Go Back to Search 

General Description

Spelunker HD is a 2D platformer developed by Irem and released on the PlayStation Network in November 2010. It is a remake of 1983's Spelunker and offers a completely new graphic design, plenty of new stages and multiplayer support for up to six players.

In Spelunker players are challenged with exploring a series of increasingly difficult caves in order to collect the treasures within. Players have a handful of tools at their disposal that allow them to deal with the many hazards in their path. Bombs and flares can be collected throughout the caves and are used to dispatch enemies and open passages. Ghosts periodically appear and can approach the player from any direction. They can be dispatched by a few bursts of air from the player's tank, but the tank's constantly-decreasing supply means players will need to manage it carefully, taking care to refill it by reaching various checkpoints.

Educationally the game's biggest strength is in problem solving. The game does a great job of adding new challenges and tweaking enemy behavior throughout the game's many stages, forcing players to carefully approach each new challenge and figure out how to deal with it based on past experiences.

Grade by Game Type Overall Grade
C- C-
Ratings at a Glance
Facts: 1 Title: SPELUNKER HD
Creativity: 4 Publisher: Irem Software Engineering
Business: 1 Developer: Irem Software Engineering
People: 4 Year: 2010
Problem: 4 Genre: Platformer
Simulation: 0 Strengths: popularity, problem, people
Popularity: 6 Platforms: PlayStation 3
Extra: 0  
Rating Details

Classroom Facts

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.

Creativity & Imagination

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 stages.

Business Skills

Business skills are not involved in Spelunker HD aside from the conservation of bombs, flares and oxygen during spelunking.

People Skills

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 effective.

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.

Problem Solving

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.

Controls & Options

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.


Spelunker HD was rated Everyone by the ESRB with a descriptor for Comic Mischief.