There's a Spelunky kill screen coming up...
November 10, 2013 1:45 PM   Subscribe

Last night over 500 people watched as Spelunky (previously: 1 2 3) player Bananasaurus Rex successfully completed the game's first solo eggplant run.

The updated version of Spelunky, released on Xbox last year and recently released on PC and Playstation, contained a mysterious and seemingly useless eggplant. It wasn't until the PC release that players were able to comb through the game's files and discover the eggplant's incredibly silly interaction with King Yama, the game's final boss. The problem? Getting the eggplant to Yama.

Spelunky is notoriously difficult, and the eggplant is very fragile. The PC stats show that less than 10% of players have beaten the regular game, and only 2.5% have beaten Hell, the extra world where King Yama is the final boss. Additionally, just getting to Hell requires a complicated series of steps which includes a step that should make it impossible for a solo player to carry the eggplant to Yama (outside some very specific and unlikely circumstances). A player named biohazardo63 completed a cooperative eggplant run several weeks ago.

However, the discovery of a glitch (seen at 39:20 in Bananasaurus' run) opened the door for a reliable method of getting the eggplant to Yama on one's own, and Bananasaurus is the first. He also holds the speedrun records for beating the regular game and Hell.

If you want to try out Spelunky, the original version is still available as freeware (Windows only).
posted by edeezy (132 comments total) 45 users marked this as a favorite

 
Everything I read about this game, especially the item interactions, make me want to play it so bad. Except I am awful at exactly these sorts of games so videos it is. Thanks for the FPP!
posted by griphus at 1:48 PM on November 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


There is an unofficial Mac version of the freeware original 1.1 version here. Also, Reddit has some instructions for using Wineskin on the new HD version here. Alternative Wineskin instructions here.
posted by kewb at 1:48 PM on November 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm not up to trying Hell yet, let alone eggplanting King Yama, but I've won 12 times so far, and am slowly gaining confidence. It is very nice, yes. And there are clever little Nethack (or general roguelike) references scattered throughout. The game is one of the few I can stand playing right now.
posted by JHarris at 1:53 PM on November 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


I skipped to the end of the Bananasaurus Rex video and watched the last 5 minutes or so. The guy has only 1 heart left while jumping on the chains and ropes with things swinging at him and knowing that one errant jump would mean demise...I couldn't breathe (even though I know he beats it). I couldn't imagine watching it live.

Fuck everything about this. I can barely get through the first 3 Mine levels.
posted by littlesq at 2:10 PM on November 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Spelunky has an... ending?
posted by Foci for Analysis at 2:11 PM on November 10, 2013 [9 favorites]


Can someone explain the glitch?
posted by Ad hominem at 2:43 PM on November 10, 2013


Can someone explain the glitch?

Normally, in order to get the Hedjet from the Idol, you need to die on the stage with the Ankh (From the Black Market), which will resurrect you inside the sealed Idol, with a door.

Looks like the glitch uses the ball-and-chain which comes from angering Kali to knock a hole in the stone idol, so that once Rex dies, they can get out of the Idol to retrieve the Eggplant.
posted by CrystalDave at 2:53 PM on November 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


Seems like a callback to the Eggplant Wizards in the Kid Icarus video games. Those guys are the sole reason I couldn't eat eggplant until I was an adult.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 3:01 PM on November 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


And there are clever little Nethack (or general roguelike) references scattered throughout.

The fact that nearly every move you make could potentially kill you in several hilarious ways was reference enough for me. Spelunky is terrific.
posted by Spatch at 3:19 PM on November 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Spelunky subreddit is one of the good parts of Reddit. Telefragging Yama or killing Yama wih the Crysknife are also amazing feats.
posted by Gary at 3:36 PM on November 10, 2013


That's pretty amazing. I've been getting incrementally better, and just finished a run where I did a poor job of digging Olmec a hole and got squashed as I tried to coax him into frying himself.
posted by codacorolla at 3:55 PM on November 10, 2013


The PC stats show that less than 10% of players have beaten the regular game, and only 2.5% have beaten Hell, the extra world where King Yama is the final boss.

Of course, those stats also show that ~15% of players have not beaten the tutorial.
posted by kafziel at 3:56 PM on November 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


For people who are stuck, the rope and bomb technique of robbing shops really improved my game. It's not the fastest or best way of robbing them, but it might be the safest. You don't always want to rob them too early, but having a jet pack and a shotgun can really improve your chances.
posted by Gary at 4:11 PM on November 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Of course, those stats also show that ~15% of players have not beaten the tutorial.

On the other hand, it also includes a lot of people who played the freeware version and XBLA version. In the Steam stats, a lot more people have beaten hell than played the game 1000 times, which I don't think would happen if everyone were coming in fresh.
posted by Gary at 4:17 PM on November 10, 2013


For people who are stuck, the rope and bomb technique yt of robbing shops really improved my game. It's not the fastest or best way of robbing them, but it might be the safest. You don't always want to rob them too early, but having a jet pack and a shotgun can really improve your chances.

I hadn't seen that trick before, and it seems to work fairly well... but... aren't all the other shop-keepers in the rest of the game now going to think that you're terrorist? How do you reliably kill all those guys? Or does this trick prevent all the rest of the shop keepers from getting angry at you?
posted by gkhan at 4:29 PM on November 10, 2013


I hadn't seen that trick before, and it seems to work fairly well... but... aren't all the other shop-keepers in the rest of the game now going to think that you're terrorist? How do you reliably kill all those guys?

They do stay mad at you, so you still need to make sure the items you get are worth it. You also get their dropped shotgun which helps a lot.

Generally, killing them in the mines is quite hard. Killing them in the later levels is less so because the environment often kills them for you. So my only other advice is to hold off (advice I often don't follow myself to my own peril). Derek Yu himself on the Game Design Round Table podcast suggests not killing them until the black market.
posted by Gary at 4:45 PM on November 10, 2013


man, hotline miami's music was so good.
posted by a birds at 5:00 PM on November 10, 2013 [8 favorites]


Here are some tips on the game. This is pretty serious SPOILERS, of course. It's not everything I have on the subject of Spelunky strategy but I don't want to overwhelm you:







1. First, some advice that also applies generally for roguelikes and other quasi-roguelikes. Spelunky is 16 levels long. Most individual traps in the game are actually pretty simple to defeat on their own, but in combination they get tricky. And with 16 levels of this between you and victory, you have to be careful. There are hundreds of enemies and traps but only one you, and you start with only 4 health. It can be fun just to bop around and do things, but if you want to win you must approach this game with care. All the advantages in the world won't help you if you land on spikes. (Except the Ankh, but honestly, if you need that to save you from spikes you're probably just going to land on them again.)

2. Spelunky's level generator works by first generating a path from the entrance to the exit and making sure that path can be navigated, then generated non-essential things in the other screens. But it's often those side screen that contain stuff you really want: crates, damsels, the locked chest, its key, and loot. Often, to get into those screens, you'll have to use up some of your resources.

Note: shops are always generated facing the essential path! There will never be a shop sealed away inside solid rock (however, sometimes traps will be placed that block the entrance, which sucks).

3. Your most important resource, by far, is bombs. You want lots of bombs. Not only do they make it easy to kill some tough enemies (especially if you have the glue) and let you get through solid rock to get to treasure and bypass/destroy difficult enemies and traps, but in level 16 you really want to have probably around 20 or so bombs. And the thing about bombs is there are no guaranteed sources in the game, although the Black Market has an excellent chance of having some. If the choice is between the Jetpack and bombs, if you have less than 12 bombs, get those.

4. On robbing shops: don't. Unless you're going for a high score, it isn't worth it; there's almost always plenty of money, if you're an avid collector of treasure, to buy what you need, provided you know what's really important. Not only does that mean shopkeepers won't be waiting for you at the end of levels, but it also means that any generated shops will have an inventory -- when you anger a shopkeeper, remaining shops will be generated empty. The shotgun you get from defeating shopkeepers is greatly overrated: spiked shoes work on most things very well, and there's no recoil, while keeping the shotgun means you have to juggle it with damsels and any mattock you find.

