|System: Xbox 360|
|Pub: Microsoft Studios|
|Release: July 4, 2012|
|Players: 1-4 (Local)|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
To help you get through all these creature-infested caves, you're going to need some tools. A good spelunker is a prepared spelunker, and that means you're going to need to familiarize yourself with the many tools you have at your disposal. Your basic items include the whip, which you'll need to keep enemies at a distance, the aforementioned bombs, and rope. Some of these things can be modified, like adding a sticky substance to your bombs so they can stick to walls and ceilings, bringing an extra layer of strategy to how you traverse the levels.
There are a lot of creatures waiting in the shadows of these caves, so you'll need to make sure you have a weapon handy at all times. Spelunky's arsenal is pretty impressive, including a bow, machete, pistol, shotgun, and, of course, the whip. If you're out of ammo, you can always use the myriad items littered about the cave floors as a projectile by tossing them at your foe. Taking down two oncoming bats with a well thrown skull is one of my prouder moments in recent gaming.
There's no shortage of horrors lurking in Spelunky's labyrinthine caves, ranging from aliens to bats, spiders, cultists, frogs (they're more dangerous than they sound), skeletons, mummies, vampires, and ghosts. The ghosts are particularly terrifying because they're big, can't be killed, and can easily kill you if they manage to reach you.
The four-player co-op is frantic fun because you really need to work together to survive. The only problem is that your teammates can hinder your progress just as easily as they can help it. One bad teammate can mean a lot of friendly fire and a fair amount of griefing, so I hope you've chosen your friends wisely. If you just can't fight the urge to push your friends off cliffs or into traps, the Deathmatch mode is probably better suited to you. It plays out like Bomberman if it were a platformer and had more variety. If you want to make sure you have the upper hand, feel free to practice against the A.I. bots so you can make sure that when you go up against your friends they won't stand a chance.
Spelunky looks and sounds exponentially better than its PC sibling and has near-infinite replay value, a fantastically quirky personality, and tons of things to do. It's just as fun finding new ways to make use of your tools and items as it is beating down any unfortunate creature that gets in your way. The option to play with a few friends is a very welcome addition, and despite the fairly steep difficulty this is a fantastic game to whip out at a party. If you're looking for a game that's as fun as it is challenging, Spelunky isn't likely to disappoint.
Date: July 9, 2012