The Eight Rules of Spelunky
Spelunky is not an easy game. Your first few attempts are unlikely to last very long at all and it can be quite a frustrating experience at first. I’ve compiled this list in an attempt to aid people in this situation and provide a few tips which will hopefully help you be a more successful explorer!
Rule 1: Do not anger the shopkeeper.
As discussed in my previous Spelunky article, the shopkeepers that inhabit the game are not my favourite people in the world. They are a ruthless bunch and messing with them will nearly always result in you meeting an early grave. Should you happen to provoke them, an incredibly easy mistake to make, they will whip out their shotgun and start firing at you like a lunatic, it only takes one hit from them to kill you so this really isn’t a good situation to find yourself in.
In addition to this, even if you do manage to escape the shopkeeper after unleashing his wrath, all the following shopkeepers you encounter will be angry with you. Staying on good terms with them is (nearly always) vital to getting very far into the game.
Rule 2: DO NOT anger the shopkeeper.
Seriously, I’m not joking, there’s a reason this rule is at the top of the list. It really doesn’t take much to set them off. I recall an incident where I was perusing the shop floor when a spider jumped through the door. Naturally I didn’t want to be killed so I slayed the critter with a quick slash from my whip. The shopkeeper’s reaction? A thank you for ridding his shop of a giant arachnid? Nope. He shot me. How ungrateful…
Rule 3: Stand away from pots.
You will quickly learn that the pots which are dotted all over the levels of Spelunky are not always home to precious loot, more often than not they are hiding some vicious creature. In these instances cracking open the pot while standing over it will result in the snake/spider/scorpion etc. getting a free attack on you. Health is scarce in Spelunky and standing away from the pot (or throwing it at something) will prevent unnecessary loss of it.
Rule 4: Don’t be too greedy.
Don’t get me wrong, loot is pivotal in Spelunky. It’s where you high score comes from and the items you can purchase with it are pretty much essential to getting a decent way through the game. However, greed is something that you must keep under control. Taking that golden idol may look seem like a good idea but if there’s a shop beneath it then the giant boulder will surely destroy the shop, and we all know what happens when the shopkeeper gets mad…
Rule 5: Always look down.
It might seem somewhat obvious to look before you leap but the number of times I’ve done it only to fall onto a pit of spikes is ridiculous. Holding the down button will shift the camera a little below you, allowing you to make sure you have a safe landing.
Rule 6: Don’t get bogged down with too many items.
Items are really important in Spelunky and they come in varying forms. Some just give you a stat boost or special effect, like the spring boots which let you jump higher or the climbing gloves which allow to climb up walls, while others such as a the machete or the mattock act as weapons or tools and must be carried around. This is fine until find a damsel or golden idol and have to carry them to the exit too. This results in you wasting valuable times running back and forth carrying each thing in turn. If you have time, fine, but most of time you don’t and it’s usually best just to ditch something.
Rule 7: Buy as many bombs as you can.
Bombs are really useful. They can be used to kill larger foes or give you a bit of extra mobility. Want to avoid a nasty looking area of the map? No problem, just use a bomb to create a new route by blasting your way into another room. However you only start the game four, so make sure you pick up as many as you can from the shops.
Rule 8: Be fast, but not too fast.
Spelunky is a game where you’re always under pressure from the clock. You have just two and a half minutes to finish each level otherwise a ghost, which will kill you with just a single touch, will appear on the map and swiftly make its way to you, time is therefore of the essence. Trying to speed through each level however is not the way to go. This tactic will lead to mistakes and, soon enough, your death and the end of the game. Dart traps are littered throughout the levels and running through the map is a great way of guaranteeing that you’ll get shot by one (although if your reactions are good enough you can whip the darts away). So don’t dawdle, always be aware of the time, but proceed with caution!
Now I should add that I’m no Spelunky expert, it’s an incredibly complex game that I’m still learning new things about all the time. These tips won’t be of much help to more advanced players, but I’d like to think that for newer explorers (perhaps those who picked up the game in the Steam sale) this list will provide some solid advice.