5. This is my opinion of the best items to buy, in order from most to least preferred (other than bombs if you have less than 30 or ropes if you have less than 5 and no other means of ascent):
Jetpack (most people's first wins probably come when finding an early jetpack)
Climbing Gloves (an excellent utility item, can substitute for the jetpack in many cases)
Compass (if you don't have either of the above, this is essential in the Ice Caves and very useful in the Jungle and Temple)
Bomb Glue (makes bombs much more useful)
Spike Shoes (very underrated generally, this helps a lot on ice and kills most enemies with a few good stomps -- it kills giant spiders surprisingly fast)
Mattock (the best of the hand-held items, when you get one you can use it in place of bombs for awhile and thus save your explosives for 4-4).
Cape (if you're floating down you don't die on spikes, and it can be useful in finding the exit in Ice Caves levels, especially if you also have Climbing Gloves, but generally not worth the price)
Spring Shoes (it is easy once you have them to overshoot jumps and land on spikes, but they're nice when you're used to them, far from essential though)
Shotgun (not essential, but situationally nice to have)
Throwing Mitt (never essential, and only really useful if you also have the Glue)
Ankh (having an extra life is nice, but in almost all cases you'll get more benefit with $50K out of the other goodies you'll find in the Black Market)
Parachute (a single use Cape, ugh)
Glasses (the Udjet Eye is better in almost all ways and is also free)

6. The Black Market is important enough to doing well in the game that I'm going to tell you how to find it. If you really don't want to know then skip the rest of this:
You need to open the locked chest in the mines with the key to get the Udjet Eye, which not only acts like the Glasses in letting you see things buried in walls but also flashes faster once you get near the buried entrance to the Black Market somewhere in the Jungle. It's important to find the Black Market because it is the best shot in the game at getting more bombs, which you really want for the last level, and has decent odds of other good items besides.
posted by JHarris at 5:20 PM on November 10, 2013 [11 favorites]


Not only does that mean shopkeepers won't be waiting for you at the end of levels, but it also means that any generated shops will have an inventory -- when you anger a shopkeeper, remaining shops will be generated empty.

This is not true. There will be shops with items in them later. The shopkeeper will have a shotgun and shoot you on sight, but if you can lure him out (or get a clear shot) then you can still take the items.
posted by Gary at 5:30 PM on November 10, 2013


As for whether or not you should kill them, I'm not sure. I have some wins but have never gotten the big money achievement or a special win, so any advice I give should be taken with a grain of salt. I will say taking out the black market and getting all those items is certainly very fun.
posted by Gary at 5:34 PM on November 10, 2013


So that thing he does at the very beginning, not picking up the gems and making the ghost run through them, that makes the gems worth more?
posted by juv3nal at 5:43 PM on November 10, 2013


holy shit i had no idea how intense the eggplant run would get by the end. so glad i watched that all the way through. bananasaurus rex is a fuckin champion
posted by a birds at 5:44 PM on November 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yup. Turns them into diamonds.
posted by CrystalDave at 5:45 PM on November 10, 2013


Thanks to the Wineskin instructions mentioned earlier, I've been having a blast with Spelunky for the past week. What impresses me the most so far is how there are several different play styles that are "baked in" to the design. For example, you can rob a shop for an early super-strong character, but you have to deal with angry shopkeepers for the rest of the game. You can buy power up items to help you in later levels at the expense of getting the Ankh, or you can risk it and attack the big monsters as you explore the dungeons. You can arm yourself with a powerful sword or gun, but you lose the ability to carry other important items — most importantly, health. Some of the tunnel man missions force you to completely rethink your strategy, such as getting the key from level 1 to level 3. (Or the eggplant, for that matter.) And getting to the true final boss relies on a Zelda-esque "trading game" that effectively forces you to start from level 1 and make the toughest possible decisions. (I've been able to accidentally find the black market from the first tunnel, but I'm not sure if it's possible to beat-beat the game from there.)

All this with essentially the same set of levels! In most games, each of these play styles would be its own specific mode or level. Here, whenever I make a decision about how to play the next round, I feel like my choices are reinforced and balanced by the complex web of interactions that the game is built on. I guess you could call it meta-design? Really fascinating.
posted by archagon at 6:06 PM on November 10, 2013 [7 favorites]


This is not true. There will be shops with items in them later. The shopkeeper will have a shotgun and shoot you on sight, but if you can lure him out (or get a clear shot) then you can still take the items.

Hmm... it is true, I haven't tried robbing shops a huge amount, I could be wrong about this. Thanks for the correction!
posted by JHarris at 6:18 PM on November 10, 2013


What impresses me the most so far is how there are several different play styles that are "baked in" to the design.

It was this game that made everything click for me about what people like about roguelikes. The procedural levels and extreme difficulty level get all the attention, but they are only there to make your decisions matter. In Mario games, most enemies are only there to kill you, except for Koopa Troopas (the turtles) that can also be thrown to take out bad guys and hit bricks. In Spelunky, the opposite is true and most items and characters have more than one use or interactions between them.

A rope is there for climbing, but it can also be shot downwards to set off arrow traps. The combination of bombs, glue and the pitcher's mitt are one of the most effective weapons in the game. My best daily challenge happened when I didn't manage to get the Udgat Eye, but an orange frog blew up and found the black market accidentally. This is a spoiler, but this is an emergent property that was a surprise to the lead programmer.

It's fitting that this eggplant run was made possible by using the punishment from an altar (ball and chain), when most of the time you want the rewards from the altar.

(I don't mean to hog this thread, but this is my favourite game ever. Something finally good enough to be better than Super Mario 3 nostalgia)
posted by Gary at 7:01 PM on November 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


It's pretty great. It reminds me of Legend of Grimrock, where you have a simple set of gameplay mechanics that all click together to make an amazing experience with a pretty tried and true formula and a low budget.
posted by codacorolla at 7:24 PM on November 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


It is okay Gary! If you have something to say, and we all find it interesting, then say it! And I assure you, as someone who's played a lot of this game himself and also admires it, your comments are interesting.
posted by JHarris at 7:26 PM on November 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Okay I've put off playing Spelunky for no good reason, but I've got to try it after reading this thread.
posted by meta87 at 7:33 PM on November 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Another reason I don't generally bother with robbing shops is, even on the Black Market, most of the items aren't really that useful. You can get a huge number of bombs there, true, but the thing is you only need so many bombs. And you don't really need that many items to win, if you get the Climbing Gloves (it's rare I don't find some), the Bomb Glue (always left behind when a giant spider dies), and enough bombs and ropes, you can make it. And if you get a Compass, I could do without the climbing gloves so long as I have enough ropes.

In exchange for all those items, you make finishing levels much harder the whole rest of the game. For the most part I agree with Spelunky's design decisions, but I do question the permanent antipathy of the shopkeeper's union.
posted by JHarris at 7:46 PM on November 10, 2013


Here is an interactive breakdown of Spelunky's level generation.
posted by Nossidge at 8:04 PM on November 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


The freeware game and the release version are different in one minor detail that actually has a big effect on how I play. In the free version, restarting means pressing F2 (IIRC) and immediately being dropped back in. It was so quick that I'd do it constantly, to the point where pressing F2 when something bad happened, even getting hit for -1HP, became a physical reflex. I didn't care about any individual run very much until it started to seem exceptional in some way. I tried to do silly, unsafe moves for no reason. I robbed every shop I saw. Now I don't rob anything and play way more carefully in general, because it takes 6 or 7 seconds to restart instead of .25. Shouldn't make a difference, but I'm convinced it does.
posted by a birds at 8:11 PM on November 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I dunno, after seeing it first mentioned in Anita Sarkeesian's videos, I kind of feel icky about heaving around the unconscious damsels in Spelunky. It looks like a great game and all, but that one thing really sticks out to me.
posted by Nomyte at 8:12 PM on November 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, and the Daily Challenge thing is the single best new feature for the same reason: it forces me to actually pay attention and play carefully for at least one run of the day. I would have bought a game that was just the freeware version with that functionality pasted in, seriously.

Nomyte: Yeah. The thing that initially got me all enthusiastic about buying Spelunky was when I saw someone streaming it and rescuing cute pugs instead of damsels--I was like, yes! Derek Yu grew up and I can be excited to give him money! The damsels turned out to still be around (and to be the default, IIRC), except now you can change them into pugs or a man in the damsel's dress (which doesn't sit well with me either, actually). Not sure if Sarkeesian's vids were about the freeware version or the paid one, so I dunno if she mentioned that, but yeah, it didn't really get better. That, and then seeing that he was involved in that "we made MTG-style cards of real people in the indie games scene" thing that turned out to be kind of awful... disappointing, I guess. Does leave a slightly sour taste in my mouth around a game I'd otherwise be 100% enthusiastic about.
posted by a birds at 8:28 PM on November 10, 2013


I kind of feel icky about heaving around the unconscious damsels in Spelunky.

Fortunately you have the option to change the game so you're rescuing dudes or puppies instead of damsels (or a random selection of all three).
posted by straight at 8:28 PM on November 10, 2013


It looks like a great game and all, but that one thing really sticks out to me.

Derek and Anita have exchanged tweets about the damsel issue and she still likes the game even if she does not like that mechanic. I'm not sure adding optional male and dog damsels is the perfect solution, but it's a good step.

Or maybe the Penny Arcade guys have just set the bar really really low for this sort of thing.
posted by Gary at 8:30 PM on November 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


... a man in the damsel's dress (which doesn't sit well with me either, actually)....

