. Touch bat poop? Dead. Run out of flares to stop the bats from pooping? Dead. Walk even vaguely close to some fire? Get bit by a snake? Fall further than approximately curb-height? Take too long trying to work out how to avoid all these traps, thus causing a ghost to spawn and haunt you? Dead, dead, dead.
Lest this come off as a complaint, let’s get the record straight: that’s absolutely what you’re coming here for. Spelunker’s a classic game, originally hailing from 1983, and Spelunker HD Deluxe leans into that as hard as you can imagine. You’ll improve or you won’t progress, just like how it worked back in the old days. There’s several different campaigns with hundreds of levels to die in, as well as an Endless mode that allows you to try and survive as long as possible for online glory.
Spelunker HD Deluxe loves your suffering so much that it allows you to bring friends along to maximize the amount of tears it can harvest! Grab some friends and you can attack the game in multiplayer, leaving corpses all over the caves. Yelling at pals as you fail together is a great time, and there’s both local and online cooperative options available.
Spelunker HD Deluxe looks great by default, but the real perk here is that it’s possible to roll the game back to classic graphics. I’ve loved this feature in pretty much every HD game that’s had it, from Monster World to Halo, and it’s just as welcome here. Likewise, the music and sound effects on offer here really nail that retro feel.
If you’re a fan of retro gaming, well, you ought to be playing Spelunker HD Deluxe already. Let’s double that recommendation if you’ve got some friends you can rope into the rope-climbing adventure. Getting killed by bat poop by yourself is plenty fun here, once you understand the very specific gameplay style that Spelunker offers, but dying as a group might be even better.