There’s something to the Spelunky games that evokes the most suborn version of myself. I keep pushing into them, and more often than not, they throw me back down, laughing. If I had to classify them in one word, it would be “educational”. You can never go into them assuming you know everything, and then again, they teach you new things at every turn. The most important lesson: patience.
And patience was needed if you were someone with only a Switch to play games on, or if you wanted to play Spelunky 2 especially on the go. Almost a year after its original release on PlayStation 4, it finally arrives on another console, one that is a hybrid to boot. And it was most definitely worth the wait as Spelunky 2 absolutely shines on the Switch. In both portable and in console modes it runs incredibly well, and is surprisingly playable even on the Switch’s lackluster JoyCon inputs.
If you haven’t played Spelunky 2 at all up to this point and you own a Switch, you owe it to yourself to buy it and play it. It’s in every way a superior game to the already incredible original, which is also hitting the Switch as part of a double whammy of roguelike mayhem. More than ten years since its first re-release as the version of Spelunky that we know today — remade from a more crude looking and not nearly as polished freeware game that Derek Yu put together years before — jumping into these is still as refreshing as it ever was, now with even more devious traps and options to share the pain with others via online, now with much awaited crossplay!
For those who are new to it, the Spelunky games are all about learning their ins and outs as you play. They’re roguelikes that have you making your way level by level, collecting treasure and equipping yourself with an assortment of trinkets you buy — or steal — along the way, until, if you’re lucky, you manage to reach the ending. There are countless secrets to unravel and poke around for even if you get to finally beat the game. These are designed to be played through multiple times, and through the way that they’re designed, there are nearly infinite permutations of playthroughs you might get.
The best part about roguelikes in general, but even more so in Spelunky’s case, are the stories you likely come up with thanks to the randomness that comes with playing such unpredictable games. Sometimes they’re maddening, while at others they can even be harrowing, but 9 out of 10, they’re hilarious. There’s a perfect balance that comes from the cartoony violence presented in these that makes it hard to be mad at them for too long after particularly tough defeats.
As a platformer, Spelunky 2 is incredibly tight and thoughtfully designed, demanding a lot of precision and quick wits from your part in order for you to succeed, rewarding your experience knowing how to recognize potential danger that can come from a number of devious traps, like dart blowers or even snakes inside pots that would otherwise hold treasure. It’s the type of game that will have you fail runs minutes into them only to have miraculous ones push you forward and forward in one lucky spurt.
Both Spelunky games are a testament to the brilliant design mentality of developer Mossmouth, headed by indie game star Derek Yu. Not only do they provide hours upon hours of entertainment, but they make it so it’s worth failing repeatedly. Each new run you embark upon is a new experience, and taking the knowledge that you build is paramount for your future success, until, well, you run into the next set of challenges laid ahead.
They’re the type of games that scream at their top of their lungs how much value there is to thoughtful videogame design, one that combines punishing difficulty with the lightheartedness of a cartoon feature in one masterful stroke. Trust me, you’ll want to have Spelunky 2 to play on Switch as it’ll easily net you hundreds of hours of fun provided you’re into the idea of repeated play and inching your way to success.