What? The male damsel isn't wearing a dress. He's wearing a bowtie and a Speedo-type thing. I took the outfit to be a reference to Chippendales dancers.
posted by IAmUnaware at 8:33 PM on November 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


oh, holy shit, so he is. wtf? i guess my brain catches color similarity and stops functioning.
posted by a birds at 8:37 PM on November 10, 2013


I hesitate to bring this up, because Spelunky is a terrific game that has many design virtues that others have ignored/not considered, and I'd hate it to become a symbol for this, but I think the conversation demands I mention it....

You can also sacrifice the damsel/damsel analogues on the altars to Kali throughout the game for goodies. Not just them, mind you, but any enemy that can be killed and leave a corpse, or knocked unconscious, it's a case where a general mechanic has what could be a problematic specific case.

Also I hear that, in the freeware version, if you smack the damsel in a kissing parlor, the shopkeeper gets mad and says "Hey, only I'm allowed to do that" or some version. That can still happen in the commercial version, but the message is different.

I think that the terrible nature of most gaming culture ("PWNED I RAEPD YOU LOL") has made people very sensitive to that kind of thing. I think this is really a case where it's just a game, realism isn't really a thing in Spelunky, and the mechanics mean more than the transitory representations for those mechanics (which is why the game still works whether it's a damsel/hunk/pug).

But I do get a bit of a twinge at it, and I try not use damsels for that purpose even if it's not an optimal choice for my current game. I think there are things that, if you reject them because of some problematic thing about them, you're doing yourself a disservice. (This was my thinking in Lovecraft threads, and the recent Martin Luther thread too.)
posted by JHarris at 8:41 PM on November 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


On a lighter note, if you fall too far or get knocked unconscious and land on the altar you can sacrifice yourself to Kali, which is one of the more fist-shakingly angry (and funny) ways to get killed.
posted by edeezy at 9:19 PM on November 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


I somehow missed the fact that Derek Yu made Spelunky. I think that his Aquaria is head and shoulders above many games with respect to how it treats its female hero, and Wikipedia makes his other freeware stuff sound pretty progressive too. It's just kind of disappointing to see this damsel stuff pop up in Spelunky. I don't think adding other things you can heave around unconscious makes the damsel thing any better. I just find it sad that it's so easy, to the point of laziness, to design this kind of thing into a game, like an offensive epithet that rolls off your tongue without thinking.
posted by Nomyte at 9:20 PM on November 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


The procedural levels and extreme difficulty level get all the attention, but they are only there to make your decisions matter.

This is very true, and enabling meaningful choices is a big deal in roguelike dev circles. It's one of the things that this genre of game excels at and pioneers for other genres.

Another of the primary draws for many modern roguelikes (and the one that best describes why I play them) is a very closely related concept: that you must adapt as circumstances dictate rather than being able to count from the beginning on being able to achieve goal X. It's an exhilarating experience to wash away your attachment to certain builds, particular tactics, comfortable amounts of health, and to accept yourself as you are. There's no room for regret or unchecked ambition; a good player has to operate on the cocaine flecked bleeding edge of now.
posted by tychotesla at 9:20 PM on November 10, 2013 [7 favorites]


Well if you have it set to pugs, then it's just straightforward, unproblematic animal sacrifice. Also, in multiplayer you can sacrifice other players for the "common good".
posted by Pyry at 9:20 PM on November 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yup, some of those Magic cards are pretty awful. For what it's worth, Derek Yu did apologize for them (somewhat curtly, though whether that's just because it was Twitter is unclear). I think his Twitter interactions with not only Sarkeesian herself but the brodudes attempting to take him to task for apologizing in the first place convinced me that his heart is in the right place. But it's possible that Spelunky is such a great game that I just really wanted to be convinced.

Anyway, but the derring-do in this run is insane. There's the standard platforming proficiency far beyond anything I could imagine attaining myself, of course, but beyond that though: ghost runs on every level of the mines; the juggling of the eggplant and, later, the eggplant and the robot and the staff (I didn't understand why he had to go to the mothership until I realized he needed the robot); and then just making it through Hell without totally losing his shit. I would have had to turn it off in the temple from sheer stress. Amazing.
posted by valrus at 10:09 PM on November 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Sorry, I should amend that first paragraph. The brodudes weren't even getting at Yu for apologizing, because he didn't apologize. It was for... what? Responding graciously instead of with spittle-flecked invective about Internet feminists, I guess. Ugh. Gamer culture.

Anyway, for any forlorn Mac users in this thread, I can confirm that the Wineskin method linked above works. I know because I paid $15 for Spelunky HD just to try it, without even knowing whether it would actually work or not, because the original lo-fi version was already one of the best games ever.

I've beaten it several times and gotten to Hell:3 once. Someday I'll take down Yama. SOMEDAY
posted by valrus at 10:25 PM on November 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Incidentally, if anyone is interested in other accessible Roguelikes here's a PSA for you:

FTL is, like Spelunky, a very good and pretty popular Roguelite ("-lite" not because it's easy, but because it isn't as much like Rogue as other Roguelikes). It follows an encounter based space-faring format. Watch a youtube video before buying it.

Red Rogue is a (free) casual platformer Roguelite, similar to but totally different from Spelunky. Play it right now in your browser at Newgrounds or Kongregate. Or download it from the website to play offline.

If you want to play the more traditional format of Roguelike you have a ton of excellent options in a very large variety of formats. Most of the classic are entirely free, although more and more there are great commercial games made for a larger audience like Dungeons of Dredmore or Roguelike Legacy (roguelite, now that I think of it) and so on. In terms of accessibility to new players while still being true to the legacy of Rogue there's one in particular which stands out:

Brogue (free) is a contradiction. On the one hand it made a name for itself as an incredibly simple, intuitive, stripped down, user friendly, atmospheric and surprisingly visually pleasing roguelike. On the other hand it's an innovative and complex roguelike that set a shockingly rigorous new bar for many aspects of roguelike design philosophy. Easy to get into, hard to win.

Beyond that... there's a lot of free and excellent stuff out there. For example: If you're into simulations of Finnish Iron Age man vs. nature survival you can play Unreal World, if you wonder how you'd handle in the zombie apocalypse there's CataclysmDDA, play Hydra Slayer if you like slaying Hydra and math puzzles, for Tolkien role players you play Sil to retrace the steps of Beren and Lúthien by infiltrating the iron halls of Angband to steal an actual Silmaril from the very crown of Melkor, DCSS is a popular very well balanced and focused dungeon crawler with unique classes, Elona is a popular Japanese open world, Dwarf Fortress is a popular drunken Dwarf disaster simulator, DoomRL is Doom the Roguelike, play ToME for wonderful classes such as Paradox Mages and Chronomancers, and so on.
posted by tychotesla at 11:15 PM on November 10, 2013 [21 favorites]


In exchange for all those items, you make finishing levels much harder the whole rest of the game. For the most part I agree with Spelunky's design decisions, but I do question the permanent antipathy of the shopkeeper's union.

In the ice caverns, once the shopkeepers are activated they jump around wildly and usually fall to their death. I only actually see them at the end maybe 30% of the time, and just need to throw something at them to set them off. The temple is harder, but there are often tiki traps set up right at the exit that take care of them for you. So killing them in the black market is worth the risk, in my opinion. That's not to say they aren't dangerous, but everything is dangerous in Spelunky.

If someone is a beginner trying for their first win, then your advice of leaving them alone may be the best course of action. I don't mean that in a negative way. I was that beginner for a long time; scared of bats flying at awkward angles, let alone shopkeepers.
posted by Gary at 12:01 AM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I should also mention that if you are going for a hell run, you reach two points where you have to give up your current carried item. So having a guaranteed shopkeeper at the end of a level means you can blow him up and take his shotgun. So making them angry can be seen as a positive if you like having the shotgun in the later levels. It's another risk/reward decision that makes this game great.
posted by Gary at 12:23 AM on November 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


I can vouch for Red Rogue and Brogue. If I still had an outlet for @Play, I'd be-- wait, I think I did write up Red Rogue before it ended. Or I might be thinking about Roguelike Radio.

Okay, some more Spelunky strategy, more advanced this time, again this is SPOILERS:




7. I try to get everything I can out of a level before leaving it, without undue resource expenditure. This takes time, so I keep the Shift key held down nearly the whole game, so I can get more done. I have never died to the ghost in hundreds of games, but there have been some close calls. One thing that helps a lot in judging how much time you have left is the background music. If you don't pause, then the background music will cycle from the start of the level, and always hit the same place in the tune when the ghost appears. With practice, you can use this to track how much time you have left to collect treasures from the level.

8. There are cases where the whip is the better weapon for a situation, but I tend not to like it, and will often stomp an enemy instead if possible. But when you do use it, you should know that right when you use it, it also attacks behind and a little above your character. There are cases where, when climbing up a ladder, you can use this to hit an enemy on top of the ladder from a position of safety. But it also means, if you're overlapping a damsel, you'll probably hit her too.

