Gaming Stories: Spelunky

Six hundred and twenty-one plays, six hundred and twenty-one deaths, zero wins. I’ve never been so happy with such futility.

I’ve been poking at Spelunky since about 2010, but I didn’t make a concerted effort to finish the game until this summer after the Xbox Live Arcade port was released. To this day, I still haven’t played that version. Instead, I’ve continued to try to conquer the original freeware PC version, where, despite my futility so far, I feel like I’m near a breakthrough.

I wonder how many of those deaths are intentional suicides after I took an early hit in first couple of stages. If I can feel the game going poorly, I’ll find the nearest enemy, spikes, or large fall, kill my avatar, and start again.

The pressure for a perfect run used to define my explorations of Spelunky, but for now, I just want to make it from the first stage to the fourth stage in one piece so I can unlock the tunnel to the fourth stage. When I pursued the perfect run, I would rage at the cheap hits from bats and snakes, curse the spiders, and curse myself for walking into yet another arrow trap that knocked me off a cliff, taking me from full life to death in a matter of seconds. I would boil because I was too close to an exploding space ship in the third stage or because I was caught in a damage loop from the snow monsters in the third stage. I would curse the spiders and frogs who seemed to be able to impossibly adjust their jumps so they land right on my head.

Try again. 

I tend not to play many video games around my toddler, but Spelunky, for whatever reason, is one of the first video games to which I’ve exposed him. He calls it the “try again” game. In a way, I guess it’s teaching him good-nature perseverance.

Update: while finishing this post, I gave it another try. Six hundred and twenty-two plays, six hundred and twenty-two deaths, zero wins. Let’s try it again.