Over a decade ago, Spelunker HD debuted and it completely wowed certain gamers so let's explore this brand new Deluxe iteration.
Back in 2010, I downloaded Spelunker HD as soon as it released for PS3 and it got its hooks into me right away. For the unfamiliar, you play as a little fellow who explores underground caverns in order to find treasures while trying not to bite the dust. Unfortunately, everything is out to get him and he's more fragile than he looks as anything from bat droppings to shallow holes can end his life in an instant. This high degree of challenge completely captivated me back in the day and after playing Spelunker HD Deluxe, I fell in love with it all over again. I remember playing lengthy online sessions with a handful of other random hardcore Spelunker fans while experts showed newbies where all the treasure was and everyone worked together to unlock doors, clear the way, and rescue anyone who needed help. To me, this is where the gameplay shines brightest and after 11 or so years have passed; I must say that it's as satisfying as ever.
The core gameplay of Spelunker HD Deluxe is simple as all you do is run and jump around stages while using an action button in combination with the D-pad to set down bombs to blow up rocks, send up flares to scare bats, and blow a fan forward to make ghosts disappear. Although this sounds easy, you'll quickly find out that you can't fall far down at all without losing a life and nearly everything can spell your demise whether you're too close to a bomb that you dropped or a geyser unexpectedly blasts you from below.
Even though this sounds frustrating and, of course, it can be at times; Spelunker is all about playing carefully, planning ahead, and remaining vigilant of your surroundings. If you can do that, it feels awesome to work past long stretches without getting snagged on anything. With that in mind, impatient gamers who aren't willing to learn the ropes will likely get irritated early on but if you give it a chance and persevere, you're sure to find plenty to love. Speaking of which, there are oodles of hidden treasures with the main collectible being mural pieces and uncovering those just feels awesome so there's much more to simply progressing to new levels.
Spelunker HD Deluxe includes everything that the 2010 release had and it features new content, too. On top of the classic level-based Adventure mode, you can also compete with folks, enjoy a more difficult Championship campaign, and challenge the constantly-scrolling procedurally-generated Infinite Cave NEO. Every single one of these modes (except for the multiplayer-only Competition mode) can be played solo or with a group of online or local players which is spectacular. Plus, there are online leaderboards if you're skilled enough to rank on those. Oh, and you can also continue from certain areas and swap the graphics to the classic 2D visuals if you want.
It's apparent that I absolutely love Spelunker HD Deluxe but it's definitely not for everyone. Those who will love it will love it a lot and almost everyone else will wonder what kind of substances those folks are on because it certainly isn't the sort of game that has mass appeal. Some will find it too dated and some will cower at the steep degree of difficulty but if you have an affinity for retro games and appreciate a good challenge then you'll thoroughly enjoy yourself as the hours tick away. To be fair, some scenarios are inarguably annoying such as when a ghost shows up while you're unable to fend it off for whatever reason. Those parts can suck an egg.
People like to call games the Dark Souls of whatever but Dark Souls is the Spelunker of action RPGs. With gratifying gameplay that constantly makes you stay on your toes, I'm very happy that this classic is back and it's more fully-featured than ever before.
- + Challenging gameplay that requires precision, planning ahead, and cautiousness
- + Great variety of modes and multiplayer
- + Super-rewarding collectibles
- - Less patient gamers will probably become quite annoyed early on
- - Some scenarios simply don't feel fair