9. It's not particularly gallant, but damsels make pretty good throwing weapons. There are times when you'll have no way to set off an arrow trap other than throwing the poor girl off the ledge to set it off. It's best not to use this if any other options are available, because damsels (or whatever alternative graphic you've set in options) only have three hearts of health, and arrows do two damage. If the damsel ends up dying, you can still use the corpse to set off traps (you also can with cavemen, if available), but of course you won't get a heart at the end of the level. You can also pick up the "critters" (mice, tiny frogs, penguins, grasshoppers) you can sometimes find in a level and use them to set off arrow traps. And if you're carrying a live creature when falling past the trap, it will take the arrow hit instead of you, which, I believe, includes critters, no matter how tiny they might be.

10. Sometimes something will set off an arrow trap before you get to it, and you won't actually need to worry about springing it. But the trap looks the same whether it's sprung or not. To tell if it's still dangerous, look for an arrow laying in front of it. And it doesn't come up much, but if for some reason you want an arrow but don't want to spring the trap, you can bomb or mattock it; the arrow will be left behind. (BTW, the freeware version has a couple of items the commercial version lacks, and one of these is a bow you can use to shoot arrows from.)

11. Why did I go on about bombs being important above? It's not just because they make the boss in 4-4 much easier. If you use bombs right, the game becomes much easier, because they let you tackle each level in safer ways. You don't have to pass under that giant spider, you can go around (or better yet, throw a bomb into its web and kill it for glue). You can avoid all kinds of things that way: pass behind arrow traps, get around lava pits, avoid all kinds of enemies. Just make sure not to bomb yourself (easy to avoid with practice), and for the love of Glob, don't destroy any part of a shop or even carry a lit bomb into a store or the shopkeeper will think you're with Al-Qaeda.

12. You cannot stomp anything in the water. But if you bomb the edge of a lake, it'll destroy all the water from the point of the bomb up. All that matters is that you destroy one block touching water. Furthermore, piranha in the water that disappears instantly die! If you can drop a bomb into the lake so it lands on the very bottom, it'll empty the whole lake. If you can't do that, maybe you can dip into the lake for a split second then jump back out again, to lure the piranha near the surface, so they'll be easier to kill this way. Note 1: although there's no graphic change when it happens, this works with the skeleton fish in Restless Dead levels too. Note 2: However, this doesn't work in the huge lake at the bottom of Running Water levels. (BTW, that lake isn't bottomless, and there's treasure at the bottom of it, but for most people it's probably more trouble than it's worth.)
posted by JHarris at 12:46 AM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


If someone is a beginner trying for their first win, then your advice of leaving them alone may be the best course of action. I don't mean that in a negative way. I was that beginner for a long time; scared of bats flying at awkward angles, let alone shopkeepers.

My advice here is mostly intended for newcomers. Experts can figure these things out for themselves (and may indeed find different answers than we would).

I stick by my determination of permanent shopkeeper anger, but I do think, if you anger them once, it should be a while before they stop trying to kill you, and they should take measures to ensure it doesn't happen again in the same game.

I mentioned above Spelunky contains Nethack references. Here are the ones I can name off the top of my head, only counting direct ones:

- The shopkeeper system, of course, is probably the biggest. To my knowledge no game did shops in such a manner before Hack, and it's gone on to influence many games that way.
- In the Worm special level you can find a Crysknife. (Which is itself a reference to Dune!)
- There's going through Hell, of course. Also while there you can fight Vlad the Impaler!
- The Black Market is a long-standing variant addition to Nethack. Nethack+ was the first version, I believe, to make it part of the game, but it's more known now as part of SLASH'EM.
- In addition to the damsels in Hell, you can find look-alike succubi....
posted by JHarris at 12:54 AM on November 11, 2013


One more thing -- if Spelunky isn't to your liking, the full version of Desktop Dungeons has finally became available on Steam.
posted by JHarris at 12:58 AM on November 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


JHarris is giving some great general advice. There's a few good situational tips in this gif guide (from this reddit thread). There's also some really advanced tricks in there. Knowing that a cape can glide you down onto spikes is useful, as is understanding how to avoid fall damage. Knowing you can whip arrow traps is great in theory but I'm not sure I'd want to risk trying it.
posted by Gary at 1:14 AM on November 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm finding the controls on spelunky kind of frustrating.

Red Rogue is brilliant and I wish I could play it again for the first time.
posted by sebastienbailard at 1:18 AM on November 11, 2013


Oh, and if you aren't the type who cares about spoilers, the Spelunky Wiki is a great resource.
posted by Gary at 1:34 AM on November 11, 2013


On the GIFs:

My favorite way to avoid arrow traps is falling straight down past them right at the outer edge of their range, they'll just miss you.

Stomping (with spiked shoes) is my favorite way to kill giant spiders and queen bees. (Killing the queen bee leaves behind Royal Jelly, which gives you 4 hearts! And of course beehives, killer bees and royal jelly are all another Nethack reference.) I do have to admit, I didn't know about a few of the things in the GIFs.

Okay, finally getting around to watching it --

Yeah, he had severe resource management problems that game, including going down to two bombs against Olmec and having to make it through Hell with a single bag of three more. I'm glad he found a way to get rid of the ball and chain permanently.

The end of the video is ludicrously tense.
posted by JHarris at 2:42 AM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, the situation that's initiated about here (after five minutes of stressing about the situation and scoping it out) and climaxes as he has to run past the ghost 20 seconds later had me do the silent scream.
posted by tychotesla at 3:28 AM on November 11, 2013


I can confidently say that in a life time of playing video games, I have never been as bad at any of them I was at Spelunky.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:04 AM on November 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Has anyone given Rogue Legacy a try? I've been curious about that one. On paper it looks great: a cross between Spelunky and a Metroidvania, with a crazy genetic inheritance system.
posted by naju at 7:03 AM on November 11, 2013


I really hate Rogue Legacy. Maybe I'm not very good at it (the really awkward keyboard controls definitely don't help with that), but the whole thing felt way too grindy and unlike Spelunky where the level generation actually makes interesting and novel combinations, the combination of the flat and boring graphics along with the really generic setting and boring level designs made each run through the castle feel like a chore.

Combat is also boring, and the inheritance system never becomes anything other than an irritating gimmick. Basically it's all of the bad parts of a roguelike, all of the bad parts of a metroidvania and all of the bad parts of an action RPG.

Rogue Legacy is a bad game for all of the reasons that Spelunky is a great one.
posted by codacorolla at 7:21 AM on November 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


Ouch. Good to know, I would've spent money on it!
posted by naju at 7:51 AM on November 11, 2013


I love this damn game so much. It's a joy to play, and a joy to watch. I get why the damsel thing is perhaps problematic, but people that don't play with it set to 100% pugs are weird and I don't understand their life choices.

I can't recall at the moment the furthest I've gotten Temple 2, I think? I've yet to successfully beat Olmec much less make it to Hell. It's still fun. While I own the PC version, I tend to play the xbox one more just for convenience's sake (no rebooting or wineskin shenanigans needed). My current goal actually isn't even to finally win, it's to get to the haunted castle level, which I still have somehow remained unspoiled for (beyond knowing it exists).

The interactions between all the game's various mechanics is just too much fun to mess around with.

I can remember seeing youtubes of someone cheating their way to Yama to try to the eggplant trick. That someone finally managed to pull it off in real play is crazy.
posted by sparkletone at 8:50 AM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


One of my favorite Spelunky players is a streamer who goes by BaerTaffy. He plays other games as well (I believe he's currently working on Dishonered when not playing Spelunky), but the most fun I've had watching his stream is when he's doing Spelunky Death Roulette, where viewers place bets with fake money on how the streamer will meet their demise.

He dies to shopkeepers a lot, but also finishes runs with some regularity.
posted by sparkletone at 9:15 AM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think my opinion on Rogue Legacy is probably in the minority, so if you're interested it might be worth buying at 15 dollars, or waiting for a Steam sale, where I believe it's gone as low as 5.
posted by codacorolla at 9:37 AM on November 11, 2013


I think "grindy" explains Rogue Legacy perfectly. Your character is really underpowered and you play (and die) a lot trying to buy upgrades, not get much better yourself. In Spelunky when I die it usually feels like my own fault, in Rogue Legacy it feels like I died because I didn't buy the better armour or next ability yet.

The best way I can describe it is that it feels like playing a "freemium" iOS game. All the challenge feels artificial and you spend all your time chasing ever increasing costs for upgrades. To be clear, there are no in app purchases, but the gameplay felt the same to me.
posted by Gary at 10:51 AM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Stomping (with spiked shoes) is my favorite way to kill giant spiders and queen bees. (Killing the queen bee leaves behind Royal Jelly, which gives you 4 hearts!

