Review: Spelunker (Virtual Console)

spelunker_artPlatform: Nintendo Wii U (also on Wii, 3DS)

Developer: Tozai Games

Publisher: Tozai Games

# of Players: 1

ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)

Official Site

Score: A- (90%)

Still going strong after 30 years, Spelunker is one of those great games that gets a lot of love and hate for what it puts you through. On one hand, it’s a challenging game packed with treasures to grab and a satisfying sense of accomplishment each time you clear a level. On the other hand, it’s a REALLY and infuriatingly challenging game thanks to “the weakest action hero in the history of gaming”, and yes, that’s a selling point of this gem, folks. If you’re no fan of trial and error, the combination of this terminally frail dude, the need for pinpoint control and collecting air supplies scattered around the levels while avoiding death from everything from a VERY short fall to the small assortment of enemies will have you screaming at your TV within seconds…
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Spelunker Falls Onto eShop for Nintendo Wii U/3DS – Velcro Gloves Not Included.

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Spelunker eShopAnd why would you need Velcro gloves, you ask? Well, I’m gathering you’ve never played Spelunker, the legendary game with “the weakest action hero in the history of video games” (and boy, is that ever true!). Since 1983, that fragile little miner guy has been a staple of gaming history who’s stood the test of time, inspiring many other games including Derek Yu’s rather spiffy homage Spelunky and probably helping to break a few too many controllers thrown at a wide range of televisions.

Anyway, after popping up in an HD version on the PlayStation Network, the original classic game is now (and finally) available for $4.99 on the Wii U and 3DS through Nintendo’s eShop (thank you, Tozai Games!), meaning you can see what all the fuss is about if you happen to own one of those consoles. The game certainly demands some fast reflexes as you scoot to nab treasure, avoiding death from above, below, left and right from bats, snakes, hot steam, electricity and falling from too-high spots (among other things). Not to mention that pesky ghost that pops up when you least expect it to get your heart racing.

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Now, why would anyone subject themselves to such torture you ask? Well, because it’s actually a ton of FUN, folks. That and it’s hard not to root for that little guy with no particular talents who can die at the drop of a hat forging onward into certain doom to accomplish his goal. I’d say that describes the human condition in a way. Or perhaps I’m thinking too much (again). Hey, everyone needs a hobby right? Mine is stretching my poor brain into assorted shapes. And playing the occasional game that makes me want to jump up and down on a controller (which I won’t be doing as that Wii U GamePad is pretty expensive)…