Spelunker HD Review

In 1983, the world was introduced to Tim Martin’s version of an everyday explorer, whose sole ability was being weaker than everyone else. 23 years later, his grand vision is brought back new and improved. Spelunker HD lets players strike it rich; or fall into an abyss with the many other explorers!

Lets kick off the HOTs and NOTs:


Better Than The Original

Like a lot games this generation, Spelunker HD is a reboot of the 1984 NES edition of Spelunker. While the game is a reboot, it does a great job honoring the original. While this is not the NES game that only featured 6 stages, this is a 100-floored monster! Featuring different themes for each area to break up the “been there, done that” feeling you might have.

While a lot was taken from the original: ghosts, bats and other monsters; geysers, flames and other traps; the stage designs (Cave, Pyramids, and the “Floor ending” Idol.); the games music and that it is possible to die from almost everything: there is just as much added! In fact, so much is added if you didn’t play the original you might be in for a surprise of what was there and wasn’t actually there.

Classic and HD graphics

When you start up a game, you will be greeted with one of the best options ever! Classic or HD graphics; Classic has an original feel, using redone and higher quality sprites to get that original feel. This is done so well that some of the monsters which were added later on seem to flow perfectly into the level design. The graphics are animated brilliantly that players who’ve never played the game before won’t know some of the monsters have been added on.

PlayStation 3 Classic Graphics

NES Original

Along with an amazingly re-imagined classic mode, the HD sports great detail. While it does not just look great, there are some minor things you can also do. It allows players to move their head, crouch and has improved animations. No matter which mode you select you get a different experience, which adds some new depth to a later cycle.

Post-Game modes

If you manage to beat the first 100 stages, you hit floor “2 – 1”. When you hit the new area it adds some new elements to make the game harder. While the modes are not vastly different, like invisible keys, more hardcore explorers will find the new challenge quite difficult and rewarding. For those not interested in something a little different, there is Spelunker Black. Black limits the view of the whole game much like a few stages in the normal mode. This adds some difficulty for those worried about the next trap or obstacle around the corner. If you like challenges like that, than this game is for you, since you can only focus on the task at hand. For those looking for more you’re in luck!


After you beat an area in Single Player, you unlock that area in multiplayer. It supports up to six players without hassle and an array of new stages. While some of the harder stages come back with a vengeance, they have new elements and more keys to keep players guessing. This is a great mode because it also supports local split screen and a solution for those without a microphone to help you make sure those hard hats really work.

While it’s hard enough to just beat areas in multiplayer, they added a VIP winner to add a degree of competition. While it doesn’t care about your ratio, this makes aspiring-spelunkers into experts if they can rack up the points.

Not only is there co-op, there’s a race mode for competitive fans. Although it is not the most interesting aspect of this game, it adds a degree of fairness of equally matched players. In addition, it will give some more of the “hopeless” players a chance to catch up and ultimately win.


Fixing the biggest error in the original, HD manages to use the same control scheme. Flares take out birds/bats and light the room, bombs blow up rocks and scare animals. Beyond this, you have the dreaded ropes. Unlike the original you have the power to turn on or off rope assist. This prevents you from dying by jumping off a rope, which was a common problem and biggest complaint of the original.

The game also has simple controls. While directions and the square button controls your skills and X is your jump, you will find yourself amazed at how complex mastering these skills can really be. Since you can die to almost anything, this includes 2cm drops; you will find the leeway nearly nonexistent. This leaves you to do one of two things: Get better or try till it works. Since this can be maddening, you get a break after 10 levels, and you have the right to save and retry that area a nearly endless amount of times!


As you progress deeper in the caves, the challenges change. This makes using these skills a bit of a challenge by forcing you to figure out what is going to come at you next! Some of them are downright perfect! Some might be mental traps, like you expect something to go off and a spike pit kills you or a wall comes down on you.

Not only do the monsters change, some game elements are also unique to the area alone! Surfaces become covered in ice, causing you to slip and slide; the entire level may have random earthquakes or be in complete darkness; while others will just have unique monsters or traps. While exploring, players are sure to run into some things that will shock them, look out for the phoenix which only appears on one floor. You’re in for a unique and amazing trip underground!


Steep Learning Curve

After the long elevator ride down, you instantly get thrown into a world of intense traps and nearly impossible challenges. While you may or may not get used to it fast… When you start you’re required skills and expertise used up to the high 80’s levels. You’re bound to get mad and frustrated. This is what the game is known for; however if you master it, it isn’t that hard or complex.

In addition as you go deeper the game will constantly change the challenge, and even add new game dynamics for multiplayer. Some of the challenges players have in store for them are; death by too many people on a rope, ghosts splitting apart, poisonous mushrooms, spiked floors and even robots to name just a few. Much like a real cave, you will never know what’s next. More casual and later generation gamers might not enjoy this challenge and added difficulty, so it’s something you should keep in mind.


Spelunker is of an acquired taste. With all the added features, and additional elements to master, you can find yourself playing for several cycles after. Considering the price and all the bonus stuff included a Platinum trophy, Home items and online, it’s a steal. There really is something for everyone if you enjoy a 5th generation platform!