The very first time I encountered bees was in a dark level, and I had dropped the torch where I couldn't recover it. I got to where I had to jump off a ledge where I couldn't see what was below and landed on top of some bees. There was this confusing panic of getting hit by bees, stomping on bees and bouncing several times off them and one bee I bounced on over and over but wouldn't die. I thought sure I was dead, but I ended the encounter with more hearts than I'd started with and was very confused about how that could have happened.
posted by straight at 11:12 AM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Bees are one of those things where I avoided them for the longest time because I was risk averse to losing any health, realized how great the reward was for attacking the hive, and now it's pretty trivial to the point where I'm excited when I find a hive on a level. All of the side challenges seem to have the same progression of fear to utility, which is another fun thing about the game.
posted by codacorolla at 11:45 AM on November 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


> Has anyone given Rogue Legacy a try? I've been curious about that one. On paper it looks great: a cross between Spelunky and a Metroidvania, with a crazy genetic inheritance system.

A lot of people really love Rogue Legacy, even going as far as to say it's the next evolution of the Spelunky formula. From my brief foray into it, I found it fun, but it definitely seems to be missing the complex interactions so abundant in Spelunky. It's much more of a bog-standard hack-and-slash platformer with procedurally generated levels.

You can try the demo here, by the way.
posted by archagon at 12:08 PM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


This thread just turned up on Tiny Cartridge!
posted by griphus at 1:25 PM on November 11, 2013


Uh guys, I was about to buy Rogue Legacy on offer (Humble Store). Anyone have an opinion on Don't Starve?
posted by ersatz at 3:12 PM on November 11, 2013


Yo, FTL Advanced Edition.

I like don't starve but the nonstop survival treadmill is pretty nerve wracking though. I feel like you have to eat your own weight in food every day to make you feel constantly on the brink of disaster.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:50 PM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ouch. Tried the Rogue Legacy Demo. Does the character always make that squeaking armor noise when walking? That bothers me like nails on a blackboard.
posted by straight at 3:59 PM on November 11, 2013


Yo, FTL Advanced Edition.

Nice!

Speaking of meaningful choices in Roguelikes, [--MINOR SPOILERS--] I really hope they remove the AI from the boss or give it some specific weakness. It kind of pissed me off a little that there are interesting and difficult strategies you can use for the whole game that are retroactively made shitty because the final boss shrugs them off. I don't understand that design decision.
posted by tychotesla at 4:16 PM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'm not a huge fan of Olmec. Although, there is an interesting design aspect there in the way that rope is relatively low use throughout the game until you get there, at which point it becomes much, much more useful. I would say Olmec is more like a resource check that has a skill component. I've only ever beaten Olmec by digging a hole, and never succeeded in bowsering him.
posted by codacorolla at 5:33 PM on November 11, 2013


I thought tychotelsa was referring to FTL, but it's interesting that it does apply to both games. My frustration with Olmec was mostly due to the fact that I kept trying to beat him from the temple shortcut. Practicing the temple was very useful, but you end up at Olmec with your ropes and maybe a couple bombs. Basically, this means you have to learn a speedrun takedown method which is a lot harder than it looks.

If you play the game from the beginning and get to Olmec, there's a much better chance you'll either have enough bombs or the climbing gloves/jetpack and can explore the area above him and hope you find enough bombs up there.

For a game that generally lets you pick your playstyle and actually play kind of stealthily / passively, it's a shame you get funneled through the same ending. This applies to both games.

I would still recommend both games and am hoping the FTL iPad port is good. It seems like a natural fit for a tablet.
posted by Gary at 5:55 PM on November 11, 2013


Making my own platforming roguelite/like is one of those things that I've always vaguely schemed of doing, to the extent that I have a few pages of notes. The chances of it ever happening, given that I only have some art skills, are exceedingly slim though. :/ But I can dream.

Preliminary plans have you playing a tribe on the lip of a semi-dormant volcano, tasked by an empire to pave the way for it to gain control of the many tribes living through the caldera/lava tubes. As you descend you meet progressively more nomadic tribes and experience mechanics that have you tracing in reverse the decisions which make agricultural/measured society dominate nomadic/unmeasured society.

For example you may start with the Empire's mass produced and interchangable gear, and as you descend start having to make decisions about whether to switch from that to more context specific but rare gear.

(also I wanted to see if I could make a workable roguelike for the blind, just because it sounds awesome)
posted by tychotesla at 7:51 PM on November 11, 2013 [8 favorites]


I want to write a roguelike based on the Cyberspace from Neuromancer. Mobs are computers encountered in cyberspace. It would be simple to just reskin a standard roguelike it so sword is now trojan 1.0 etc, but I want to put in some kind of scripting. Maybe I'll have really minimal VMs like the DCPU-16.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:08 PM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


A lot of people really love Rogue Legacy, even going as far as to say it's the next evolution of the Spelunky formula. From my brief foray into it, I found it fun, but it definitely seems to be missing the complex interactions so abundant in Spelunky. It's much more of a bog-standard hack-and-slash platformer with procedurally generated levels.

I don't love it to the extreme lengths, but I will say I really enjoyed my first time through Rogue Legacy and think that it's got a lot of merits as its own thing, even if I agree at least in part with some of the criticism upthread.

For one thing, it is a bit grindy, but it's not solely grind-and-spend stuff; I was far, far better at the game by the time I beat it than I was when I started, in terms of my understanding of the overall structure of the thing, enemy patterns, combat tactics, run planning, item interactions, etc. There's a lot of player improvement in there.

Another thing it is, though, is much more a pure combat platformer than Spelunky is, so the comparisons there are sort of unfair to both games even though they're understandable since Spelunky has made such a splash on that front. You will not succeed at Spelunky unless you can manage a bit of twitch, but for all that the twitch stuff in Spelunky is generally very punctuated where you need to be able to pull off a move, and then you can think, or maybe a couple of moves in a tight situation. Rogue Legacy is much more of a room-level deal; you often can't really rest in the middle of a room and just think, you need to be ready to move from baddie to baddie fluidly and really kill a bunch of things with reasonable confidence.

It's a platformer with some puzzle elements, not a puzzle game wearing platforming pants. It is at a gameplay level primarily about nailing down the combat, working the angles against the enemies based on their movement and attack patterns and the geography of the given room; it's more like Binding of Isaac than it is like Spelunky, in that respect.

I'd really love to see a Rogue Legacy 2 that delivers on more of the roguelike possibilities that RL flirts with but doesn't really deliver on; the inheritance thing is a big dud, for sure, compared to what might have been an interesting metagaming thing with choosing a character you don't prefer now to set up a bit of a Kwizatz Haderach down the road, and about half the genetic traits in the game are more joke/annoyance than they are an interesting twist on the gameplay, so I'd love to see those refined/reworked as well. And some more complicated geographic metapuzzling with the layout of the castle and of puzzle rooms would add some more depth and replay as well.

Basically Rogue Legacy is very much its own thing, and if you're up for some time spent getting good at combat and like a fairly light procedural approach to a Castlevania sort of thing, I think it's actually a really good time regardless of where it fell short of the possibility of some of its systems. It's just not a spiritual successor to Spelunky and expecting it to be is probably a solid recipe for disappointment.
posted by cortex at 12:45 PM on November 12, 2013 [4 favorites]




I've ascended twice over the past 3 days, despite having ascended 3 times since the game was released. I'm chalking it up to inspiration from the eggplant run.
posted by codacorolla at 6:29 PM on November 13, 2013


sparkletone, that's a pretty terrific bit of exploit right there. First, discovering that the parts of King Yama's body can be picked up and tossed into the lava. Also dropping his head (which is apparently immune to gravity) directly in front of the spikes.

Oh, and there's also the rampant Kapala abuse in the earlier parts of the game giving him 64 hearts by the end, which, combined with the lava immunity from Vlad's Amulet, means he himself has the most health of anything in that room. He actually gets hit by the tiki spikes himself, but it "only" does 4 damage! The only thing there with a realistic chance of killing him are spiked floors, which instakill regardless of health.

But these are the kind of tricks the most knowledgable Nethack players pull off in their games too, to do things like permanently turning into a Black Dragon, winning with MAXINT-1 points, or taming Pestilence. They are tricks of such a caliber that, instead of seeming like flaws in the game, they are further tributes to its greatness. (Well, except the MAXINT-1 thing. That bug has wrecked alt.org's Nethack scoreboard for years, where the top 22 scores are all 2,147,483,647, including 13 by the same person.)
posted by JHarris at 1:58 PM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Okay, if I understand the eggplant run properly, Bananasaurus used the ball and chain to break up the statue head so that he could escape there when he died in order to get the eggplant before leaving.

According to a wiki I found, using the ESC+F1 suicide keypress would allow him to keep whatever he was holding when he died. Surely that would mean that he could use that to keep the eggplant without bothering with upsetting Kali?
posted by YAMWAK at 5:06 AM on November 15, 2013


According to a wiki I found, using the ESC+F1 suicide keypress would allow him to keep whatever he was holding when he died.

