PC Gamer
SteamWorld Dig

If you’re not plugged into the wider world of non-PC gaming, you might have completely missed the release and positive reception for the Nintendo 3DS title SteamWorld Dig. It looks a bit like a steampunk, Wild West Spelunky, with randomly generated levels and blocky, destructible terrain. It's also got a new trailer that shows off the game’s locations and self-aware humor.

SteamWorld Dig certainly comes with the baggage of high expectations. The 3DS version landed a ton of high-scoring reviews, and according to developer Image & Form’s CEO, there’s some debate over whether it could be a contender for Game of the Year. Phrases like “the best 3DS game ever made” are being bandied about.

That’s all hearsay, though. What I see so far is a clever platformer with the potential to push that genre in unexpected ways, and the rest will be decided after the PC port is finished and we can get our hands on it. SteamWorld Dig hits Steam on December 5, so we won’t have to wait long to see how well it survives translation from the handheld universe.
Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia
One of Spelunky's most beloved features on PC has been the Daily Challenge, which generates a new set of levels everyday for high score hunters. Oh, and you only get one shot at it, so there's a real sense of satisfaction to topping a Daily Challenge leaderboard. This addictive aspect of Spelunky is now available on PS3 and Vita, so now those players can get in on the daily action, as well.
PC Gamer

Written by Angus Morrison

It is done. In a heart-stopping descent, Spelunky caster Bananasaurus Rex completed a world-first solo eggplant run. The eggplant's purpose was one of Spelunky’s best-kept secrets, discovered only once hackers started digging through the HD PC release. But knowing its power and using it are two different things. One slip, one rogue bat, one angry shopkeeper and your precious cargo is purple goo.

Hurling it at the face of King Yama, the final boss, transmogrifies him into a colossal eggplant with a single point of health. Compared to the effort required, it's barely worth the bother, but for some, the allure of the aubergine was too much to resist. The first co-op eggplant run fell to Avih20 in October, with Banasaurus achieving the unthinkable just one month later.

The video is an hour and 22 minutes long, but it’s an hour and 22 minutes of near misses, improbable saves, unbearable tension, and, of course, spoilers.

All hail the eggplant champion!

Thanks, RPS!
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Graham Smith)

Solo Aubergine Run, technically.

Some of you are going to think this isn’t news, but I want to talk about it anyway. Caster Bananasaurus Rex has completed Spelunky in a Solo Eggplant Run. Don’t know what that means? Come inside. Sit down. Let me explain. (more…)

Announcement - Valve
Save 50% on Spelunky during this week's Midweek Madness!

Spelunky is a unique platformer with randomized levels that offer a challenging new experience each time you play. Journey deep underground and explore fantastic places filled with all manner of monsters, traps, and treasure. You'll have complete freedom while you navigate the fully-destructible environments and master their many secrets. To stay or flee, to kill or rescue, to shop or steal... in Spelunky, the choice is yours and so are the consequences!

PC Gamer
Catacomb Kids 2

Despite its childish name and the youth of its protagonists, Catacomb Kids looks seriously brutal. It's a new platformer with randomly generated levels in the flavor of Spelunky, but it adds offensive magic and a delightfully retro art style to the mix. Now that the game, developed entirely by solo developer Tyriq Plummer, has been sent to IGF 2014, we can bask in the warm glow of its submission trailer.

Was that a blast of chain lightning frying two bad guys in a pool of water at 0:24? Yowza.

After an evil sorceress conquered the world, she was ultimately defeated and sealed in a dungeon to be dealt with later. This seems incredibly irresponsible to me, but I’m not a war hero fresh from the campaign against the undead, so what do I know? Now it’s time to actually finish off the evil sorceress, and it’s up to you to do the deed.

Catacomb Kids is planned for a 2014 release, and by then our Spelunky-plagued fingers will be ready for a new roguelike to latch onto. Keep an eye on the game’s website to keep up with developments.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Graham Smith)

You've procedurally generated... my love for you.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve played so much Spelunky that you can close your eyes and generate new levels for Derek Yu’s roguelike platformer inside your own head. Here, look, I’m doing it now – bet on what’s going to kill me…

It was a frog. Sigh.

For a more technical understanding of Spelunky’s procedural level generation, take a look at Darius Kazemi’s browser-based Spelunky level generator and associated guide. (more…)

PC Gamer

It’s no secret around here that we love playing Spelunky, and we love watching other people play Spelunky almost as much. If you fancy yourself a good predictor of how other explorers will kick the bucket (spikes, it’s always spikes), you can now put (virtual) money where your mouth is with Spelunky Death Roulette.

Spelunky Death Roulette is a clever construct that pulls in Twitch.tv streams of people playing Spelunky and lets viewers place bets on how the player will die. To help keep things honest, the streamer is forced to bet on “old age,” that is, they have to bet on their continued survival and success to keep them from throwing the game. Given the brutal nature of Spelunky, of course, betting on a successful run is pretty foolhardy, but I guess that’s why we’re not playing for real money.

If you’re new to Spelunky, it’s a roguelike exploration game with randomly generated cave complexes full of traps and dumb ways to kill yourself. Even if you’re not the betting type, it’s still a great game that’s worthy of your time, whether you’re playing or just watching.

Thanks, Wired.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Graham Smith)

In Spelunky we trust.

