[Just in time for last week's Steam release, Dtoid community blogger Corduroy Turtle shares this MASSIVE guide for Spelunky. And that's no exaggeration. This thing was so big, we literally had to split it in half because it wouldn't fit on the front page all at once! Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow. --Mr Andy Dixon]
Spelunky is an absolutely fantastic game, but it's not particularly friendly to newcomers. I won't name names but I have people on my friends list who've never made it out of the Mines. That makes me sad. In an effort to help along new players (and because I'm hopelessly addicted) I decided to share some of the knowledge I've acquired after dying somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,500 times. Why so many deaths? Because my hunger would not cease until I had seen everything this game had to offer, and that included earning every Achievement. Turns out, this thing is so freaking good, I'm still playing it.
Before you start reading, I'd like to emphasize that, beyond the high scores and loot, Spelunky is a game about discovery and challenging yourself. It can be brutal at times (read: always), but you'll come to find that it's also extremely fair and immensely satisfying... if you're willing to put in the effort. There are so many secrets, hidden areas and advanced techniques built into this game, it's absolutely staggering. If the Internet didn't exist, some of this stuff would only be spoken of in hushed whispers behind locked doors.
Though I purposefully left certain pieces of information out of this guide to keep some of the mysteries alive, I still pull the curtain way back. Stuff is explained in great detail, and therefore spoiled. If you haven't played much Spelunky or don't know much about it, I encourage you not to read this from top to bottom. I can tell you first hand, discovering this stuff for yourself is magical, and far more exciting than simply reading my descriptions. That being said, buckle up. This thing is huge.
PART 1: THE BASICS
Spelunky is a platformer with roguelike elements. This means it features randomized levels, items and enemies, and of course the dreaded threat of permadeath. Each time you die, you'll have to start your adventure over from the very beginning with nothing but the standard equipment and a scowl. But that's okay! Treat every life in Spelunky as a learning experience because the knowledge you gain from each death is far more valuable than the progress and gems that are lost in the process.
Like any platformer, you'll find yourself running and jumping a lot -- running into arrow traps and jumping onto spikes, mostly. Things can go wrong very quickly in Spelunky, and it's almost always due to carelessness. Therefore, walking is sometimes the best idea, especially when heading towards an area you haven't seen yet. Shit, crawl if you have to. That being said, you can't just lollygag along forever -- you have roughly 2.5 minutes to find the exit to each level before a giant ghost shows up to hurry you along. This guy will kill you instantly if you so much as touch him, so stay out of his way! Run!!
Though the level layouts are different every time, the enemies and traps that populate these levels function on a strict set of rules. It may seem chaotic at first, but once you figure out exactly what those rules are, you can manipulate them to work for you. You know that thing Robert Downey Jr. does during the boxing scene in the first Sherlock movie, where he plans out a series of moves and knows all the reactions in his head before he even throws a punch? It's sort of like that, and it's awesome.
This is the life and equipment you'll start each game with, along with some basic tips to get you started. Learning how to properly wield the whip and ration bombs and ropes early on will serve you well in later stages, so get some practice in. This stuff is your bread and butter.
HEARTS -- You start each game with four hearts, which represent four hit points. It's not a lot, believe me. Almost everything in this game does one full heart of damage (there are no half hearts in Spelunky) and some do two or more. Even worse, some traps (like landing on spikes or being crushed by a stone block) can kill you instantly, regardless of how much health you have. Don't get too confident! There are a handful of ways to increase your health, but they aren't easy.
WHIP -- The whip serves as your primary attack but takes some practice to get comfortable with due to a slightly delayed reaction after pressing the button. Thankfully you'll have plenty of time to practice with it, because it's the only item you'll always have with you no matter what.
ROPES -- You start with four ropes in your inventory, but you can find more lying around in crates and in Shops. Like ladders, they are climbable, allowing you to reach areas that may be too high or too low. When you deploy a rope, it fires straight up and attaches to the wall after it reaches a certain distance, unless of course it hits the ceiling first.
BOMBS -- You'll start each life with four bombs, but can find plenty more in crates and Shops as well. Bombs are a precious commodity in Spelunky, and vital to your success. They're great for destroying walls, unearthing treasures and creating shortcuts. They're also an extremely powerful weapon, killing most enemies in one hit. Of course, they can also kill you in one hit, so be careful to stay out of their blast radius.
