Spelunky was our 2013 Game of the Year, and this is why. Streamer/legend Bananasaurus_Rex has beaten the previous, piddly world record of $2,980,000 with a titanic $3,105,850, and all it took was seven-and-a-bit hours of incredibly patient play, a deep understanding of the game and its systems, and a ton of skill. Man, Spelunky is easy. It's the polar opposite of Rex's recent full speedrun, which he completed in just under seven minutes, and you can watch it below if you have most of the day spare (alternatively, you may want to skim it instead). Rex's other achievements include killing the ghost, and making the first successful solo eggplant run.
If you're a Spelunky player and you've not yet plumbed its infinite depths, then for heaven's sake don't watch this video, which reveals almost the full scope of Spelunky's secret-packed world. Achieving that 3-mil score relies on a technique known as ghost mining, which accounts for a good deal of the run and is perhaps not tremendously exciting to watch. The amazing thing about Spelunky is that, even when you know the outcome, watching a run is still a tense-as-hell experience, particularly after so many hours of investment.
My favorite thing about Spelunky, our 2013 Game of the Year, is how endlessly replayable it is. Between randomly generated levels, Spelunky Death Roulette, and the daily challenge, there's always a reason to come back. If those modes aren't enough for you, an upcoming conversion mod will add character skins, music, levels, and enemies from Metroid.
The creator of the mod, Spelunky forum user joey4track, is still finishing the conversion and will release the mod when all four worlds have been remade. So far, two of the four worlds are complete. Here's what the mines look like so far:
Video via YouTube user AGamerInBrooklyn.
The Spelunky Metroid Mod is a great example of what dedicated fans can do to extend the life of a game for a community. Samus can be skinned in either a couple of variations of the classic armored suit or you can just go as Zero Suit Samus. Equally impressive is the inclusion of a music pack that replaces Spelunky s natural tones with Metroid s 16-bit era midi music that continues to haunt my childhood memories. joey4track says he'll release the mod once all four worlds are complete. In the meantime, you can get the mod's music pack at the Mossmouth forums.
Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia
Derek 'Mossmouth' Yu's cave-digging exercise in masochism known as Spelunky has seen a lot of work go towards its PS3 and Vita versions. But while developer Blitworks focused on those versions, Yu has now set his sights on the game's PC version with a new patch, v1.4, that gives it a bit of a visual overhaul.
Image via YouTube user BaerTaffy.
Spelunky, that addictive roguelike that stole our hearts to win our Game of the Year last year, is getting a bit of a facelift. A new update will include an option to enable a smaller, more streamlined user interface, as well as various tweaks and bug fixes. The update is available as of today for download on Steam.
The biggest change in update 1.4 is the optional Pro HUD, which streamlines the heads-up-display by making most information smaller and less obtrusive. The Pro HUD also includes a timer and a current level indicator, which is great news for speedrunners. It s also useful for the rest of us, should we choose to mesure our exact terribleness down to the tenth of a second.
In addition to a ton of bug fixes, the update also includes an invert run option, which sets running as the default option. This is, again, perfect for mad speedrunning fools who sprint around levels without regard to safety.
If you ve been away from Spelunky for a while, this is a great excuse to come back. You can read the full patch notes here.
Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia
It's a lot of fun to watch the Shacknews Chatty community dive into Twitch and stream their favorite games, as evidenced by a full-on Shackbattle on display this week. In fact, some of us on the staff have decided to get in on the fun, too. This week's edition of Chatty Twitch Highlights is headlined by Chatty's finest getting into a PlanetSide 2 Shackbattle and by our own Alice O'Connor diving into the world of Dark Souls, where she dies. A lot. Here's a compilation of some of the best Shacknews Twitch highlights for the week of February 1, 2014.
Jan 21, 2014
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - firstname.lastname@example.org (Graham Smith)
Do you want to compete against your friends at Spelunky, the randomly generated platforming roguelike? That’s what the Daily Challenge is for; each day, a single set of levels is generated which is the same for everyone and which can be played only once.
But if once isn’t enough to satisfy your competitive urges, there’s now Seedlunky HD. The user-created tool lets you set a custom seed from which to generate levels, which you can then share with your friends while you continue to compare your adventures. (more…)
Shacknews - Alice O'Connor
Part of the point of Spelunky is that players never see the same level twice, always learning techniques to defeat what the level generator throws at them rather than simply layouts. But if you do want to replay a particular world over and over, for whatever reason, a canny little hack made by one fan will let you force the generator seed and recreate the same set of levels over and over.
Spelunky is brilliant. Part of the reason it's brilliant is the random generation, ensuring that each of your many retries are a chance to explore something new. Even the Daily Challenges - which randomly generate a new level each day, and share that level between every player - are brilliant. Here, then, is a community application that lets you completely bypass those randomised levels by setting your own custom creation seed. Will it still be brilliant? It's Spelunky, so probably.
The utility - found on the Mossmouth forum - lets you force Spelunky's level generator to use a predefined seed, which you can then share to other players in the spirit of friendly competition. Alternatively, you can go in the opposite direction: telling the utility to generate a 64-bit hash, thereby ensuring a bigger pool of random levels to draw from.
All of which sounds great, but opens up the possibility that players can gain an advantage on the leaderboards. By finding a seed that has beneficial items early on, or just by being able to practice on a non-randomised level set, it gives less-scrupulous high-score chasers a leg up on their honest competition.
Used in good faith, though, it's a fun little tool. And, short of an official, leaderboard skipping alternative, it's the only way you'll be able to create a special campaign challenge between you and your friends.
