Spelunky review for PS Vita, PSN

Platform: PlayStation Vita
Also On: PSN, PC
Publisher: Mossmouth, LLC
Developer: Mossmouth, LLC
Medium: Digital
Players: 1-4
Online: Yes

You know those games that inexplicably leave you cold? The ones that are adored by critics and beloved by fans, yet, for whatever reason, you just can’t get into? Spelunky is one of those games for me.

Don’t get me wrong, I see why people like it. It’s an insanely difficult platformer that randomly generates each new level. It’s got a graphic style that hits a sweet spot between retro and adorably cute. The controls are as precise as you’d hope they’d be for a game where pretty much everything can kill you. On an intellectual level, I get it.

Spelunky 1

But when it comes down to actually playing it…well, let’s just say that my appreciation for the game remains in the abstract.

Admittedly, a big part of why I’m having trouble getting into Spelunky is that I’m absolutely awful at it. I mean, I have no problem with platformers being hard (see: Cloudberry Kingdom and Stealth Inc. for two recent examples), but this game is on a whole other level of sadistic difficulty. Whereas those games at least let you play levels as many times as you wanted — thereby giving you a chance to learn from your mistakes and figure out where to improve — Spelunky treats each new game as a one-shot deal. Once you die, that’s it, and you’re sent back to the beginning to try again…except this time, it’s basically a whole new game with different levels.

Spelunky 2

Again, I can see how that might appeal to some people. Heck, I have no doubt that if I was better at Spelunky, I’d probably be a lot more fond of it. But after being bitten by snakes, chewed up by bats, attacked by spiders (giant and regular-sized), falling from great heights, impaling myself on spikes, getting shot by arrows, and being blown up more times than I can count (though, if you want to get all technical, the actual number is in the hundreds, as the game so helpfully reminds you after each death), I’d be lying if I said it appealed to me.

Grade: B