Spelunky 2 gameplay screenshot. Image by: Matthew McGuire
Spelunky 2 gameplay screenshot. Image by: Matthew McGuire

Derek Yu and the team at Mossmouth returned to gaming industry with Spelunky 2 last month.

For those that have not yet been introduced to Spelunky, it is a side-scrolling video game, with a randomization setting to make each level unique. These types of video games are known as rouge-like games. 

Imagine having the luck of the draw with a game, as well as endless hours of gameplay. One of the biggest selling points behind Spelunky is the number of hours of entertainment provided for a fair price. Deep down, I love Spelunky. It is my all-time favorite game to play when relaxing with downtime. 

Spelunky has a niche audience of die-hard fans. I’ve included a few clips from some of my favorite YouTubers below. This review contains small spoilers related to the game.

My journey with Spelunky 2 (SP2) started around 2015-2017. I was becoming exhausted playing Spelunky 1 (SP1) for countless hours. I would tweet to Derek, along with thousands of other people, asking for the sequel. 

The game was in production during 2018 and an original release date of 2019 was announced. One of the editors to Crescent Vale was also excited about the upcoming release. As many already know, the date was pushed back to 2020. The additional time provided the engineers at Mossmouth extra time to work out any issues. 

Hardware

I strongly suggest anyone wanting to play this game to have a PC ready with the latest version of Windows or use a PS4.

My personal preference for an operating system on a computer is with Apple products. The desire to have long-lasting computer is great in terms of investing wisely, but not as much in regards to playing Spelunky. In order to play Spelunky on my laptop, I had to partition my hard drive with Bootcamp. I do not suggest anyone does this on the 2019 Macbook Air. The computer does not have the processing power to play the game properly with my current specifications. The computer overheats when trying to play SP2, but not SP1. I believe the latest edition uses more internal memory. Both SP1 and SP2 are available on Steam and on other platforms. 

PlayStation 4 users were offered the game first. After two weeks, the game was released on Steam. During these first few weeks hackers and programmers went to the source code, similar to how the eggplant was found in the first edition, these coders went digging for clues and source code. If Derek does do a third edition, I hope he uses a large amount code words within the code for hidden items to really throw off players. 

On September 29, Spelunky 2 was released on Steam. The excitement of waiting years to play a new edition did come along with high expectations. The first day of playing the game was frustrating on a whole new level. Granted, the primary feeling of playing the first edition is with a layer of frustration, but the second edition pushed me to the point of almost losing interest. 

During the first few days, there was a patch to help with the lagging gameplay caused by the graphics within the game. I thought the update would help, but after weeks of gameplay, I see that my laptop cannot run the game properly. It is soul-crushing in many ways. I invested over a thousand dollars in a new laptop, primarily to play Spelunky 2, and have utilized it for learning in comparison to gaming. Now, I am currently saving to buy two PS5s, one for me and one for my editor, just so we can have decent shared gameplay.

Gameplay 

One element I enjoyed about my first run was beating my good friend at the daily challenge. When we both lived together in the same city, we would have a two out of three falls match within the game called Gangbeasts. The winner would get to do the daily challenge. We both live in separate cities now and have the ability to each do a daily challenge. It is fun to see how each person reacts to the levels. 

The seeded runs in SP2 offer entertaining paths to explore. I believe these are preset paths with specific items to acquire. 

The multiplayer battle royal has received an update. I have not checked this out yet but look forward to the chaos. 

After playing the first edition for countless hours, I was overly confident with my abilities going into my first few runs with SP2. That feeling of confidence was quickly shattered from the difficulty within the opening levels. It was so bad at first, I had to tweet Derek, along with dozens of other people, inquiring about the degree of difficulty. 

The increase in difficulty within SP2 includes:

  • There is considerably less money to acquire in the first four levels in SP2 compared to SP1. This creates a strong demand to fight the shopkeepers and having to break the vase with the ghost face on it in the first four levels.
  • The first four levels have considerably more enemies in SP2 compared to SP1. In addition, the giant spider that was available in SP1 cave levels, is no longer available to acquire the paste from, and again creating additional stress with the shopkeeper.
  • A piece of me honestly thinks Derek is actively trying prepare the next generation to be more thoughtful of money, and that is why there is less resources early on in SP2 compared to SP1.
  • There are less boxes with resources provided in second edition outside of the shopkeeper area.
  • Items can explode in this game. This causes additional difficulty when acquiring items.
  • There are no mice in SP2 that I can tell. My current method for survival is to carry around a dead caveman.
  • There appears to be more arrow traps in SP2, but they seem to not trigger off screen in SP2 compared to SP1.

For those that have played SP1 and SP2 for thousands of hours, I understand that you might have acquired the ability to maneuver through the levels with no resources. I personally have no idea how this is physically possible, but there are individuals that can beat the game with little to no resources. For myself, I need the jetpack and a large amount of resources by the third level, or I strongly consider giving up and restarting the run. 

The real breaking point for me with the gameplay is the number of hours of waiting for the right resources to populate early in the run.  As a young adult, I had more hours in the day to restart the run and make progress in the game. As I get older, I have more responsibilities, and less time to restart runs to obtain the necessary resources. 

I get that each run is like a roll of the dice. The game would lose some of its draw factor if it provided rare resources for each run. That being said, it is kind of messed up to have a game and possibly only see an important item a few times a year. 

Most likely, I will be far more content with the gameplay once I have a device that can properly run the game. 

Community

An important part to misery is having a great support group and SP2 delivers strong in that regard. If you have played SP1 or SP2, you most likely have experienced the intense difficulty of the game. 

That layer of difficulty is why so many people love the game. To be fair, I’ve included a list of improved items in SP2:

  • The liquid physics are absolutely beautiful.
  • There is a cloning device that can create some interesting situations.
  • There are far more levels in the second edition.
  • The second edition features far more secrets within the game.
  • The artificial intelligence within the game has been updated.

In an era of hand-holding within popular video games, SP2 challenges gamers to overcome impossible odds. Yes, I get frustrated at the hardware issues I am having, but I know I will get to enjoy the latest edition in the near future. 

In the meantime, I will watch some of my favorite gamers play the game on YouTube. 

Quick note, SP1 and SP2 does have violence. I do not advocate any violence in entertainment. Also, I do want to warn you about spoilers in the YouTube videos below. Enter at your own caution.

YouTube Videos

Israel Blargh! is one of the funniest Spelunky gamers. His dedication to the game is beyond normal. He does include larger spoilers in his videos, so be careful.