Spelunky (Vita)

I had a love-hate relationship with Spelunky.  I loved it.  It hated me.  It screwed my attempts at progress every step of the way.  Like the time I had built up ten hearts and much of the best equipment of the game, only to have a spider set off a dart trap which blew up a crate which caused a shopkeeper to declare me a terrorist, leading to me getting spotted and murdered by someone in his union on the next stage.  Spelunky is full of stories like that.  Speak to anyone who has put more than an hour into it and I’m sure you’ll hear tales of how the game fucked them over in ways both infuriating and hilarious.

Despite being pitiful at Spelunky, I still enjoy it.  It’s one of those very rare punishers that gets it right.  Yet, it’s been a while since I’ve played it.  The reason being that its novelty wore thin after about a week.  When I found myself with time to kill, something always seemed like a better option than Spelunky.  Thus, it went on to collect virtual dust inside my Xbox’s memory.  And then came Spelunky on Vita.

And yes, the damsels are back. Apparently this has been the source of controversy, the theory being that having girls in need of rescuing somehow reinforces negative stereotypes. That's a thing right now because the game collective hive mind mentality tells us that, while games most certainly DO NOT cause violent behavor under any circumstance and anyone who says otherwise is an out of touch old person like a politican or a lawyer or something, games most certainly can and do lead to sexism. And also lucrative Kickstarter campaigns.

And yes, the damsels are back. Apparently this has been the source of controversy, the theory being that having girls in need of rescuing somehow reinforces negative stereotypes. That’s a thing right now because the game collective hive mind mentality tells us that, while games most certainly DO NOT cause violent behavior under any circumstance and anyone who says otherwise is an out of touch old person like a politician or a lawyer or something, games most certainly can and do lead to sexism. And also lucrative Kickstarter campaigns. Anyway, that’s me rescuing the damsel after having just rescued the Mexican from a trapped coffin, because that’s what heroes do.  And no, I did not kill the shopkeeper.  He killed himself after I accidentally destroyed his shop with a giant boulder.  I also accidentally destroyed the alter that I was going to sacrifice both the damsel and the Mexican on. Which I admit, is slightly less heroic. Unless you’re a Pagan.

First off, you should know that I almost never pay for a game more than once.  There are Nintendo fanboys who could recreate one of those jetpack things they use over water using just their erect penises and the semen they generate from the prospect of Wind Waker HD.  I don’t get it.  I (or more accurately my parents since I was 13 when it originally came out) already paid $50 for it once upon a time, and I sure as fuck ain’t paying another $50 for the same game I already played ten years ago.  Typically, any time I replay the same game a year or more after the fact, I don’t like it as much.  I got Shadow of the Colossus HD for Christmas in 2011 (with overrated Ico stuck to it like a fucking tumor), and cringed.  A well-intentioned Christmas present for sure, but I knew something that my boyfriend and father did not: you see things replaying a game that you didn’t notice in your joy-filled delirium the first time around.  Consequently, I had trouble understanding what it was I saw in Shadow the first time around, and that’s a game I truly loved.  So for a game like Spelunky, putting up extra $11.99 (God bless PlayStation Plus) for something that I mostly just tolerated seemed like madness.

Spelunky on Vita is pretty much identical to its console big brothers.  Same graphics.  Same controls.  And every rage-filled gripe I had about it before is still there and still has the potential to make my blood boil.  Stuff like:

-Why the FUCK is the randomly generated layout so God Damned unfair sometimes?  They’ll put the golden idol right next to a store, guaranteeing that you will piss off the shopkeeper if you attempt to steal it.  Which of course means every future shopkeeper will try to murder you.

-While we’re on the subject, why is the shopkeeper so easy to set off?  I’ve played Spelunky enough that at least three times I’ve been going about my business only to have “TERRORIST!” pop up on-screen, usually when I’m not even fucking aware that there was a shop nearby.  This is also why the game desperately needs a replay/video sharing function.  I want to know what random, whacky series of events got me framed for descration of the store.

-Why do dark rooms exist?  As if Spelunky wasn’t difficult enough to work with, the game has to randomly turn off the lights?  Does anyone else get the impression that if Spelunky existed as a corporeal child, it would pull the wings off flies and blow up frogs with firecrackers?

-Why isn’t there an extreme pussy mode for people like me that tosses the whole roguelike bullshit aside in favor of getting to retain items?

-Why the fuck do ice levels still exist in games?  I thought we all collectively agreed that they should be abolished back in 1998?

Spelunky has ice stages with bad control. OF COURSE IT DOES!

Spelunky has ice stages with bad control. OF COURSE IT DOES!

-Why the hell doesn’t House immediately talk to Wilson whenever someone coughing up a liver gets wheeled into Princeton-Plainsboro?  They could talk about the weather or Cuddy’s breasts, or whatever until he has his epiphany. It should only take twenty minutes at most and would save a lot of lives and money.  Sorry, I was just seeing if you were paying attention.

-Why isn’t there more uniformity in the game?  Randomly generated maps.  FINE!  But shouldn’t certain stages always have stuff in them?  The alter, or the idol, or a secret door to the Black Market seem like they should always be hidden in a specific level, not possibly in the next one.  The same goes for special events like the one that opens up the alien ship, which I actually stumbled upon on accident.  Sure, it makes events like this special.  On the other hand, it makes actually trying to get them tedious.

So I wasn’t planning on buying Spelunky on my Vita.  Then I was talked into it by my readers, and thank God for that.  Spelunky, our little hateful bundle of joy, has found its home.  It’s tailor-made for a portable console, where you can pick up and play it with no pressure to perform well.  Spelunky is the perfect portable platformer.  Pick it up when you have five to ten minutes to spare.  Die a couple of times.  When you need to do something, you can easily put it down (especially if you already binge-played it last year and are somewhat burned out on it).  But when you have plenty of time on hand, you can put in extended sessions and maybe make a little progress.  You know, before the fates of the game conspire to fuck you over.

I knew I liked Spelunky.  I just didn’t know how much I liked it until the time came to rank it on the IGC Leaderboard.  Well, I can say without hesitation, I like Spelunky on Vita more.  In fact, I would be shocked if I ever touch it on XBLA again.  Hell, I didn’t even bother downloading the PS3 version that came with this.  Fuck that, why would I?  The Vita version is everything you should want in a portable game.  It doesn’t require a huge time investment, but is addictive enough that you can play it until the battery is drained.  Beautiful graphics.  Tight control (and actually, I found some of the annoying items that screw up the controls, like the climbing glove, to be slightly less annoying on Vita), and plenty of replay value.  I’ll probably never be good at Spelunky, but that’s fine.  It’s nice to know that it’s right there in my purse, ready to kick my ass during every smoke break and trip to the bathroom.  If you haven’t already got it, and you’re one of the six people beside me that bought a Vita, it’s a must own.

imageSpelunky was developed by Mossmouth

IGC_Approved$14.99 (I paid $11.99 with PS+) never once looked at a game and said “you have to rescue a girl in this game.  It’s so right. Me and my vagina are useless” in the making of this review. 

Spelunky is Chick-Approved and ranked on the Indie Gamer Chick LeaderBoardConsider the PS3/XBLA versions also Chick Approved, and drop their rank about 30 to 40 spots below the Vita version. 

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