Excerpt: Any god worth its deific salt knows how to punish transgressors. Expect spiders to rain down upon the head of anyone who dares to destroy the sacred altar of Kali. And if you're so cavalier that two holy places are shattered by your hand, a punishment worthy of such disrespect is yours to bear. Moving isn't so easy with a ball and chain tied to your leg, is it? Blasphemers are not long for this world, but when death finally smothers the brazen explorer, it's not the end.
Pros: Excellent risk-reward dynamic, Great variety of enemies, traps, and items, Unlocking shortcuts forces you to play differently, Lots of flexibility in how to progress
Excerpt: You drop off a ledge, your hands nervously gripping a flickering torch, which is your only source of light in these deadly, trap-filled corridors. For a split second, your mind wanders back to the encounter with a gargantuan reptilian creature that left you severely wounded. That split-second distraction proves to be fatal: a giant spider falls from the ceiling and delivers a deadly bite. You didn’t react in time.
Pros: Everything about it, The constant sense of discovery, Learning how to challenge your limits
Cons: Everything about it if you’re short-tempered, No online co-op, You will have to go to bed and stop playing at some point
Excerpt: Most platformers are won or lost by memorisation. Learn the controls and study your terrain and you'll eventually end up on top of the flagpole or through the spinning golden ring. In Spelunky's procedurally generated world, however, the comforting familiarity of muscle memory is nowhere to be found - the fun, if you will, comes from conquering the unknown. Yet despite this inherent randomness, Spelunky's world is one of mechanical precision.
Summary: Parents need to know that Spelunky is an extremely challenging platform adventure game available through Xbox Live Arcade that includes a bit of cartoonish violence and a small amount of blood. Its mild combat (against spiders, bats, and cavemen) and high level of difficulty make the experience best suited for older kids of a more persevering nature.
Conclusion: If you have a group of friends that you can chase on the leaderboards, then I can see Spelunky justifying its $15 price tag. That is the extent of the online multiplayer, as the game’s co-op mode is local only. I really do hate Spelunky. It is frustrating in a way that few console games ever are. It’s audio-visual trappings don’t really help the matter for me, but the sense of discovery has me intrigued to find out what happens next.
Pros: Topping all of your friend’s scores in something this arduous is an accomplishment that all can instantly recognize. I hate the endless caves, the merciless traps, and the deadly monsters, but I feel like I’m supposed to hate them. The fun is in the posturing to friends: “Oh, you don’t know how to get past a caveman? How cute.” These caves are filled with unknown wonders and quirkiness Developer Yu’s original PC Spelunky didn’t have Xbox Live’s built-in leaderboards, ...
Cons: The controls are touchy This is already a difficult game, but it isn’t made any easier by its touchy controls. Walking without holding the right trigger to sprint is too slow, but sprinting makes the hero fly wildly across the screen. The standard whip attack feels like it should just reach a few pixels farther, and will get you killed when you think it should have hit an enemy that it doesn’t. Picking up items requires a combination button press, but the game doesn’t...
Conclusion: It's worth noting that Spelunky XBLA is a remake of the original Spelunky on PC which can be downloaded and played for no charge at all, so if the 1200msp price tag is a bit off putting try out the free PC version, as the games are very very similar in general.
Summary: Spelunky is a brilliant 2D cavern explorer that reminds us of the old days of gaming, where one foul move spelled the end of that run and the complete restart of the game that you had worked so hard on. It isn't for everyone though, the difficulty can be infuriatingly hard and means that some players won't ever make it to the later levels.
Pros: Beautiful 2D graphics, Difficulty will be welcomed by fans of hardcore gaming experiences, Multiplayer deathmatch is very fun
Cons: I WANT TO KILL THIS GAME SOMETIMES, Spelunky can be extremely frustrating, Multiplayer is local only, there's no online
Conclusion: Spelunky is a strong candidate for the game of 2012. It is arguably a perfect example of the potential of video games as entertainment – an easily understood, rapidly-learned set of rules which govern a game which can only be improved at by practice and mastery of those rules. The utter rejection of compromise, while still incorporating modern developments like effective tutorials and help files, makes it an ideal modernisation of the hardcore platform game.