In recent years, the Spelunker series has made a resurgence to the delight of hardcore 2D gamers. Now that it's finally available for Switch, let's grab our gear, head down to unexplored caves, and check it out.
What is Spelunker Party?
Back in 2015, a free-to-play game known as Spelunker World released on PlayStation 4. As a huge fan of the series, I downloaded it and found myself playing for hours at a time. It had more linear levels which was mildly disappointing but the experience of jumping in with others online and gathering an assortment of loot was incredibly addictive. I could go on all day but instead, I highly recommend reading the article I wrote about it; Spelunker World: I'm Addicted and Here's Why. "Free-to-play done right" indeed! Spelunker Party is basically the same game with modifications (and it costs a good chunk of money). That means the addictive Spelunker gameplay is intact as well as all of the cuteness that fans are used to. Unfortunately, it also takes too many steps back so let's explore where Spelunker Party goes wrong. Keep in mind; I won't be going over the core game in detail here because I already covered it in my Spelunker World article so please read that if you'd like more information.
Seeing as Spelunker Party is a paid game, it removed all of the microtransactions that were featured in Spelunker World. However, these purchases were entirely optional and you could have completed Spelunker World without paying a cent if you're even a little skilled at spelunking. Honestly, I don't understand why gamers see microtransactions then immediately bash a game for having them. They were implemented perfectly in Spelunker World as they were completely optional and it was far from a pay-to-win game. I don't know about you but I'd rather play a game for free than pay for it. If that makes you feel guilty or something then you could always purchase an amount of content that's equivalent to how much you would have paid for the game.
Revamped loot system!
Spelunker World featured randomized loot whenever you collected it. I found that made completing levels much more enjoyable as you never knew what you would end up getting. Spelunker Party has fixed loot collectibles so there's no chance of acquiring a cool piece of equipment early on. Also, missing an item forces you to replay the stage until you manage to snag it if you want to collect everything. Overall, I much prefer the random loot of Spelunker World as it made the adventure all the more exciting.
Less is more!
Believe it or not, a lot of content from Spelunker World is actually missing in Spelunker Party. For starters, the redesigned world map isn't much worse but you don't get to see your party of spelunkers adorably march between stages anymore. More substantially, the whole cross-promotion event system is removed. Right now, there's a Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddesses Online event going on in Spelunker World and in the past, there was even Tomb Raider, Secret of Mana, and Final Fantasy. How awesome is that? These events made booting Spelunker World up an exciting moment and Spelunker Party is void of this feature entirely. What a shame.
Okay, prepare yourself for more disappointing news. I assume Spelunker Party is titled as such because it includes local multiplayer for up to four players (which is great). That being said, the online multiplayer (where Spelunker is most fun) takes way too many steps back. First, you can't play with a mix of local and online players which is a huge oversight. Next, the split screen is horribly implemented whether you play locally or online. When you played Spelunker World online, you had a large portion of the screen while you can see everyone else play in much smaller sections. It's divided equally here which makes no sense at all as you have to squint to see the gameplay properly. Also, you can only play with up to four simultaneous players while Spelunker World let you play with up to six.
Finally, the online is horribly laggy. Every time I would pick up an item, there would be a few second delay before registering that I actually collected it. What the heck is that all about? I've never seen that in any online game. As an additional note, the Spelunker World community is still lively and I could only find one other person to play with online here. Maybe it'll pick up soon but I highly doubt it.
As a huge fan of the series, I must say that Spelunker Party is one of the most disappointing video games that I've ever played. If you own a PlayStation 4 then do yourself a favour and download the free (and far superior) Spelunker World instead.
- + Classic Spelunker gameplay is as fun and adorable as ever
- + Includes local multiplayer
- - Missing content from Spelunker World / less rewarding loot system
- - Awful split screen and laggy online
- - Basically a worse version of a free game