Roguetemple’s Spotlight: Spelunky

Jhon Spelunky, a young, memory-less, snakephobic archeologist,
thirsty for adventure and treasure,
jumps into a cursed ruins complex full of traps and snakes…
looking for the ultimate artifact.
The amulet of Yendor.

Jhon Spelunky enter the ancient ruins

This is a great way to start our biweekly Roguelike Spotlight, bringing you the latest and most exciting releases on the roguelike world!

Today, I give you Derek Yu‘s SPELUNKY, a great game which albeit still on development, I am sure you all will enjoy!

Hold on for a second!

My goal was to create a fast-paced platform game that had the kind of tension, re-playability, and variety of a roguelike.  In roguelikes, the gameplay tells the story, and I wanted to give Spelunky that type of a feeling… but make the player rely on their reflexes rather than their brain (or knowledge of what 50 billion command keys do!).  If there’s a best of both worlds, that’s what I was trying to go for.

Did he suceed?

The reward for the trouble

This is much more than a procedurally generated platformer… besides the sweetly randomly generated levels there are many more things that take it close to a traditional roguelike! the fate of that promising character can change in less than you think, from a stuffed archeologist, shotgun and bombs packed, to giant tarantula food or a spike-teared bloody corpse!

Thrilling action!

The game features a smooth dificulty curve while still keeping things difficult; it is also full of surprises and puzzly situations where you got to make use of your available items, and by the way, you must make good use of them, as you may end up in a dead-end situation.

Following, the roguelikeness evaluation for Spelunky:

  • High Value Factors
    • Random Environment Generation: Yes
    • Permafailure (including Permadeath): Yes
    • Turn Based Interaction: No
    • Single command set: Yes
    • Freedom: Yes
  • Middle Value Factors
    • Discovery mechanics: Yes
    • Single player: Yes
    • Lots of content: No
    • Complex non-trivial world and object interactions: Yes
  • Low Value Factors
    • High ramped difficulty: Yes
    • Monsters are players: Yes
    • Character-based display: No
    • Hack and Slash: Yes


What? Why? HOW?? :(

Derek Yu provides us with a worthy cross-over experience, his experience in the indie scene cleary applied to this product. Graphics and Sound are retronice (what else could you expect from the creator of Aquaria?).

SO, download the game, browse the wikiashare some levels and… DISCUSS! 🙂

20 thoughts on “Roguetemple’s Spotlight: Spelunky

  1. Cheers to Derek Yu. Blackeye Software (his website from ages ago) is what introduced me to roguelikes in the first place. He actually had a prototype of one he was making called Shades Below but never finished it. So finally, seven-odd years later he makes one!


  2. I’m not that familiar with the roguelike rubric, but there are a couple of areas that your evaluation that I think is off:

    Freedom: Yes? You can’t travel between levels. Once you go through the door you’re on the next level and can not go back? How much freedom are we talking about?

    Lots of content: No? How much content do you need. There is always something new to discover as you play it.

    Monsters are players: Yes? Monster’s can’t pick stuff up. Monster’s can’t use items. Occasionally you’ll run into a shop keeper who will whip out a shotgun, but they don’t have to carry it, it just appears on their person. Not sure I get this one.

    But otherwise, yeah, I totally think Spelunky has every chance of turning the roguelike world on it’s ear. Whatever that means.


  3. Well, Freedom as in Rogue. In that old game you were also looking for a way down, without a way to go back up. Freedom as in “Many ways to get to the down staircase, pick your own” and “No prescripted way on how to get through the levels” 🙂

    The “Lots of Content” evaluation has been challenged a lot, and that’s because it is poorly defined. Rogue has 26 kind of monsters, 19 scroll types, 16 kind of potions, 14 kinds of rings… later roguelikes, have a much wider selection of monsters, items and “stuff”; that’s not the strong point of spelunky, but rather an exploding set of gameplay with not-so-many elements (IMO)

    Monsters are players (a bit) because they are affected by the same physics; they fall in the traps and are affected in the same way as players (see arrow traps, rolling boulders, etc). The bit I have seen implies they may have equipment in a “similar” way of the player. (Shopkeepers, as in your example)

    Thanks for your comments 🙂


  4. I absolutely love this game. It’s everything infuriating and addictive about platformers, built from a roguelike perspective. If you are wondering whether this game is worth trying, I suggest you play it if you ever owned an NES.


  5. This game is great, very frustrating but has some handy features that make up for the frustration. After about 60 attempts I have only made it to level 11 once. Yikes but I keep comming back. And it is great to see things like shopkeepers and other roguelike elements in this game. Stealing from the keepers is my favourite (short-lived) hobby.
    I highly recommend this game.


  6. As far as freedom in Spelunky, you are also allowed to kill anyone you encounter, including friendlies and neutrals, so there’s that. It also has hidden but completely optional content you can search for if you use a liberal definition of “freedom.” As for monsters not being able to use items, they don’t have the same versatility as the player, it’s true, but the shopkeeper not only will use firearms, but if disarmed will run to retrieve his old gun, or pick a new one up. I think calling it 78% roguelike is about right.


  7. Such a fantastic looking game…can’t wait to see what the continuing updates bring in terms of everything. We are surely entering into most interesting times in the Roguelike world lately.


  8. Are there old gameport to usb adapters? I just dusted off my gamepad to find that I don´t have a gamport anymore, and probably the drivers won´t be working either.

    Otherwise I will get me some cheap new gamepad I think.


  9. I think my favorite part of the game so far has been picking up a hand gun sold by the vendor, using it to kill the vendor, looting all of the vendors item, going to the next level, and being hunted down by the new vendor in that level ; p Good times, good times…

    Great game though, highly inspiring and SO ADDICTING >.<. Would love to try my hand at making one of these myself one day…


  10. Makke:

    I use the XBox 360 gamepad to play it and it works like a charm (picked one up since I’ve been developing in XNA a lot lately…). Give it a try if you can pick one up for cheap.


  11. Don’t lie, the ultimate artifact is not the amulet of Yendor. Unless there is another secret ending that I don’t know about.


  12. Got me some cheap 9.95 gamepad and it works fine.

    Damn, this game is hard, and it has mean traps… it´s great. Awesome take on the RL premise.


  13. this game simply pwns!

    end of story…

    although, I would love to see it expanded to include extra content etc. and I cant wait for some daring programmer to attempt to port it to a portable platform (NDS anyone 😉 )


  14. OMG this is sooooo goood! OH EMM GEE! I should totally mod this to have the amulet of yendor and the Ravenous Bug Blatter Beast Or Traal As A Boss


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