LadiesGamers Spelunky

Spelunky Review

Game: Spelunky
Genre: Platformer, Action
System: Nintendo Switch (also on Xbox, PS4, PS Vita and PC)
Developer|Publisher: Blitworks | Mossmouth
Age Rating: EU 7+ | US Teen
Price:  USA $9.99| UK £8.99 | EU € 9,99
Release Date: August 26th, 2021

Review code provided with many thanks to Mossmouth

Old Traditions

Spelunky was one of the first indie games to really catapult the roguelike genre back into the limelight. Opening the doors of inspiration to several other developers to attempt their own spin on the formula. Originally I first played this game back on the PS Vita and I have to say I was not taken with it. Initially, it just seemed like a brutally hard 2D platformer. But then one Christmas holiday I was looking for a game to sink some time into and Spelunky returned to my radar. Maybe it was the season or just the right place at the right time. But suddenly the formula clicked.

Now I have this weird tradition every Christmas where I play a few runs of this game in the morning before doing the long journey of visiting relatives and all the other stresses the holiday involves. But this game is not just for Christmas. I ended up enjoying it on multiple other systems and it still stands out as a go-to game when I need that quick fix of gaming goodness. Now it comes to Nintendo Switch and if you have somehow missed out on the phenomenon that is Spelunky. Now might be the time.

LadiesGamers Spelunky
Should have packed my warm jumper

The Walls are Shifting

Your quest is to enter a mysterious cave on a hunt for a golden idol. You have several characters to choose from like your typical adventurer, a robot and even a Viking. Before you begin your adventure you find a book that takes you through a useful tutorial of the controls and mechanics of the game. Controls are solid and easy to get to grips with but you may be surprised by some of the techniques you pick up yourself. Like walking over spikes and maybe hitting specific projectiles out of the air.

Once the tutorial is over you enter the cave system where the walls shift and adventure awaits. The quest for this idol though is not quite as simple as the film it takes inspiration from. Though there is an utterly brilliant trap where you can take a mini idol and a giant boulder falls from the ceiling destroying everything in its path; maybe you as well if you’re not quick enough.

You need to overcome multiple levels of increasing difficulty in Spelunky to be in with a chance to reach the ultimate prize. Levels are randomly generated filled with enemies, traps as well as many mysteries for the player to discover for themselves. While exploring each level is fun, don’t dawdle too long as a giant ghost will eventually appear after a set length of time. A single touch and it’s back to the beginning for you. 

LadiesGamers Spelunky
Every run is different

A lot of Options

When you start the game you have a few handy items at your disposal. You have your handy whip which will deal with most enemies, though you can also jump on most enemies heads like Mario. Levels are fully destructible. You can use bombs to destroy sections of the level to access secrets or just use a shortcut. You also have ropes to help you get to out of reach areas. Bombs and ropes are limited so you need to be careful with how you use them. You can find more as well as other useful items by finding them in crates or by buying them from a local vendor.

Just be careful not to anger him or you may find it particularly hard to get to the exit of each level. Other items you can find include new weapons like a shotgun, a knife or a unique wand. You can also find items like spiked boots to cause more damage to enemies you jump on, gloves to help you stick to walls and a teleport that helps you warp through walls. But be careful not to warp into a wall. Like the levels, these items can appear totally randomly and you also can’t necessarily take all of them with you so choose carefully.

LadiesGamers Spelunky
Don’t let the ghost touch you


This is a roguelike in its purest form. If you die you lose everything except the lessons you learned. You will die constantly and every time you do it’s right back to the very first level to attempt the quest all over again.

Very often a run would go very well for me. Then I make a little slip up like fall in a pit of spikes or get thrown about by an enemy and it just all falls apart. It’s fair that this design will understandably not gel with some gamers. However, thanks to the game’s random generation and solid controls it’s very hard not to sneak in another run even if you made exceptional progress before. This game features no difficulty settings and absolutely no accessibility features to make things more manageable. 

LadiesGamers Spelunky
The tutorial is simple to follow

Endless Replayability

A single run of Spelunky could potentially take you under 30 minutes. But there are so many secrets to discover in this game. There are hidden levels, bosses, items and unlockable characters to find. You can keep track of your discoveries with a handy codex book.

The more you delve into the game’s mysteries the higher the stakes become but it’s that risk-reward that keeps me returning run after run. You can enjoy this game in simple short bursts or hours at a time. There are no long load times or cutscenes. It just focuses fully on the gameplay. 

LadiesGamers Spelunky
Maybe the robot will have more luck this run


The game graphics are simple hand-drawn sprites. It’s a nice upgrade from the game pixelated origins on PC. There is a sort of childlike innocence to the sprite designs. Not so much for the enemies. You have snakes, bats, spiders (including giant ones) cavemen, yetis and even mummies. There is a lot of variety in the designs and these enemies become more vicious the further through the caves you get.

Environments are also nicely varied. You have your cave system, forest-like area and ice area but look carefully and you can find some very unique secret levels, like a close encounter and a trip inside a giant enemy. 

LadiesGamers Spelunky
Tunnel man can create shortcuts for you if you have the right item

Port Report

As far as ports go this is the complete Spelunky experience. The game can be played with up to four players locally or wirelessly. There is no online. As well as the main adventure you can attempt to try the game daily challenge. A fixed run where you have one chance to try to make your mark on the online leaderboard.

There’s also a deathmatch mode which you can enjoy with human players or even bots if you have no friends like me. There are no particular Switch exclusive features added to this version of the game but I can easily say it runs flawlessly on handheld and TV modes. There may not be a need to double dip on this if you still happily enjoy the game elsewhere including portably on the Vita. But still, it’s hard to resist when it’s Spelunky on Nintendo Switch. 

LadiesGamers Spelunky
I always get a chuckle out of the death screen

Conclusion – An Absolute Classic

Even all these years later Spelunky has still stood the test of time as one of the most original concepts in the roguelike genre. Brutally hard, but just the right amount of challenge that just pokes you to keep trying. Often I sit down to only play five minutes, which can lead to hours. Even though I probably sunk hundreds of hours into this game over the years it still somehow feels fresh to this day. An absolute masterpiece of gaming that one can finally enjoy on the Nintendo Switch. 

Final Verdict: Two Thumbs Up
Two thumbs up

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