Let me just take a second to get the jitters from finally beating Spelunky out of my system
Spelunky, is f*ing brutal. Even though I game considerably more than any of my friends I was a casual, powerless, rodent of a gamer to Spelunky. For those not in the know, the game works like this: there are 5 worlds consisting of 4 levels each, and two bosses. Levels are randomly generated so you never know if you'll be getting into a really quick level that has a straightforward path and not too many obstacles or a tightly cramped nightmare that'll take you a good 3 minutes to push through, times 18.
So immediately you have to get used to the fact that there is no "level 1", things happen at you and this is your experience alone for the next 10 seconds to 45 minutes. Again I consider myself to be a (maybe) hardcore gamer, at least in the sense that I like challenge and love to work to over come it, but this was still a pretty fresh experience for me to come to terms with. Initially getting bumped around like a gold fish in a plastic bag I would generally die before clearing level 2 or even the first world. This always left me with an experience inside that felt like the game wasn't for me or it wasn't wholesome. Then I went on the wikias and the youtube and found the plethora of goodness this game has to offer if you know what to do and have the practice.
This was a refreshing experience I must say and I was encouraged to keep going, trying to beat the game even as the game pounded me into the ground. In case you were curious, beating King Yama (AND MAKING IT TO THE EXIT) for the first time took me 900 tries, that's "deaths" in this games understanding. That's a whole lot of grind and since my very first death I've developed a kind of strategy and consider myself a weathered Spelunker now. Coolio.
Just to give you guys an idea of why I think this game is difficult, I will explain and provide a list for you. I've narrowed it down to this: Spelunky doesn't want you to win, it doesn't want to play nice and it certainly doesn't want to be an easy game. Like getting a cow down a staircase you're going to have to maneuver around a bit till you get some momentum going. There is a butt load of stuff that is out to kill you in addition to several 1TK elements (spikes, lava, bottomless pits and even more annoying examples like man eaters which are very abundant in some levels).
Here is a list of what you generally have to watch out for in an ordinary run through of Spelunky:
-Airborne Enemies (mobile)
-Airborne Enemies (immobile)
-Man eaters 1TK -Spikes 1TK -Falling too far
-> Which branches out into a whole other set of bullmess because they have several stats you should be aware of, like speed, the fact that they can steal a weapon out of your hand, etc.
-> Also branching out because you have to become aware of safely triggering them, the fact that some things you carry can protect you from the arrows, and other times there is simply nothing you can do because of the lack of foresight.
-> Which really wake up way too painfully close to the player.
-Ceiling hazards that fall on the player
-Being Crushed 1TK -Falling to your death 1TK -Yeti handball
-Bouncing, "projectiled" objects which might otherwise be harmless but are not thanks to the bounce pads
-Lava 1TK -> which also spawns lava based enemies
-> which can block your path and waste valuable time
-Psychic/Purple Rings of hatred 1TK -Fake damsels (Succubus)
-> if you don't have the jetpack they're hard to out maneuver
-Spike balls 1TK -> which if you don't already know before your first time blowing one up, will travel at a very high velocity and destroy everything in it's way including you
-The bosses themselves &
-The Ghost 1TK
That's not even considering the various difficult circumstances you may find yourself in like really cramped levels with tons of spikes/tiki traps, having the sacrificial chamber disrupted by not your doing, getting stuck in a freaking dark level, not having the supplies to progress to the end of the level, losing your Ankh or angered shopkeepers that again is not your doing (tends to happen in the black market). Playing this game just feels like your crawling through a narrow ventilation shaft that's progressively getting hotter and smaller as you go.
To wrap this up, I am in no way complaining or trying to be negative. The game is fantastic and I'm glad I was finally able to beat it, this retrospective blog post is solely here to reflect on how difficult this game is. It is basically the challenge of a difficulty curve that comes from not having anything explained for you and therefore a hardcore amount of unknowns, the randomness of level generation and the insane amount of hazards you will regularly encounter coupled with the fact that these hazards can do a lot of damage to your very low starting health of 4 hearts which is slow to be recovered initially. This has proven to be an adequate formula for quite the challenging game. And if we analyze it a bit further, the only way to truly beat the game is to go through the tedious task of collecting secret items, the Udjat Eye, the Ankh, the Hedjet and the Scepter. Acquiring one of these requires you to forfeit your health, which means if you stocked up a good amount of health to that point it would have to be sacrificed to reach the final boss. This is the game challenging you, the player, on a completely new level. And that is just brilliant and straight up diabolical of the developer. Well done.
My closing thoughts, I would certainly like to ask the creator, Derick Yu, what was his motivation for making the game so tough. But I wouldn't want to ask him in person, he might try to catch me in a spider's web and drop a cubical concrete slab on me.