Okay, so now that I have completed* Spelunky, I obviously feel like I’m in a position to dole out advice on how to do it. This isn’t basic tips or do’s and don’ts like Tom Francis’ blog post from a few years back but more of a general attitude with which to approach the gameplay.
Spelunky – as I’ve said before – is a complex game. Each playthrough presents the player with a huge amount of tiny decisions from the mundane – how to kill the bat heading towards me? – to the strategic – what is my goal for this level? Cash-in-hand? The damsel? Ghost mining? Some specific achievement? Misc.? Complex games tend to develop a body of thoughts on strategy. So the question is: Is abstract strategy applicable to a game like Spelunky or is success just a matter of pure muscle memory?
I did it. I finally nailed that sucker. The ‘ironman’ way and incidentally also the first time ever and only the second time I got to Olmec’s lair. When my phone gave a a little noise after the whooping and the yelling and the celebrating had subsided, my first thought was that Derek Yu had texted me to congratulate me in person. Man, this feels good.
I don’t wanna go all Oscar overboard but ahem… I wanna thank the guy who wrote this excellent piece on how playing the game helped him cope with multiple sclerosis. I’m sure it’ll inspire much greater things but for me it just nudged me not to give up on a bad start. A lesson for life as well as Spelunky. And the guys who created The Stanley Parable. Taking a one hour break from Spelunky to play the existential mouse-inna-maze put the right perspective on what I was trying to ‘achieve’. It’s utterly ridiculous but that doesn’t mean we don’t care.
It’s been a while since I stopped aiming for completion in Spelunky. It’s a bit like Proust’s À la Recherche du Temps Perdu: Someday, you tell yourself, someday I’ll do it. I’ll sit down and wrestle that son of a bitch to the ground. Until then I’ll just have a gander every now and again and enjoy it without setting my sights on anything above and beyond that. That’s for Spelunky, that is. I don’t know if there is a Proust analog. Just leafing through Swann’s Way or sniffing Sodom and Gomorrah and dreaming of the day when you’ll do it for real.
I’m getting sidetracked. Actually I just wanted to celebrate a Spelunky first, the first such in a long time. It is – as the headline hints – not an achievement but it bally well should be. I got knocked out by a stupid monkey on the altar of Kali. And she accepted my offering. What a way to go.