The wiki says it only applies to classic Spelunky, which is the freeware version released in 2008. I assume that exploit has been fixed in the new version.
posted by Gary at 9:09 AM on November 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, and there's also the rampant Kapala abuse in the earlier parts of the game giving him 64 hearts by the end

Yeah. The first time I saw someone using mummy vomit to get 99 hearts was a very o_O moment.

Bananasaurus was going for some other exotic Yama kills last night (one involving the shield you can get in the haunted castle level primarily) and not having much luck during the part of the broadcast I watched.
posted by sparkletone at 9:54 AM on November 15, 2013


Apparently the ghost can be killed, he just has 9999 health. Is a legitimate ghost kill the next (amazingly tedious) Spelunky challenge?
posted by edeezy at 11:05 PM on November 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


It depends on what methods will actually damage the ghost. It can't be an accident that he chose to test ghost death using flying saucer laser blasts, which probably persisted as a source of ghost damage specifically because it's annoying to use them as an actual source of harm to enemies. Good luck keeping a ghost going for 9,999 shots of that, although I expect someone will do it eventually, to prove it can be done, I guess. It wouldn't be the greatest lengths someone has gone through, to paraphrase Anil Dash, to get one of those internet gold stars next to his name.

I'm annoyed the ghost video pauses the moment the ghost is killed, instead of going on to show us what happens after that, if the level continues ghostless, if it is respawned, or the game crashes, or what.

Aside: It's weird that all-9 number has become the default value for a number so high it should never be reached, when high binary values make more sense, but never mind.
posted by JHarris at 2:11 AM on November 16, 2013


The wiki says it only applies to classic Spelunky, which is the freeware version released in 2008. I assume that exploit has been fixed in the new version.

Ah - thanks. I did test that ESC+F1 worked in Spelunky, but didn't do it while holding an Ankh (I started playing after seeing this video and have only gotten to the black market twice, both times without having enough cash to purchase the ankh).
posted by YAMWAK at 12:50 AM on November 18, 2013


I dunno, after seeing it first mentioned in Anita Sarkeesian's videos, I kind of feel icky about heaving around the unconscious damsels in Spelunky.

Speaking of Sarkeesian, there's a new episode of Tropes vs Women in Video Games: Ms. Male Character
posted by homunculus at 7:43 PM on November 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I dunno, after seeing it first mentioned in Anita Sarkeesian's videos, I kind of feel icky about heaving around the unconscious damsels in Spelunky.

It's okay to be a fan of problematic things. Sarkeesian herself has said she enjoys the game greatly. It's just unfortunate it's got this one kinda icky mechanic.
posted by sparkletone at 7:59 PM on November 18, 2013


(Spoilers / obnoxious YAVP). Finally beat hell tonight. Third time making it to Yama's throne room, but this one had an easier setup. I had one health left, but there were not too many vampires and only one spinning spike thing on the left side. So I could just hang onto a chain and blast away with the shotgun. Watching YouTube videos helped, but they also convinced me that the exit is always on the right side. Thankfully I noticed the big red compass arrow before doing something stupid.

My score was only $315,650 which puts me in the low 4000s overall. I guess the next step is learning how to ghost the vaults.
posted by Gary at 12:26 AM on November 20, 2013


Congrats!
posted by JHarris at 12:31 AM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I finally started playing the other day and so far maybe two of my deaths haven't been cheap ones. I'm still in the Caves but I seem to have developed a specialty in falling from great heights - the platformer-style 2d graphics always fool me into thinking I can treat my character like Mario. It's a lot of fun though.
posted by ersatz at 2:59 AM on November 20, 2013


Just dropping down from one row of screens to the next is one of the riskiest things (and in dark levels can be pretty nerve-wracking). I'd recommend taking the time to stop and either duck near the ledge till the camera lowers, or dangle off the edge and hold down until the camera does the same so you can get the lay of the land before taking the plunge. Sometimes you will get screwed and have to use a rope or some other means to get down safely, but usually there's a spot you can fall to safely.
posted by sparkletone at 8:37 AM on November 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Losing a heart isn't a good thing of course, but the real danger of falling too far is you get knocked out for a few seconds, and you might also take a bounce which could leave you helpless next to a tiki trap, or a carnivorous plant, or dump you off the level in the ice caves, or leave you in lava, or on top of a land mine, or....
posted by JHarris at 6:30 PM on November 20, 2013


I finally started playing the other day and so far maybe two of my deaths haven't been cheap ones.

I felt like this for awhile, but as you play more and get a better feel for the systems I guarantee you will perform significantly better. These deaths still occur for sure but they're more the Spelunky gods giving you the middle finger for starting to outclass them than the game being cheap.
posted by edeezy at 3:39 AM on November 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Statistically, I believe most deaths still happen in the Mines. It's not that the terrain is that much worse than the rest of the game, it's that there's no barrier to entry. When you start consistently reaching the Jungle, you've improved a lot. Tiki traps are possibly the single deadliest trap in the game, but to die to one of those, you have to have not died to Arrow traps, or giant spiders, or landing on spikes in the mines.

Although the Ice Caves are the least forgiving terrain (if you don't have a Compass it's the one place, other than maybe the boss, where you might conceivably need to use ropes), you've learned a lot about being a careful player by the time you get there.

The Temple has many of the worst traps from the rest of the game, but because it looks so scary, I actually don't die an awful lot there, because I've usually gotten lots of bombs by that point and won't be shy about carving a route through solid stone if I have to.
posted by JHarris at 4:29 AM on November 21, 2013


I felt like this for awhile, but as you play more and get a better feel for the systems I guarantee you will perform significantly better. These deaths still occur for sure but they're more the Spelunky gods giving you the middle finger for starting to outclass them than the game being cheap.

I should have been clearer; it's not the game being cheap but me being eager and rushing or too slow and looking for treasure while not having the hang of jumping over the ghost. I'll lose a heart I could have saved or try to hit an enemy above me with the whip and overestimating my abilities or falling from great heights due to misusing or not using the jetpack/gloves/parachute. But that's what keeps me coming back.

Giant spiders can burn in hell though.
posted by ersatz at 4:03 PM on November 21, 2013


Giant spiders can burn in hell though.

Giant spiders don't cause me anywhere as near as much grief as bats. Throw a bomb into the web directly below them and get a couple of gems and some useful glue. Or let them drop and have fun stomping them to death (note, may lose some health doing this unless you have stompy boots on).

The delay on the whip makes killing bats dangerous for me, even if they're coming at an easy angle. Get two bats at once, swooping at angles and I'm not a happy bunny.

Sometimes my biggest problem is the control system - having the same button for pickup / throw / whip has killed me and my cute little pug damsels more often than I care to think about.
posted by YAMWAK at 1:00 AM on November 22, 2013


A bomb into the web! I had a Columbus' egg moment when I read that (still keeping away from the wiki). I reached the Jungle a couple of times and got a #57 in today's challenge an hour after it started of course, so I'm pretty satisfied. Just one more try wouldn't hurt...
posted by ersatz at 5:27 PM on November 22, 2013


Today I learned you can drain the lava below Olmec by dropping a jetpack into it and getting Olmec to crush the jetpack. There's not really anything down there. Just a two-brick thick layer of bricks above an abyss. But, hey. A thing you can do.
posted by sparkletone at 9:36 PM on November 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ah, that's very interesting! I wonder if that would work with the water at the bottom of the rushing water level, where there is treasure down there. I don't think there's an abyss, so I expect not.

(Dropping a Jetpack, I believe can really only be done by picking up a Cape, which would require finding one in a crate on that level or else having an ally carrying one die.)
posted by JHarris at 10:01 PM on November 22, 2013


(Dropping a Jetpack, I believe can really only be done by picking up a Cape, which would require finding one in a crate on that level or else having an ally carrying one die.)

In this case it was Bananasaurus Rex looking for score run seeds tonight and not getting one (yet). He ended up deciding to skip hell, but had gotten a jet pack from the first market and then a second one from the black market. He took the second one with him to Olmec and did what I described above.
posted by sparkletone at 10:09 PM on November 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, and apparently orange frog death in the lava can do the same thing? Not sure if you can drain the water in a piranha level. It seems plausible, though I've not seen it done. I dunno what's at the bottom of that big water area (if there's an abyss, or just infinite-ish rock).
posted by sparkletone at 10:12 PM on November 22, 2013


Would the lava destroy the orange frog like it would with bombs?
posted by JHarris at 1:55 AM on November 23, 2013


Wait a second... what happens if you drain the lava before Olmec dies? Is it the lava that kills him, or does he just magically die if he goes low enough on the map?
posted by JHarris at 1:57 AM on November 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wait a second... what happens if you drain the lava before Olmec dies? Is it the lava that kills him, or does he just magically die if he goes low enough on the map?

I think it must be the lava. On the stream, without the lava, Olmec just started hopping around the now-empty lava part of the level, perfectly alive and everything. Eventually Baer made a whole for him to fall into and suicided with him.
posted by sparkletone at 11:26 AM on November 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I dunno what's at the bottom of that big water area (if there's an abyss, or just infinite-ish rock).

