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Review: Spelunky (XBLA)

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When people talk about Spelunky they far too often refer to it as some sort of ‘death-grind’, where all you do is spawn and die and that’s somehow that’s the single, solitary hook that keeps you playing like some sort of brutal exercise in platforming S&M.

For me, it wasn’t the notion of getting flat-lined just to try again that kept me coming back, it was something a little more subtle than that; namely the concepts of greed versus survival and risk versus reward.

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Written by bitsnark

July 17, 2012 at 10:24 am

Something You May Have Missed – The Dark Souls Of 2D Platforming; Spelunky Releases On XBLA Tomorrow For 1200MSP

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This is just the merest glimpse at the punishingly sadistic, yet wholly entertaining 2D platform bliss that is Spelunky. If you have even a passing interest in platforming, you OWE it to yourself to grab this.

Right, this is going to be an unashamed plug for a game that I feel not nearly enough people know about – a tragedy given just how titanically brilliant it is.  Originally released on the PC back in 2009, Derek Yu’s roguelike 2D platformer Spelunky will finally complete it’s elongated trek to Xbox Live Arcade tomorrow complete with updated HD visuals, brand new levels, obstacles, items, enemies and the welcome addition of competitive and co-operative multiplayer modes.

As we’ve already said, Spelunky is a 2D platformer and equally, the game itself us truly deserving of it’s Dark Souls analogous comparisons – the game is totally, rock-fucking-hard and each time you die, you are forced to start the whole thing again.  Such a brutal practice of punishing players would seem like a huge misstep, were it not for the fact that the game is bursting with more challenge, satisfaction and charm than any 2D platformer of recent memory.  The gameplay in Spelunky is simple enough; you must proceed from the top of the level to the bottom of it, avoiding obstacles and enemies unique to that level (every level has a different theme) whilst hoovering up as much loot as humanly possible.  Yet, this game is as a staunch test of your gaming credentials as anything else on the market – death is permanent and when you respawn, the level randomises itself; forcing you to play dynamically and adapt on your feet.

In all honesty as if you couldn’t guess, I am completely and unreservedly stoked for this and I remain in a state of flabbergast that what will surely be the downloadable title of the year isn’t a part of Microsoft’s ‘Summer of Arcade’ promotion (and thusly benefitting from all the extra marketing), yet inane Kinect-dross such as Wreckateer is.  I mean really, just look at the trailer below – the game practically sells itself:

Critical praise for the title has been staggering and as you can see by the reviews I have linked below, there is a common sentiment; the game is tortureously difficult but it’s in that difficultly, emboldened by peerless level design and playability, that players continually force themselves back into the fray – to see if they can get just that little bit further to make it onto the next level.  Despite it’s price of 1200 MSP, this appears to be a game that is worth every single bit of that Microsoft currency.  Go on, treat yourself to what will surely not only be the downloadable title of the year, but surely, one of the best platformers in recent memory.

Eurogamer – 10/10

IGN – 9/10

The Verge – 10/10

Team Xbox – 9/10

Destructoid – 9.5/10

Spelunky is due to release tomorrow on Xbox Live Arcade for 1200 MSP.  The original, relatively feature-lite version of the game can be downloaded on the PC for free – grab it here.

Written by bitsnark

July 3, 2012 at 10:08 am

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