Jan 1, 2014
Welcome to the PC Gamer Game of the Year Awards 2013. For an explanation of how the awards were decided, a round-up of all the awards and the list of judges, check here.
Here it is, our game of the year 2013. It's Spelunky! We loved it for its exquisite, focused design. We loved it because of the laughter, and the loud cursing that it inspired. We loved it for a thousand hilarious deaths, and a thousand scary, silly, exciting lives. We loved it for its hidden depths and challenging secrets. We loved it for the shared experiences inspired by the PC-only daily challenge. For all of these reasons, and many more, this is the game that stole our hearts in 2013, and then hid them deep underground underneath a really annoyingly placed bat.
CHRIS It took a few months of dedicated advocacy from my friends, but I m glad I finally found out what the fuss was all about. Spelunky is an astonishingly well-designed adventure generator. It demonstrates that it isn t technology that matters, at the end of the day, or even mechanical complexity it s ideas and execution.
TOM Spelunky is a wonderful demonstration of the powers of randomisation. It should be a benchmark for designers who want to make their games endless. Its shifting dungeons constantly turn up challenging new formations, and it s packed with secret worlds and advanced challenges for experts. I am certainly not an expert, but I have had an amazing time playing in co-op. With a few friends at your side, it s a noisy and hilarious blame-a-thon, rife with accidental betrayal and moments of desperate heroism. We ve cheered, laughed and screamed ourselves to exhaustion, and we ll be doing it again and again in the years to come. At a glance you d never guess how good Spelunky is, but it s a quiet classic, and the best game on PC this year.
CORY My favourite games have a way of teaching me difficult lessons. Spelunky s lesson, which I m still learning, is slow the hell down.
I try to approach it like a normal platformer, racing against the clock to make jumps over spikes and bounce off spider s heads. And I fail, over and over and over. Because Derek Yu s game isn t a platformer, and it isn t a race though when Death shows up, you better believe I m going to run for my life. Instead, it s a perfectly measured mix of pacing and permadeath that somehow keeps me reloading after every cheap ending. I m still learning how to play it how the intro message about hating snakes means there s a snake pit in the level, and a pickaxe hiding at its bottom. Or how the angle of a bat s descent can be used to catapult my jump to new heights.
Here s an admission: I still haven t beaten the game yet. And I certainly haven t succeeded in any of its Daily Challenges, although watching others recorded playthroughs of these is a better teaching tool than any wiki or walkthrough. But some day I ll make it to the bottom of this constantly-shifting cave from Hell. And then I ll die a random, stupid death, and do it all over again.
PHIL When I left the Xbox 360 version of Spelunky, I d hit a crippling state of being just good enough at it to be annoyed by how bad I was. Even the smallest mistake in the Mines would prompt me to restart. I knew that I could do better, and that I d have to if I wanted to ever complete the game, but the frustration of this pursuit for perfection ultimately drove me away from the game.
The PC version s Daily Challenge changed that completely. With a single shot at each day s seed, each run took on a new significance. Where before a snakebite on 1-1 would lead to a deliberate suicide and restart, now it was a reminder to redouble my caution and an opportunity to improve my technique. It was the PC release that taught me to roll with Spelunky s unpredictability, and it was that lesson that let me eventually complete the game.
EVAN Spelunky is our Mario. It hasn t had the same impact (although it s fun to imagine what gaming would be like if Spelunky had been released in 85), but it s far and away the most important platformer to ever grace the PC. As an FPS player, what I appreciate most is how well tuned the subtleties of movement, distance and danger are in Spelunky the agility and needle-threading that happens when you re pushing yourself to get that extra gem, rob every store, or reach Yama with an eggplant as your only item. That, and I just love the sound it makes when I pick up gems, ugh. It s immediately brain-tickling.
TONY I m always surprised people don t talk more about what a great spectator game Spelunky is. The threats are obvious and urgent, the action varied, accessible and non-stop. At parties, on someone s big TV, I can watch for hours as others run around, shriek, kiss pugs and die. This is just as well, because I m not actually any good at it myself. Never mind: I respect it hugely. I love the magic of procedural games, and I love that someone has somehow channeled that magic into the familiar strictures of the platformer, to create a game that is at once cute, homicidal and infinite.
TYLER I m just bad enough at Spelunky to be emotionally crippled every time I try to play. I m impatient. I bunny hop around like it s Counter-Strike. I take leaps of faith without looking below. I don t value my inventory. And then I die. And cry. But at least I can t yell BS! The randomisation can be cruel, but the fantastic generation algorithm and consistent platforming put me in control of my fate. I abuse that control because I m too eager to see what s next.
I am exactly the wrong person to play Spelunky, but luckily for me I can live vicariously through my friends. Like Tony, I love watching livestreams, and I m in awe of players who can coolly make decisions while disarming traps and whipping spiders. Watching them struggle is like watching a Japanese gameshow contestant stumble through an obstacle course designed for maximum humiliation: harrowing, hilarious, and endlessly entertaining.
Dec 30, 2013
The holidays are a time for family gatherings, massive dinners, mildly disappointing presents, and visitations by ghosts who show you harrowing visions of what might have been. This year, the Ghost of Video Games Past showed me what the games of 2013 would have been like if graphics cards had never been invented! I have no idea why he did that. The Ghost of Video Games Past is a little weird.
Even with its improved graphics, the 2013 version of Spelunky retained both the charm and frustration of the original. Of course, improved graphics don t matter when you remove the graphics altogether. Let s unfurl a rope and descend into Spelunky: The Text Adventure!