You can't drain the big water area. The bottom and sides of it are the invincible rock that makes up the boundaries of a non-abyss level.
posted by sparkletone at 12:45 AM on November 24, 2013


Yeah, but you're not supposed to be able to drain Olmec's level either. I think that area has special coding anyway though; whenever you destroy a wall in water, the water it's in drains to the level below the bomb. There are destroyable walls in that lake: they're on the surface, jutting down into it. When you bomb those walls, the lake should drain a level or two, but it doesn't. Either it's special water, a special case in the code, or alternatively maybe it's implemented where each body of water tracks only the *outer* walls of its basin.

Why are there breakable walls at the bottom of Olmec's area?
posted by JHarris at 4:42 AM on November 24, 2013


And what was the treaty they worked up with the Zygons? That might be cool, to have them lurking around, not being conquerors but co-existing with humans, like Pertwee's Doctor always wanted to have happen with the Silurians.

Not fond of the Black Archive keeping secrets from the Doctor though. Might be a bit of the concerns over national security agencies beginning to affect the show's treatment of UNIT?
posted by JHarris at 4:46 AM on November 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dr. Who Spelunky expansion pack?
posted by codacorolla at 11:08 AM on November 24, 2013


A sonic screwdriver would help a lot. It can do everything but open wooden crates.
posted by Gary at 11:50 AM on November 24, 2013


Why are there breakable walls at the bottom of Olmec's area?

The first thing that occurs to me is: To make the door to Hell possible.
posted by sparkletone at 2:37 PM on November 24, 2013


Argh, sorry, posted in the wrong thread.
posted by JHarris at 2:46 PM on November 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


This run cracked me up.Northernlion: Richest man in the world. Goes all in on a 26k bet he will die of old age in spelunky in a quest to unseat arch rival Bisnap as richest spelunky player.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:02 PM on November 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


He doesn't just bet on old age, but makes it a Hell run too.
posted by JHarris at 2:05 AM on November 25, 2013


I was doing a run with one heart from 1-3 and I was only encountering gambling shops. I find an idol below shop level and take it, then sacrifice a pug and get a cape. In the jungle, I sacrifice a caveman and a pug and here's my first kapala. Black market, I manage to save another pug and I reach the ice caves for the first time. I go through all of four levels on the first try... and go to the mothership instead of the temple and die unceremoniously. Gloves+cape+shotgun/spike shoes made the ice caves really easy. I ended up with more than $100K for the first time too. So, thanks OP.
posted by ersatz at 11:03 AM on November 26, 2013


Wow. Just. Wow. I run at first sight of the ghost and this guy... this guy.... wow.
posted by RolandOfEld at 11:21 AM on November 26, 2013


I've started trying to do speed runs, and oddly, I seem to play a little better when trying them, I won two games in a row with times of <18 minutes and <15 minutes.
posted by JHarris at 2:20 PM on November 26, 2013


I've "beaten" every part of the game except for the final challenge, where I've hit a bit of a brick wall. Two times I've gotten to the first end boss, and then died stupidly despite being otherwise well prepared for the next part. Generally I get about half of the requirements before dying stupidly. I also feel like I'm playing much worse since I've made this my goal. Kept it vague to avoid too much spoiling.
posted by codacorolla at 10:07 AM on November 27, 2013


In response to people talking about Rogue Legacy, above, I just got it in a Steam sale, and...

...I'm really not that impressed with it. It wants the difficulty of Castlevania, but without the carefully-tuned balance of player and monster abilities. And the controls are really twitchy. The game doesn't feel like a combat game, but a game about manipulating your attack warmup and damage zone (which is infuriatingly slightly shorter than the graphic of your weapon on-screen) so that they connect with enemies, while keeping your own ranges away from those of monsters. If I were designing this, the attack animation would be a lot quicker, sharper, you wouldn't be able to move while attacking by default, and jumps wouldn't be nearly so floaty.

It's a subtle thing, as far as platforming action games go, but I've seen so many Flash games get it wrong. Spelunky has some problems with it too, I'm not fond of the whip in that game, but it's got enough other strengths I can forgive it. Plus, Rogue Legacy has the whole annoying unlock treadmill going on, where the game is really balanced to be fair to someone who has put enough time into it to unlock stuff. So I really cannot recommend it.
posted by JHarris at 6:32 AM on November 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


Bananasaurus Rex kills the ghost. Lava does 99 damage to the ghost, which made it more viable than the UFO method linked above.
posted by Gary at 9:00 AM on November 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


I wanted to get the "Good Teamwork" achievement playing solo and it's actually pretty fun. For the achievement to count you only need the two players to be alive at the end. During the rest of the run, player 2 is basically a damsel that stands still when you put him down. You can throw him at bad guys or even sacrifice him. There will always be a coffin on the next level to resurrect him.

I can't imagine playing it with three other people though. I've played four-player New Super Mario Bros. with younger relatives and it's bad enough when someone steals your fire flower. Sacrificing a family member for the Kapala might end Christmas early.
posted by Gary at 12:50 AM on November 29, 2013


So I've played a lot of Spelunky lately. I'm up to 16 wins, and am approaching a 1-in-10 win rate on my current file. It is a terrific game. It is not perfect, though, and it is worth speculating upon the nature of that imperfection, and why the game is still awesome despite it.

I just had a game in which I fell unconscious into a web in a low-ceilinged passage. A venomous snake, stuck in a like web, periodically spat venom at the hapless, helpless Spelunky guy for three hearts of damage in a row, killing him before he woke up. This is problematic because, in other cases, being unconscious from a fall is a guard against further damage. Sometimes that happens and sometimes it doesn't; in fact, I'd argue that it shouldn't be a guard against damage, but sometimes it is. Why does this seem to me like the way the game should work?

Next game. I fall past an arrow trap at the proper, magic distance that causes its arrow to fire but barely miss me. But it hits a rock wall, and bounces back. I know what this means and run but am not fast enough. The falling arrow bounces off the ground, rebounds up into the air a little, hits me on the rebound and does its two full hearts of damage, because sufficently-fast arrows with arrowheads always do two hearts. If it's moving one pixel per second slower than that magic speed, it does no damage -- if it's moving fast enough, it does two hearts. It seems arbitrary, unfair. Why does it seem to me like this is unfair?

I've written about roguelikes (or "rogue-ish"es, to use a term Ian A.T. informs me about in MeMail) for some years now, have thought about them for much longer, and I have an answer. It is one I have had some difficulty getting designers to pay attention to, but I am convinced it is correct. The reason I have an opinion about those cases above is because of the game's similarity to real life, which informs our understanding of the game systems, gives us an intuitive framework for understanding those systems, and when that understanding is not matched by the game's programming we are disappointed. I say "we" and "us" here because, even if you don't share my opinion of these two specific events, there is bound to be other situations in games where this has happened.

The reasoning goes like this:
Q: When you get hurt in Spelunky, whose fault is it?
- Well, it can't ever be the game's fault, can it? It's just a simulation. If the events in the simulation progress in such a way that your guy gets hurt, you must have done something avoidable to cause it. (The level generator is generally such that this is true.)
- But how was I supposed to know that based on the cause-and-effect of the simulation? It's just a set of arbitrary rules.
- But those rules are similar to the rules of physics in the real world. Because of that, you have the mental apparatus to understand them, and can sort of see where they lead.

That works until the simulation acts in a way that is counter our understanding of physics -- when the game gives you some pity invulnerability after taking a damaging fall, which gets selectively ignored, or when an arrow falling a short distance somehow does the same damage as one fired at great speed.

These differences, however, are edge cases. For the most part the simulation is understandable, and the causes and effects work well. Spelunky excels at producing a world that is causal enough to be interesting. In fact, these situations are not not really common. I only know that losing a heart from falling sometimes protects you from damage from observation of many games. Bouncing arrows are very rarely something that comes into play.

What if the rules were entirely abstract though? Well, really, they are abstract, the similarities to real systems is illusory. That is in fact the root of the matter: Spelunky's systems are chosen because they are similar to real systems, but in those cases where they aren't, they are disappointing. But even so, they're good enough most of the time, and we can accept those cases where they aren't as special, learn them and work around them. Indeed, I am wondering if those special cases might actually be good things, because they give players additional quirks of the system to learn, and possibly take advantage of.

And fortunately, even when we die because the system acts in a way where we fail to understand it, either due to personal failing or an unexpected consequence of the system, starting a new game is very quick, which gets us over the loss of the previous game quickly. Far too few games let you start a new game as quickly as Spelunky, and I would say that's a larger part of its success than one might expect.

In any event, my thoughts about the game are still evolving. There might be more later.
posted by JHarris at 12:19 PM on November 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


So I've played a lot of Spelunky lately. I'm up to 16 wins, and am approaching a 1-in-10 win rate on my current file.