These are things that you'll find lying around all over the place. Most of them are more useful than they initially appear so keep your eye out for them! (This section does not include a number of rare items; those are located in the "Special Items" section below.)
ROCKS -- The most common throwable item you'll find around. Drop them over ledges to safely set off arrow traps or throw them to kill some of the weaker enemies. They never break from overuse and they're lying everywhere, so always try to keep one with you if you aren't already carrying something more important.
POTS -- Pots are extremely fragile and will break if whipped or thrown. They may contain nothing, treasure, or an enemy inside, so treat them with caution.
CHESTS -- Chests contain a random amount of treasure (obviously). Once opened, the empty chest can be used to set off traps or thrown to kill close enemies.
CRATES -- These wooden boxes are guaranteed to contain at least one random item. Most often you'll get ropes or bombs, but there's always a chance you could get something more valuable like clothing, gear or even weapons! They are an oasis in a desert of pain.
IDOLS -- These golden statues can be found in almost every area of the game, and can be taken to the exit or sold in the Shop for a decent chunk of change. The exact amount increases the further you go, making them much more enticing the further you get. Think twice before you decide to pick it up or move it, however, because doing so may activate a deadly trap!
SMALL CREATURES -- Wait, there are harmless creatures in Spelunky? Surprisingly, yes. Each of the four main stages has a unique animal or insect that you can find scurrying around. There are rats in the Mines, tiny frogs in the Jungle, little penguins in the Ice Caves, and grasshoppers in the Temple. If you can catch one, the only thing they're good for (other than being super cute) is setting off arrow traps.
TORCHES -- If you are unfortunate enough to land yourself in a dark level, you will be given a torch to light your way. They must be carried, which means you can't use your whip or carry a weapon at the same time. You can toss it in an emergency, but you'll be stuck in the dark until you can track it down. You'll find unlit torches attached to the walls along the way, which can be lit for a little gold, but not removed.
SCARABS -- Another thing only found in dark levels is the harmless scarab. They're golden and give off a bit of light, but don't attack them! Simply touching these guys while they're alive will score you a few thousand gold! Definitely worth the trouble.
DAMSELS -- Okay, look, I feel bad including damsels in the "Found Items" category but that's how you have to think of them if you are going to make it in Spelunky! If you see them as living creatures that need saving, you're more likely to waste precious resources in order to do so, and possibly put yourself in greater danger in the process. (I'm going to refer to the damsels as "she" but it should be noted that you can swap out the lady for a beefcake dude or a derpy pug. Not that you asked, but I'm a pug man myself.)
Shops can show up in just about every level of the game, and will either have items for sale, or offer a variety of paid services. They're always run by a Shopkeeper, who's a very sensitive fellow. If you want to stay on his good side, don't steal, blow something up too close to his Shop, or try to attack him. He only has two modes: calm dude and crazy fucking shotgun demon. Even if you survive his wrath the first time, there are long term consequences...
ITEM SHOP -- This shop will have four random items for sale. Depending on what type of shop it is, the items may have a similar theme. Some will feature a bunch of Bomb Bags, others will may only carry different types of clothing or gear. Choose wisely because money ain't cheap!
KISSING BOOTH -- This version of the Shop features a Damsel who's ready to plant as many life-giving smooches on you as you can afford, but they aren't cheap.
HIRED HANDS -- This shop features an AI partner that you can "hire" to "help" you. Don't ever, ever do that. They're complete morons, and there's a good chance you'll get stuck in the crossfire of one of their stupid attacks. But if you don't believe me, hey, go for it.
WHEEL OF CHANCE -- The giant, colorful wheel inside this shop makes it sort of hard to miss. If you've got some money, you can take a few spins and try to win the item that sits behind the prize door. There's also a big money spot on the wheel, which is nice too. Just don't spend too much time gambling or the Ghost will show up to crash the party.
BLACK MARKET -- This isn't just a "shop", it's an entire level full of shops. There will always be an Ankh for sale on the far right of the stage, as well as a Wheel of Chance on the bottom level. The other five Shops are random and can carry just about anything. Walking in here while you are branded a terrorist is... intense.
