Not a Porno: Spelunker for the NES

Though its got a funny name and will invariably fuck you, there’s no nudity as far as I can tell. The Spelunker I’m referring to is a video game, released in 1983 for the Atari 8-bit computer platform and later ported all over the place, including to the NES. And, of course, this is the version we’ll be discussing. Or rather I will, as you’re not allowed to talk here. Except for in the comments, and even then I wield a godlike power over it. Hell yeah.

::cough::

There’s a very active weiner under there.

An arcade style platformer in that there is some high score hunting in addition to level goals, Spelunker places you in control of some dickhead poking around in a mine where he clearly doesn’t belong. It’s your job to collect keys so you can unlock doors and find the level exit. In between you and this elaborate glory are about 100,000 things that can kill you, from ghosts to power-shitting bats, floor geysers, overhead geysers, cracks, crevices, total fucking bullshit, gravity and more. Honestly, nearly everything kills you and does so efficiently. The falling damage comes swift and with great brutality, like an angry rhinoceros in heat. If you’re not the kind of person that can concentrate and inch along, turn back now.

IGN gave Spelunker a 2.5/10, Questicle gave it an F. Sure, IGN is a joke, and Dylan didn’t often spend a reasonable amount of time with each game, but everyone says the same thing: cheap deaths, bad mechanics, cheap deaths.  Yes, if you jump off of something even slightly too high, you’re dead. Same thing in real life, no? See, I choose to think of Spelunker as an “amateur mining simulator,” in that dying all the time would be the realistic outcome – only in real life you’d tumble a bit, scream in pain, watching in horror at bones protruding from your torn flesh, and then bleed out all alone, eventually costing the taxpayers money to fish your corpse out of a hole. But whatever. The fact is, I wouldn’t fault anyone for disliking this game because of its nature, but does that mean its a “bad game?” Maybe, but not by default. That kind of thinking is dumb and embarrassing and you should be ashamed of yourself. The mechanics, while obviously quite grueling, are consistent and purposeful rather than sloppy. With a little patience and effort it’s really not that insurmountable. I sure as shit can’t do it, but the potential is obvious.

Move dickhead, move!

Now that I’ve blown your mind, lets hear about the gameplay. As you move your total dickhead through the caverns there are all sorts of things to collect, from flares to scare away the shitting bats to items that give points, keys and other random stuff that keeps your slowly-depleting energy level up (most logically this is your hat-light battery… if it gets too low… surprise: you die). There are ladders and ropes to climb, mine carts to roll around in, etc. You have some kind of acid spray gun that slowly kills ghosts because, why not? You’ve also got your standard jumpin’ around, doin’ shit kinda shit.

Graphics and sound wise, there’s nothing special about what’s happening, though it does absolutely nail that arcade feel. In fact, I’d say Spelunker does this better than most games of the kind on this system. Just plug in an NES Advantage and I bet you’ll start hemorrhaging quarters. Mainly because that controller would probably make it even harder.

Behold, an exaggeration.

Honestly, for such a widely derided game, Spelunker has one hell of a legacy. Aside from all of the ports I mentioned, there was an Arcade and NES (Japan only) sequel, it was re-released on the virtual console for Wii, Wii U and 3DS, and there were a number of remakes. Spelunker HD was a downloadable game for the PS3, which won a “best sales award” from Sony (who also released it, so do the math on that one…). Square Enix also made a sequel, called Spelunker World, which was free-to-play on the PS4. And even on top of all that, a there’s a fantastic homage release called Spelunky from Mossmouth (PC, Xbox 360, PS3, PS4, Vita, Chrome OS) that sits pretty firmly as one of my own personal favorites, having won the PC Gamer Game of the Year award for 2013.

 

So what does all of this mean? Almost nothing. Just give it a try. You may find something you like that’s still dirt cheap in this bloated retro game market.

 

By Gamesman Anus

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