Spelunker HD does not emphasize classroom facts. A small map in the corner of the screen helps
give players an idea of a stage's layout.
By the Player:
Players are tested in new ways on each new stage. New enemies and traps are
constantly introduced that are designed to confuse or surprise players, and it
is only with experience that players will learn to deal with them all. At first
the game is about experimentation on the player's part, but as time goes by it
is more a test of skill and knowledge.
The game is about exploration above all else, though the catch is that pretty
much every corner of the cave must be explored in order for the next stage to
open up. There are however numerous hidden treasures that reward players with
higher scores, and a hidden picture fragment on each floor contributes to a
mysterious mural that appears during loading screens.
By the Developer:
Spelunker HD is a tight, challenging game. Players have a handful of
precise tools at their fingers, and the game's unforgiving difficulty requires
them to learn the uses of each one well. It is easy to make it to the eighth or
ninth floor of a cave only to be defeated by a predictable trap and have to go
back to square one. The other side of this is that every mistake is on the
player's shoulders; while some of the game's rules may seem frustrating at
first, once they've been learned there's no reason that most of the game's
challenges can't be overcome regularly. This challenging and rewarding kind of
game design is hard to find in more mainstream titles.
Which is why it may be no surprise
that Spelunker HD is in fact a remake of sorts. The original game's
controls and ideas are carried over exactly - players can even toggle over to
the 1983 graphics - along with an extensive multiplayer mode and dozens of new
Business skills are not involved in Spelunker
HD aside from the conservation of bombs, flares and oxygen during
Spelunker HD contains a full hundred levels only available for
multiplayer play. Players can easily join games with their friends both
splitscreen and online, and even earn titles based on their performances.
Cooperative levels are structured
much like solo ones - a group of keys usually needs to be discovered in order
to move to the next area - but these stages tend to branch out much more,
encouraging players to split up the many challenges at hand. Players share a
collective pool of lives, and if a player falls after this pool has run out he
can be saved by another spelunker within a short time frame.
Because of the game’s focus on
exploration and maze-like level design it becomes important that players
communicate when collecting keys on each level in order to save each other time
and prevent unnecessary risks. There is a wheel of icons players can use to
signal one another, though using the PS3’s voice chat is obviously more
Players are also encouraged to compete for hidden items, as each player's score
is shown at the result screen after each cave.
A handful of additional maps act as
raceways for players to compete on and incorporate a large selection of the
traps and hazards found in the main game.
Spelunker HD's obstacles can often be separated and looked at
individually: snakes roam back and forth in small pits, and can be scared with
a bomb or jumped over; bats attack players from above and can be made to hide
by launching a flare; players can run and jump back and forth, but falling as
far as your character's height results in a death; every couple minutes an
alarm sounds that means a ghost is going to pop out from one side of the screen
or another. Even the player's tools - bombs and flares - can result in deaths
if not used cautiously.
The early stages of the game introduce these and other challenges discreetly,
but by the time players are near the end of the first cave they're being
combined deviously to result in any number of unique tricks. The game's 200
stages - half of which are built for cooperative play - contain dozens and
dozens of clever, surprising ideas for players to discover.
Spelunker HD is
not a simulation game.
Spelunker HD has been praised since its release, particularly for its
length and new multiplayer mode. Its difficulty has been both praised and criticized.
Spelunker HD contains a few standard audio and visual options. Players
can choose to switch the game over to the graphic style of the original 1983
release. Players can also choose to toggle an option called "rope
assist" which makes maneuvering along ropes a bit easier.
HD was rated Everyone by the ESRB with
a descriptor for Comic Mischief.