CLOTHING & GEAR
These items can be purchased from shops, found in crates, earned by killing certain enemies, or received as gifts for sacrificing Damsels. They grant your character various passive and enhanced abilities which stack on top of each other, vastly altering your character's skill set and giving you a better shot at survival. Prices fluctuate greatly depending on what stage you're on so I won't bother listing them here.
COMPASS -- This will cause a red arrow to appear on the screen which will point you towards the exit. It's especially helpful for dark levels and speed runs.
PASTE -- This jar of glue will permanently transform all of your bombs into sticky bombs. They'll stick to walls and enemies, which will makes most scenarios much easier. However, dropping bombs down small holes becomes nearly impossible.
SPRING SHOES -- Wearing these will double your maximum jump height, allowing you to reach higher ledges and leap over larger gaps.
SPIKE SHOES -- These increase your overall stomp damage, which allows you to kill some of the beefier enemies in one shot, as well as damage big enemies (Giant Frogs, Mammoths, Mummies, etc.) who are impervious to regular jump damage. They also keep you from slipping around on ice once you reach frosty depths of the Ice Caves.
CLIMBING GLOVE -- This green hand grants you the ability to stick to any vertical surface. You can shimmy up walls or just hang out and catch your breath. However, things get a little more complicated when you're trying to make a quick escape and you keep sticking to every surface you touch. It's definitely a great item, but it took me a long, long time to get comfortable with it. It works great in tandem with the Jetpack because it makes any vertical surface a quick refueling spot.
PITCHER'S MITT -- This crazy item greatly increases your throwing strength to the point where any item thrown will ignore gravity and fly in a perfectly straight line until it comes in contact with something. Combined with the Paste, bomb throws become deadly accurate. The only downside is it can be a little too strong at times. Sorry, Damsels!
SPECTACLES -- These glasses allow you to see gems and items hidden within the walls; great for treasure hunting with the Mattock. They also let you see slightly better in dark levels.
PARACHUTE -- This one-time-use item will save you from taking fall damage by automatically deploying if you've dropped too far. It's nice to have just in case but I wouldn't go out of my way to buy it.
CAPE -- Love this thing. The Cape is like your own personal parachute that can be activated or deactivated at will by pressing the jump button. It makes descending a breeze and greatly increases your horizontal jumping distance. On top of that, you can lower yourself onto spikes without getting impaled! I just learned about this the other day and it blew my mind. This game is so freaking cool.
JETPACK -- Simply put, this thing is the best. This amazing piece of technology lets you fly around even the trickiest levels with ease. The Jetpack has limited amount of fuel (using it in short bursts helps) so you can't stay airborne indefinitely. Luckily it refills itself whenever you land or grab a ledge, so make sure to make frequent pit stops.
ANKH -- This magical artifact can only be found in the Black Market (a secret level hidden somewhere in the Jungle) for the low, low price of $50,000. Why is it so expensive? Upon death, you will be resurrected back at the beginning of the level with 4 hearts! However, since it destroys itself in the process, it can only be used once. The Ankh is also special because it's one of the items required to gain access to Hell. Not for the faint of heart!
WEAPONS & TOOLS
Like the gear above, these can be found for sale in shops or inside crates that are scattered around. Unlike the gear, however, these items must be carried. Since you can only carry one item at a time, things can get complicated pretty quick. Still, the added range and attack power some of them provide can make your life a lot easier.
MACHETE -- This melee weapon is more powerful than the whip and cuts through pesky spiderwebs with ease.
SHOTGUN -- Arguably the best weapon in the game. It's packs a punch and (like all guns in Spelunky) has unlimited ammo. Don't get too trigger happy, though! The pellets that travel off screen could possibly hit the Shopkeeper, kill a Damsel, or set off an arrow trap. Besides that, the recoil could possibly put you in danger, too. Each shot sends your character flying back one space, but you can counteract this a bit by holding forward when you shoot.
BOOMERANG -- This throwing weapon will (almost always) return to you when thrown. It tears through large groups of enemies and can be thrown diagonally, as well. Be sure not to whip as it's heading back or you'll miss the catch.
