Spelunker HD Deluxe Review (PS4)
Developed: Tozai Games
Published: ININ Games/GmBh
Release Date: August 6th,2021
*Game provided to me by PRHound
''Explore at your own risk''
Spelunker HD Deluxe is the most recent remaster of the classic title, Spelunker, that is developed by Tozai games and published by ININ games. Last time we saw this game was on Playstation 3 as Spelunker HD, but now its back once more to terrorize our brains with new features, but still that good ol classic game play. But, is it worth it to once again re-release this title or should they have just ported an already existing HD version of this game? Only one way to find out, so lets go!
Go away. There isn't one. Off with you. Mine.. your own business.. hahaha... ok.
With Spelunker being around since the days of Atari and NES, one would think that most people would know by now just what type of game this is or even what they're getting into before playing, but surprisingly, I've seen quite a few people who have never even heard of Spelunker or even played it in general. Which is pretty odd to me. But were not here to talk about the people that are out of the loop(those poor souls), were here to see if this game is actually worth your time and money and if its warranted to pick up this version of the game. Easy and quick answer to that is both a yes and no. I'll explain why that is the further along I get with this review because its not as clear cut and cry as ''yes its this or no its that'' due to the type of game it can be, in both a polarizing and entertaining way.
Spelunker HD Deluxe is a very polarizing game due to its level of difficulty. At its core this game is extremely hard due to the mechanics it utilizes with one hit kills. The objective of the game requires you to move down various caves and mines to collect keys and other collectibles along the way, but as you make your trek through all the dangers, you will encounter fire pits, falling rocks, steam, bats and other hazards that want nothing more than to ruin your day and kill you. Should you touch anything I mentioned here, it is one hit death every single time and you're sent right back to the beginning of the level. That's right, say you journey for around ten minutes through a section of a cave, trying to find the perfect route to go in and collect all the keys needed to advance further through the level and then you die? well tough luck kid, back to the beginning you go and you have to start all over. That is unless you make it a minor checkpoint, where if you die, you'll respawn at that section, but they're very scarce, sadly to say. This is why Spelunker can be narrowed down to a big game of trial and error. Making it both rewarding, but insanely difficult as well, so much to the point that it might drive you nuts with annoyance and frustration.
Now there is a way to stop the annoyances a little bit by using a save trick, but even then the task is still tedious. In order to get around a game over by losing all your lives, while also being able to learn the level easier, the next time you reach a mini check point section of a level, save your game, go back to the main menu and re-load that game. Doing this will allow you keep your lives, even if you die, while also starting you off at the difficult spot in which you left off last. Sure this won't stop your headache all together, but it will give you as the player a much needed stress reducer by being able to play a section of a level and learning it quicker, rather than having to constantly start a new level all over again. So ok you have one hit kills, you have starting over at the beginning of the level every time you die, you have to use a save trick to get around the annoyance of said staring over, so that must mean the frustrations are all behind us, right.... uhh.. right guys? no? well shit. Well now we come to the way you actually play the game with its platforming, which we very loosely use the phrase ''platforming''. Why is that? well allow me to explain briefly before I get into the things I actually DID like about the game, because believe it or not, I actually do like things about this title and its not all just negative nancy here.
Spelunker doesnt function as a normal platformer where you can just jump, climb and fall to platforms on a whim and continue on your merry way, that would be far too easy. Instead, the game makes you focus on precision and timing of your jumps and how you climb off ladders or ropes. If you are too far from the ground, more than like one foot away from the floor and jump off a platform or off a rope, its instant death. Yes thats right. You instantly die if you aren't at the exact elevation the game requires you to be at. This can be extremely hazardous when you're trying to run from enemy ghosts when you're already stuck on a platform or mid climb. You're basically screwed. Yes you can use a spray can to kill ghosts that haunt you, but only when you're at a stand still. Falling from short distances, one hit kills, spread out checkpoints, all these seem like a game destined to be awful, judging from how much I'm talkin down about it right? well not exactly. It's not all hell fire and brimstone. There are positives to this game that actually make it a rather enjoyable experience. Believe it or not.
All the negatives I named could also be seen as positives depending on the type of player you personally are. For people that are of the modern era where games nowadays seemingly hold your hand, you will find everything I named increasingly annoying and a turn off. However, if you grew up in an era like myself in which games kicked your ass left and right and it forced you to discipline yourself, think harder and strategize your movements, then you will get a pleasant joy out of completing Spelunker. I wont sugar coat it, this game at times, while yes, is hard at times, but certain aspects of it get a little bit unfair, but that's also why it has charm. Starting a section of a level you have no idea what you're going to run into, Whether its finding secrets and collectibles, dodging indiana jones like boulders that chase you, ride in minecarts while dodging pyros of fire, dodging sink holes that lead to your death. All of these makes the game extremely intense and can give you a rush when you're in a position of only having one life left before a game over. You become so focused on learning the level, strategizing different techniques to use to get around a specific enemy or area and everything in your brain suddenly just clicks together. A level that was hard and frustrating, suddenly becomes a breeze, you find yourself having the time of your life because the feeling of self accomplishment from beating something you didnt think you could just an hour earlier, is such a great feeling. This is where I feel Spelunker excels.
When you decide you have had enough with the regular game, you're free to take on modes such as Champions mode. In this mode, it takes everything you experienced before and doubles it to extreme from the concepts you just witnessed during your last playthrough. Makes you learn to adapt and survive even more than before and this should not be attempted unless you genuinely love your time with the game. You're also able to take part in online missions with strangers or your friends, but sadly, the overall online community is completely barren and dead. I tried multiple times to get something going, for like a good half hour to an hour and not one match was made. Unless you have a friend to play with, you will most likely never experience this mode, which is a bummer. This seems like a game that would be a ''misery loves company'' type of game where you would be able to suffer equally and laugh just as hard with a friend of your choosing.
At the end of the day, Spelunker HD Deluxe ends up as a mixed bag to me. Sure I like the difficulty level and the feeling of accomplishment you get for getting past an obstacle that was once tough to you, the graphics are smooth and cute and its a great art style, plus the game itself can actually be pretty lengthy. However, with the repetitive nature of the game with some of the hazards seemingly being unfair on purpose, online component of the game being dead, game play that gets uneven in difficulty, headaches that can come from playing the same beginning of a stage over and over, checkpoints spread out too far to where trial and error can go from a feeling of self accomplishment to a feeling of anguish, I don't know if I could honestly, from my perspective, recommend this game at its current $25 price tag. So my personal recommendation would wait till this title drops to around $10-$15. So with all this being said. My verdict is clear, GameNChick says WAIT