If you don't know what Spelunky is then you need to just stop reading this and go here to download and play this wonderful game.
Okay now that you've done that or you've played Spelunky before we can continue. Spelunky is a 2D platformer done in the "RogueLike" style, made by Derek Yu. What is a roguelike you ask? It's a type of game where usually the game is entirely randomized at the start and when you die that's it. No other chances no extra lives, one life and then it's the end. It all started with an old game from 1980 called Rogue and then moved on to games like Nethack and Dwarf Fortress and more mainstream with the Diablo games and their hardcore/hell modes. I've of course played Diablo 1 and 2 to death and liked my trips into the hardcore mode but they always ended in death and me quiting. I've messed with Nethack and Dwarf Fortress a little bit but I've had a hard time getting in to them.
It was probably sometime last year when I first played Spelunky. After seeing some videos of it online I decided to try it out. After a few very quick deaths at the hands of an arrow trap, a spike pit or just straight falling to my death I kind of stopped playing it. This wasn't any real fault of the game I just had to many other games on my plate at the time to spend the needed time with it. Lately I've been without a main game to focus on other than Team Fortress 2 so I decided to give Spelunky another go. Well here I am about a week or so later with 250+ deaths and I finally made it to the end of the game. I know others have had way more deaths and have been probably trying way longer but I'm proud of my win. I did it without robbing a shop and without a jetpack or a shotgun. The last boss was a dangerous adrenaline filled battle and one of the best boss battles for me in recent gaming memory.
One thing I learned as I played and did some research on Spelunky is it's never the game's fault you die. Some games are cheap with cheap pitfalls and unfair deaths. Not Spelunky, if you die it's because you screwed up. It reminds me of Demon's Souls as that was a game where the cheap deaths were minimal if there at all. When you first start playing Spelunky you need to take it slow, watch your surroundings. You have to look out for the arrow traps, the spikes all the enemies out to get you. It's one of those things that's hard to really explain but if you spend any time with Spelunky you'll see what I mean. The game is winnable at the start every time it's just up to you the player to make it to the end.
The only thing about Spelunky's randomness that is a big negative is sometimes items you want to find can spawn off the map. One example and a small spoiler is in the first level. In one of the levels in the first area a Key and a gold chest will spawn. You need the key to open the chest and get the Udjat Eye an items needed to enter the City of Gold later in the game. On rare occasions either the key or the chest can spawn outside of the level and you will never be able to get to them. It only happens every now and then but it is kind of game breaking but, you can still beat the game if this happens you just can't make it to the City of Gold. In playing over 250 tries the happened to me maybe 3-4 times and none of those times did I make it far enough to even think about the City of Gold.
In the end though Spelunky is fantastic and needs to be played by more people. I know I'm preaching to the choir on this game as it's been around for awhile and I'm late to the party on playing it like crazy but here it is. I have finished it and I plan on playing it like crazy for the foreseeable future. There is still a City of Gold for me to find and I will find it!
Right now Spelunky is available on the PC at the link I posted above. It is also coming out to the XBLA sometime in the future but I have no idea when exactly. Which ever way you play it you need to it's great!