First there was Salty Bet, the 24/7 Twitch stream where AI-controlled fighting game characters do battle with one another in front of an audience who can bet on the winner with fake money. Now there is Spelunky Death Roulette, a similar wrapper for a group of Twitch streams where viewers can use fake money to bet on how they think the player will die. (more…)

PC Gamer
Spelunky daily challenge 2

"I see a bat. I couldn't be more prepared for this bat if I tried. OH GOD A BAT IS HERE WHAT DO I DO?"

That was the approximate commentary for my first ever Spelunky Daily Challenge - a game mode exclusive to the Steam edition of Spelunky. Every day it randomly generates a set of levels and every day you have just one chance at getting as far as you can. After you die (and you will probably die) you can see how far your friends made it and with how much cash.

The point of the Daily Challenge is to bring out the competitive aspect of the game and to make it social. In single player the competition was either with yourself or with the environment, but apparently if you add a leaderboard and the potential for watching friends die brilliantly theatrical or weird or stupid deaths, the game instantly becomes twice as compelling. This newfound potential also explains how I came to join the Spelunky Explorers Club, a collection of dedicated Spelunkers all recording their attempts to complete the Daily Challenge and then posting the videos on the internet to accumulate mockery or praise as deserved.

My first Spelunky Explorers Club video is below. It lasts 24 seconds and has been variously referred to as "pro", "inspiring" and "the alpha and omega of the medium".

The club was set up by Gunpoint developer, former PC Gamer gent and taker of transatlantic flight-length Letterpress turns, Tom Francis, as a way to share the wildly varied experiences of the Daily Challenge. It also offers up different ways to measure the success (or lack thereof) of participants by comparing deaths, items bought and narrow escapes, erm, escaped. According to Tom it's "like an old hunting lodge where we (dead) explorers share our tales of adventure."

The dead part is important here.

The game is basically a chocolate selection box of procedurally generated death traps. Spelunky's randomised environments lead to chains of events which spiral out of control and then explode, sometimes literally, into an entertaining demise. YouTube is now riddled with Daily Challenge videos and they're often brilliant fun to watch for those very reasons.

Mine are no exception to the death trend. In Spelunky I die every single day. There is a scenario where you can survive and actually finish the thing, but I don't watch those videos so I couldn't tell you exactly what happens. The reason I don't watch them is actually one of the problems with the Daily Challenge: that of losing the thrill of discovery.

Speaking with PC Gamer editor, Graham, with my friend Matt, and with basically anyone who has devoted hundreds of hours to playing Spelunky in the pre-Challenge era - one of Spelunky's great joys was walking into a level and finding something new. "I think the thing that pushed me through those early days when I was no good at it was a sense of discovery," said Graham when I had finished telling him how cross I was that I still hadn't seen a tree. "I hadn't even seen screenshots of world two. And then when I first got there I died instantly because there were new rules to learn."

Now what happens is the Daily Challenge actively promotes curiosity about what your friends are doing. You want to know how come they got so much further, whether they picked up the mystery box, how they died and so you ask them or you watch their Let's Play videos. The problem is that every one of these comes with a risk of seeing something far beyond what you've managed to find on your own.

That's how I know there are jungles and ice worlds and all manner of other cool, hidden things. It can spur you on by giving you a target to aim for but I want to keep some of the game's deeper levels a secret because I want to retain some of that joy*. As a result I'm wary of anything long or instructional-looking. Instead I gravitate towards shorter videos so as to more easily enjoy the deaths of others. Perhaps it should be renamed the Spelunky Daily Schadenfreude.

*Sidenote: sometimes there is too much joy. The first time I saw a jungle world I was so excited I smacked my leg into the underside of a desk and bruised my knee, as you'll see nine minutes into this auspicious playthrough.

The sharing aspect also opens up the possibility of cheating. According to Tom's system there is " a gentleman’s and gentlewoman’s agreement among explorers not to watch other people’s runs before attempting your own". The phrasing makes not cheating seem noble and honourable which are good enough reasons for not doing it. However, as someone who has tried cheating as a strategy I also feel I should point out that it isn't actually very helpful. The one time I cheated it did me no bloody good whatsoever and I ended up scampering around a mine in a futile attempt to avoid a ghost.

In making and uploading the videos it's also easy to keep a sense of your own progress or learning. Strangers or friends will also pop by to offer tips ("NEVER EVER BUY A TELEPORTER" from Matt, "Always have something in your hands" from Graham, "Damsels have 3HP" from Tom H) or maybe they'll subscribe to your channel and get invested in how you're doing.

You can also watch your own recordings back to work out chains of events which baffled you the first time around. You can pinpoint the exact moment the damsel died and how long you carried on tlking to her and dragging her round the mines, or you can work out whether it was the ghost, the boulder or the explosion of spiders which struck the fatal blow.

It's comforting to know that friends who can speedrun the whole thing in mere minutes still end up dying from the same arrow I did on the first level of the first world. Although I imagine that's less comforting from their perspective.

The Daily Challenge hasn't tempted me back into regular solo Spelunky at all. Those games still feel aimless and disjointed to me - at best they are practice for my Daily Challenge. It's the only Spelunky run of the day which matters and it's the one which has given me a way into a game I could never seem to love.

For more on Spelunky, read Graham's review, and Tom Francis' epic quest to reach the grand city of gold.

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