If you haven’t heard of Spelunky by now, you may have been living under a rock.
The tough as nails platformer has finally made its way to the PS3 and Vita, a first for the series to be portable. In fact, this portable transition is something I have been looking forward to for a while, for reasons I’ll explain later in the review.
First, a refresher for those that may not know what Spelunky is about. The game started as a free PC title before getting an enhanced version on Xbox 360. The newer version got ported to Steam and now has made its way to PS3/Vita.
Unfortunately, one mode that was left out of the latest port is a Steam-exclusive one: the Daily Challenge. I think putting a new level up daily on Vita version to try on the go would have been great, but not having the mode there doesn’t hurt the game any.
The premise of the game is simple. Each time you go into the mine it completely changes itself. You’re tasked with trying to get as far as you can in a mine, finding new worlds and plenty of treasure to collect along the way.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a diabolical platformer without plenty of traps and enemies. The mines always have plenty of enemies ready to quickly take your health down and traps that will instantly take you out if you aren’t paying attention. While you do have a whip to help out, along with bombs and rope to traverse the area, you really won’t be able to do huge damage without getting new weapons in the world or at the shop.
The shop can be a huge risk/reward for players. On its surface, you can buy what you need with treasure found and move on. However, you can also steal everything, which labels you a thief and has a shopkeeper chase you at each level. That also you to get items you normally couldn’t afford and the shotgun, one of the best weapons in the game. One false move at the end of a level, though, and the entire run can be over.
Besides finding new items and levels, there are also rare worlds to see, like inside a worm or the Black Market. The Golden Throne Room is also great to see, but can be a pain to get to because of how far into the game it actually is.
Like all great titles like this, the permanent death is never the games fault. Players are forced to learn each trap, enemy and what to do and build their skills better to keep progressing. Did you get killed by an arrow trap? Well, you soon learn to use a corpse or rock to set it off to move on. Find a spider that dropped down on you? Remember to look up and lure it down before killing it.
There are items that can help you try to extend a life. Damsels in distress can give an extra heart, and some items can even resurrect once dead or restore hearts by killing things. However, all this extra assistance can be taken away by one misstep.
You don’t have to adventure alone, though. There is a co-op mode to allow up to four people to check out mines together (and sabotage each other) and even a deathmatch mode to give people a way to vent aggression from dying to much. The deathmatch can also be played with bots, but I never had an interest to play more than a few times before going to more mines.
This brings me to the pros the Vita version has over the other systems. The biggest draw has to be the portability of the game. Most mines are short, lasting 5-10 minutes, with a full run sometimes taking only a half hour. This is the perfect time for an on-the-go title to play on the subway or while waiting to do something.
For multiplayer, the Vita is great because players don’t have to share the same screen. However, this means that they do each need a Vita and copy of the game, but considering the multiplayer has to be local, it may not be a big problem for groups that like to play together often. In addition, the game is a cross-buy title, meaning you could always just throw it on your PS3 to play as well.
The graphics have a nice polish to them, and aren’t boring to look at even after you see mine after mine. Plus, there are plenty of things that you may only see a few times that you’ll always be interested to try and find to see again.
- Perfectly refined gameplay.
- Vita version is great for gameplay on the go.
- You’ll never see the same mine twice.
- No online multiplayer.
- Daily Mode that Steam has is missing.
- Some random mines will give terrible starts compared to others.
Overall, Spelunky on Vita and PS3 is a great downloadable title to pick up. It ratchets the difficulty up yet always pushes you to be better and just make it a bit farther. If you need something for short bursts of play on the go, or have never checked out this addictive title, give it a shot.
Overall 4.3 out of 5