Spelunker (NES)

Spelunker Box Art


System: NES

Release Date: September 1987

Developer: IREM

Publisher: Broderbund

Genre: Platformer

We’ve got the cave diving Spelunker here. Your goal is to dive in the cave and collect all the treasure you can find to become rich beyond your wildest dreams! The gameplay is simple in idea, yet complex in application.

Starting my spelunking in the cave.

The Spelunker begins by moving up and down in an elevator, which he has to jump out of with the A Button. Jumping is important, as if there is any gap between where you’re walking and where you want to go, you’ll die. Jumping is the most important skill to learn in this game. If you jump down too far, you die. This will become very frustrating as you play. The Spelunker jumps onto ropes and ladders and over gaps in the floor. If you accidentally move too far left or right on the ropes or ladders, you will fall to your death.

Riding the natural geyser in the cave.

There are only a couple enemies to worry about. First, the ghost will show up every once in awhile and be announced by a change in music. You have to be far enough away from the ghost on a horizontal plane in order to blast him back to the afterlife with the B Button. You can also run into bats on occasion that can be temporarily run off with a use of the flare gun with up and the B Button, though you have to have flares in stock in order to use it. Another obstacle that is important to get past are rocks. Down plus the B Button will rid those, but make sure you’re far enough away or the blast will take away one of your lives.

I made it to the end of the first round!

Your energy is constantly ticking down while you move through the level and you have to replenish it with the energy refilling powerup or occasionally the miracle powerup. Making it through the cave is not an easy task and I was only able to accomplish it thanks to the rewind feature, because deaths come very cheaply in this game. After completing the level, you are sent to what seemed to be the same level layout with a different color, so I quit.

Graphics: 1.5

The graphics aren’t anything special, but I like them enough.

Sound: 2.5

The music is actually pretty catchy. I caught my wife humming and dancing to it while I played.

Gameplay: 2.0

I want to give this a higher score, but I can’t because of falling off of ropes. I shouldn’t be able to press too far left or right or down and fall off the ropes. That’s crap.

Difficulty: 2.0

This is a repetition and memorization game. You have to get every bit of timing down in order to beat the level.

Fun Factor: 1.5

I wanted to enjoy it more than I did. I’m not mad about the game, it’s good, but not great.

Overall Grade: 1.9

Spelunker earns a C. This isn’t a great game by any means, but it is worth a shot. I like the gameplay enough, but wish it controlled a lot better.

Spelunker Video Review on YouTube