Digging Into Spelunker HD For PlayStation 3

One of the fourteen "unannounced" titles that Sony had on display at this year's Tokyo Game Show was Minna de Spelunker, a modern day remake of the 1985 NES platformer Spelunker for the PlayStation Network. Irem hasn't strayed far from the original, adding only high-definition graphics and up to four-person multiplayer. One can still play with an original 8-bit graphics setting, which was on display at Sony's and Irem's booth, even in split-screen modes. The HD version, while it looks technically better, plays identical to its retro counterpart (i.e. painfully).

Spelunker may be fondly remembered (or hated) for its unforgiving difficulty; you'll need to perform very precise jumps and memorize level patterns to survive. Falling even a few feet means certain death for your cave explorer.

Spelunker pits you against a wide variety of underground dangers, including rolling boulders and deadly bat shit. Thankfully, you can avoid those guano storms with a flares you'll find scattered throughout the caves. You'll drop bombs to clear obstacles and collect color-coded keys to bypass doors, all the while on the hunt for treasure. It's straightforward stuff, to be sure, with limited appeal. Masochists with a streak of Spelunker nostalgia will probably adore it.

Irem has updated the graphics, sometimes for the worse. The titular spelunker looks nowhere near as endearing as his 8-bit ancestor. However, some aspects, like the creeping purple ghosts, look spectacular. It's a tad hit-or-miss, but serviceable and on par with Irem's other recently announced 8-bit remake, R-Type Dimensions.

The TGS floor demo was pretty brief. Burning through it took about three minutes, a bit longer if it was your first go at the game. It feels very much like a relic, but polished up and lovingly released upon the Spelunker-loving masses. We don't really expect it to appeal to too many PlayStation 3 owners because of its severe difficulty and dated mechanics. That said, we didn't have the opportunity to experience four-miner multiplayer. There's a possibility that that could be slightly enjoyable.


Comments

    Uh, Spelunker first appeared on Apple][ I'm pretty sure, actually. Then it was ported to every format known to man, including MSX, C64 and Famicom. And Castlevania appeared on Famicom first - just barely. Not that I'm waving a Nintendo fanboy flag at anybody or anything!

    I've never understood the Japanese fascination with the game - they've made Spelunker character models, lots of weird and wonderful Youtube videos (a 7 second speedrun comes to mind), the theme music is in Taiko no Tatsujin 11 and the second DS game for some reason, and now this! Should be good.

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