WEB GUN -- This blue "gun" fires spiderwebs, but has pretty crappy range. The webs can be used for catching small enemies (making them easier to kill) or for stopping arrows in their tracks. It's also possible to shimmy up a wall by leaping from web to web, though this is sort of an awkward and inconsistent way to travel. The webs are not permanent and will disappear fairly quickly.
FREEZE RAY -- This yellow gun will freeze enemies in a block of ice for a short period of time. Whipping or hopping on the ice blocks will cause them to shatter, killing whatever was inside instantly. If you freeze an enemy in mid air (like a bat or a spinner spider) they will fall and shatter on their own.
TELEPORTER -- While holding it, you can teleport a short distance up, down, left, or right. But beware, it is very dangerous to use, and if you accidentally teleport into a solid object (like a wall, for instance), you will die instantly.
CAMERA -- This glorified flash bulb will knock most enemies out for a short while, but it has some interesting uses. It can kill Bats, Skeletons, Jiang Shi, and Vampires in one shot (making it especially useful in Hell). Heads up -- the Shopkeeper does NOT like having his picture taken! Big surprise.
MADDOCK -- Ah, the pickaxe, a treasure hunter's best friend. This will let you to hack your way through just about any surface, gaining you access to walled-off rooms, opening up shortcuts, or uncovering hidden gems. It will break eventually, so make every swing count. It cannot be swung in mid air, however, if you press jump right after you swing it, you should be able to carve out a spot one block higher than usual. Very handy in certain situations.
These items have super special abilities and require extra effort to obtain; you'll never find them in shops. If you want to preserve some of the mystery of Spelunky, I recommend that you skip this section entirely. YOU'VE BEEN WARNED!!
CRYSKNIFE -- A unique item replaces your standard Whip and can kill any creature (save for the two main bosses) in one hit! Pretty goddamn metal.
PLASMA CANNON -- This crazy weapon fires explosive rounds (each one as powerful as a bomb) and has the biggest recoil of any gun in the game - two full spaces. Very dangerous to wield, but oh so satisfying.
SHIELD -- This item is unlike anything else in the game. While held, it basically makes you impervious to forward attacks, and will crush almost anything that gets between you and a solid object - this includes small enemies, rocks, treasure, etc.
ROYAL JELLY -- This treat will net you four extra hearts!
KAPALA - This cup, made from an empty skull, slowly fills with any blood droplets you come in contact with. Once full, you will be awarded an extra heart! This can be done indefinitely, so the potential health that can be gained from the Kapala makes it one of the most sought after items in the game. There's also a super special trick in the Temple that can gain you massive amounts of health, but I'll describe that in the Temple section below instead of spoiling it here.
UDJAT EYE - Yeah, okay, this one doesn't require too much effort, but its ultimate purpose isn't immediately obvious. On top of letting you see gems and items hidden in the walls (like the Spectacles) it serves as a sort of dowsing rod for the hidden entrance to the Black Market once you get to the Jungle.
HEDJET - Another mega secret item. Wielding the Sceptre while wearing this will grant you access to the City of Gold, where another required Hell item awaits. Wait, you don't know what that means? Then you shouldn't be reading this!
SCEPTRE -- Man, you're in deep now. This crazy weapon fires purple orbs that seek out life and end it. Although it is technically a weapon, the attack is so unpredictable and dangerous that there's a good chance it could backfire and kill you! Instead of shooting it off like an idiot, why not combine it with the Hedjet and open the golden door on 4-2 which leads to the City of Gold? As I mentioned above, this is part of the checklist of items that is required for making your way to Hell, so it's important.
BOOK OF THE DEAD -- Once activated, this creepy face book is used to literally open the door to Hell (located just above the lava somewhere in Olmec's lair). Obtaining it, let alone properly using it, will require all of your Spelunky skills and a fair amount of luck.
[REDACTED]'S CAPE -- This is a special Hell item. You'll have to earn this one for yourself to see what it does! ...or you can cheat and look it up, I guess. (Weak, dude.)
[REDACTED]'S AMULET -- Another special Hell item. It's really fucking cool, too. You won't even believe it.
And that's it for part 1! Come back tomorrow to see a level-by-level guide, including tips for defeating every enemy and avoiding every trap.