I, too, have been playing it a lot the last couple days, after binging on the dodgy mac port of the original freeware version a few years ago and then playing the 360 version when it came out a whole bunch. Steam had the PC release with the Daily Challenge on sale the other day for $3.74 briefly, and I'd lost my 360 save game at some point, so I went ahead and bought the game again.

I am up to 0 wins and am holding down a 100% mortality rate. But! I got the jungle and ice cave shortcuts taken care of without too much problem (even managed to deliver the first shotgun I came across and legitimately paid for to finish off the ice cave shortcut), and after losing most of the balance of this morning to a mixture of cursing and laughing managed to get a key down to the bottom of the ice caves as well, and started beating my head provisionally against the temple.

I only got about this far on the 360 back before I lost my save file, and the temple still seems ridiculously deadly to me but for all that I did manage to sneak down to Olmec from a shortcut a couple times and the second time even managed not to get crushed on literally the first thwomp. I'll keep telling myself it's pretty much like Super Mario World and hope for the best.

I sort of wish there was some mechanism for getting less than a cold start on shortcut runs, though that's the "I like being good at stuff" side of me talking rather than the "let's design a challenging puzzle platformer" side. But there's also clearly a hell of a lot of non-naive gameplay opportunities that I haven't even started to exploit, so I should probably work harder on self-improvement here and stop whinging.
posted by cortex at 12:03 PM on December 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


The best advice I can offer you there is not to take the shortcuts. I don't suggest this as a toughening exercise, but because you do end up with so few resources taking a shortcut, even one that skips only the Mines, that the rest of the game is harder.

One more thing I can suggest. I've mentioned above about hording bombs. But there is also using bombs. It's amazing how many threats in the game can be wholly eliminated with a bomb, especially if you have the glue. (Note: a handful of enemies take two bombs instead of one.)

You can risk your life getting by that tiki trap in an awkward place, or, you can bomb it. You can risk falling by that thwomp, or you can bomb it. You can run by that giant spider and hope to get away, or bomb it and get glue and gems in the process. Giant yeti? Bomb it. Large alien? Bomb the forcefield generator in front of it, them bomb it, them bomb the wall behind it for a free Jetpack.

After basic platforming, I think the most important skill is getting down the bomb trajectories. If you're at a standstill and don't press any arrows, the bombs sail out in such a lovely arc, although you shouldn't use that unless you have glue. Without glue, I'd limit all bomb use to dropping them at your feet unless you're desperate. Without it, you can pick up lit bombs in a pinch and time it so they explode as they strike your target, but if you fail you've wasted a bomb and if you're slightly slow in throwing you've also killed yourself, so getting glue is a priority. Fortunately, between giant spiders, random shops and the Black Market, there are very few games where you can't get glue in some way.

The old dictum still applies: there's lots of things that can kill you, but only one you. Don't take unnecessary chances. If you have lots of bombs, use them. Of course, you can easily use too many, figuring out the right balance between bomb use and having enough for the boss is one of those knacks you have to learn.
posted by JHarris at 2:23 PM on December 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I finally beat Hell yesterday. It was amazingly frustrating as well as amazingly satisfying. I have had no desire to play since and actually ridded my hard drive of the game. After thinking about all the time and steps it actually tooks to beat Hell and my resulting uninstallation of the game I'm torn between the design of the final quest being great or horrible.
posted by edeezy at 12:29 AM on December 4, 2013


Also, Re: JHarris' comment, think about all of your deaths. Think about how many of those deaths could have been avoided if you had used a bomb or two. Don't be reckless, but use more bombs.

Another piece of advice: be wary of the climbing gloves. Some people are amazing at the game, and in Youtube playthroughs often always grab the gloves and continue to be amazing with them, but for certain playstyles (my own included) the gloves are a huge hindrance with their super-grabbiness. Without a doubt they have saved my butt more than once, but those rare cases are times when I accidentally picked them up from a crate or ran into them while dodging shopkeepers/the ghost in the Black Market. I try to avoid the gloves as much as I can.
posted by edeezy at 12:38 AM on December 4, 2013


Yes, the Climbing Gloves, because they greatly lessen your reliance on Ropes and let you potentially do things like reach high crates without resource consumption, are much better to have than not, but they require you to modify your play style to account for them. Particularly, dropping down to quickly stomp something you're suspended above gets harder, because if you're not careful you'll probably grab the wall on the way down. I think most players get killed by a tiki trap a few times before they get used to them. Also note, if you're grabbed onto a wall, jumping enemies below you will hurt you if they rise up into you, your feet don't provide you with Mario-style protection unless you're not holding onto anything.

The process of getting better at Spelunky includes coming to recognize all the quirks of the game engine and adjusting for them. How to handle specific, dangerous, re-occuring situations, like bats descending from directly above (get under an overhang and whip it, or run to the side to make its angle of approach more oblique). Things that would ordinarily ding you for a heart or two. Fortunately the game is still interesting even once you've got most of that stuff. It's really satisfying, for instance, to kill multiple enemies with one rock, to get it arc right so that you take care of a couple of bats and maybe even a spider with one throw.

The most annoying thing about the Hell run is that it takes the game from being enormously flexible with a wide variety of approaches to success, and narrows it down to being a game where you have to do it this way. Olmec is a more limited version of this, with its need to have a dozen or so bombs or else have a crappy time, but to get to Yama you have to have $50K early on, which is usually but not always possible, and yet also enough bombs to take care of the Anubises and still get through Hell's own obstacles, and then still take out Yama himself. Some games starve you for bombs and make a Hell run impossible, which sucks when you're in the middle of the run when you realize it.

It's also something where it's easy to forget one of the steps along the way. Last night I had a game in which I was determined to try Hell, but forgot to get the Ankh earlier, so I had to content myself with Olmec. Win #18, though.
posted by JHarris at 8:53 AM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just sacrificed myself to Kali and now I'm a baseball mitt and I don't even know what to think anymore.
posted by cortex at 12:07 PM on December 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


Truly, the ways of the gods inspire us to awe. And sometimes, laughter.

(Of course, if you were in a co-op game, another player could then stick his hand in you and use you to throw things. The great circle of life turns on....)
posted by JHarris at 12:16 PM on December 5, 2013


Here's another thrilling TALE OF SPELUNKY!!! (plz pretend that was written in the Indiana Jones font)

Level 1: Rescued a damsel, getting up to five hearts, the minimum threshold of health before I start sacrificing them.
Level 2: Contained an Altar and a damsel. Kali gives me a compass -- a pretty decent gift.
Level 3: Contained Udjet Eye, another damsel, and another Altar. I get the Kapala. This is the earliest I've ever gotten one. I decide to milk it.

The relevent facts:
1: The Kapala awards one health for every eight blood drops.
2: You can whip a damsel twice to get a total of six blood drops total from her, and still rescue her for another heart.
3: Judging from how much I got from them, scorpions are made entirely of blood. Two stomps for three each, the third for what seems like six. I manage to do this twice before finishing the Mines. It's also worth it to (carefully) whip Mantraps, which explode in a blood bonanza when shattered.
4. Cave men and Tiki men, if stomped without Spike Shoes (I didn't find any until the Ice Caves), similarly produce lots of blood. Even bats and spiders produce three drops each. I actually preferred it when pots had them, and went out of my way to break all I could get to -- the game obliged me by infesting lots of pots.

Result: I ended up with a grand total of 22 hearts.

Downfall: Thwomps, it turns out, will smash you into an overhanging wall if they catch you by even a single pixel. No amount of health will save you from that. Argh. I even had a Jetpack that game.
posted by JHarris at 1:52 AM on December 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Which goes to show that playing SMB 3/Super Mario World is a life skill.

I just sacrificed myself to Kali and now I'm a baseball mitt and I don't even know what to think anymore.

Updated my journal. Maybe I should try getting unconscious on an altar.
posted by ersatz at 2:08 AM on December 7, 2013


Spelunky win #19:

It was another game with an early Kapala, but I wasn't able to milk it as much, plus the game had it out for me in almost every other way. The Udjet Eye never stirred a peep in the jungle so I didn't find the Black Market this game. I got up to 17 bombs from an early shop, but mostly had to get by with the occasional three-bomb bag after that, and the "good" route through the temple was extremely trecherous (it often is), with drops into lava. I didn't find any Climbing Gloves until a crate in Olmec's lair, so I had to make due with ropes.

So resources were touch and go the whole way through. I ended up two bombs short fighting Olmec and so had to think fast to get him to smash the rest of the way through. I wouldn't have had as many as I did except for finding another bag in Olmec's place. A couple were in a shop in 4-3 -- but one with an arrow trap pointed directly into it! If you're carrying a damsel and get hit by an arrow, she takes the damage instead of you, a fact I made use of (although come to think of it I had so much health I could have just taken the hit).
posted by JHarris at 4:14 AM on December 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


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