Proudly presents…

Spelunky Classic HD” Review

with ♥ from Froge

Release date: .
Developers: yancharkin
Licence: Copyleft.

Verdict: 3/5 stars. Consider this a “notice me” review from one of the indie scene’s classic games, and try not to notice how this mod butchered some of the original.


If you were a poor kid in the 2010s so destitute that you couldn’t afford any video games or a PC to pirate the good games on, you would scrounge around the Web looking on lists like “Top 50 Free PC Games”, or “The Top Twenty BEST PC Video Games You Can Play Right Now FOR FREE” if you had shit taste, and try to find some entertainment to while away your idle hours inbetween banal high school drama, pointless high school work, and scheduling times where you can have mental breakdowns about your high school relationships and how they’ve been the only meaningful contact you’ve ever had in your life thus far and losing the best friends you ever have because they don’t reciprocate your love for them is an entirely foreign experience that you will take extraordinarily poorly and cry over well into adulthood. What a shitty education system. Teaches us nothing but being a bitch for an ungrateful boss and how to be an asshole to who you care most about.

This game has nothing to do with high school (Getting off – topic on my review site? It’s more likely than you think), but it is a sort of microcosm of the thousand deaths you die every day you have to deal with that fundamentally appalling infrastructure, in that you quite literally die a thousand deaths. Spelunky, if you’re a FUCKING DOPE who don’t know DICK about VIDEO GAMES, is the Dark Souls of 2D platformers, and Cuphead can go to hell for stealing that title (haa! ya geddit! ’cause Cuphead went to hell in the game! thank you, only real gamers get that joke). It’s a hard game, though with no bullshit involved, and every time you mess up it’s because of your fault alone and with no scruples. In a sense, it’s like Dark Souls but good.

Introduction Classic HD

Look, Spelunky is good, and you know it’s good. If you want me to give you a review telling you all the things you were already told, then you can find more enjoyment by reading yesterday’s review twice in a row. This unofficial remake, whose big selling point is having support for more aspect ratios, is also pretty good. The implementation is significantly more buggy, though this is offset by being a wee bit faster as far as I can tell, as well as some spit – and – polish improvements made even better through also having a Linux port. Stallman would call it a “GNU/Linux” port, which always seemed to me a sign of insecurity on his part. Nobody is going to utter that term due to it stopping the flow of a sentence worse than a tampon in a wine bottle, the only people using that term being forced to deal with Stallman’s vaguely – autistic preferences directly, and the insistence on using the term in all his official literature seems like a weak attempt at getting credit for a time that has long passed him by.

This is related to the original developer, Derek, getting a credit for this modification, a credit that is deserved considering how unchanged his original vision is. The only alterations to the original Spelunky remain bug fixes and the like, though as mentioned, it introduces new ones! As the universe is an inexorably cruel and ultimately indifferent place, all the bugs are boring and frustrating instead of astonishing and fun. If you run into a stone block, you might clip into it and explode, but only on certain blocks! If you run while shooting a gun, the bullets will hit you and you’ll die! The whip animation now has attack frames during the entire animation, meaning you can stand in front of a shopkeeper and have him shoot you after getting whipped from behind your head. Sometimes a snake spawns inside a tile and jitters a lot.

All of these bugs can be fixed by any amateur familiar with the source code through a variety of different options and ugly hacks (like making yourself invincible to your own bullets?), but it won’t fix Game Maker being a fundamental… well, I won’t say “piece of shit”, even though it is proprietary crippleware which has the ability to export to a variety of different platforms so long as you pay the hundreds of dollars needed to remove the artificial capitalist restrictions as imposed by a greedy and destructive company who sees culture as something to exploit and profit off instead of something to preserve for the future. Actually, yeah, I will call it a piece of shit. But actually coding in Game Maker is functional enough once you have a blueprint of a game ready and are ready to crutch off the built – in manual, countless online forum posts, and the barebones skeleton of what you’ve sluggishly programmed thus far, though once again Game Maker is fucking garbage.

The engine works well enough, but when it comes to issues that other engines would silently ignore, Game Maker just outright refuses to work. My game session ended — after thirty deaths in one sitting, because this game really is some of the most fun you can ever have for free — I got an error about some piece of the code referencing an enemy that doesn’t exist. You think Game Maker would be intelligent enough to discard such an issue and fudge the runtime with seeing whatever happens regardless of the enemy existing, but it instead forces you to abort after immediately and abruptly halting your game with no other errors present. Considering developing in Game Maker involves, 90% of the time, launching the game, having it crash immediately, and making pedantic alterations to your code to try and make it work (the other 10% involving frustrating implementations of poorly – documented functions with no examples of how to use them in a practical environment), I am surprised this game didn’t crash sooner considering how it’s all procedurally generated.


But it’s a good game! It has a simple structure and a simple game loop that’s fast and provides challenge while still rewarding tact and forethought! I didn’t go into much detail about it because there’s not much to talk about in terms of running through caves to get to the exit without dying, and part of the fun is figuring out how to abuse the environment in order to speedrun through it on the next time, even while the initial controls are taking the mickey and believes you to only have one hand. I always rail on Dark Souls for being the Cuphead of role – playing games, believing “challenge” and “FUCKING BULLSHIT REEEEEEEEEEEE” to be the same concept, but a lot of the alleged bullshit in Spelunky can be chalked up to carelessness or ignorance rather than being a middle finger to the player. All the mechanics can be learned in a day, and there aren’t any real surprises like in Dark Souls where you’re dicked around for the amusement of the developers rather than for the amusement of the player. It’s less hitting a brick wall and more learning how to drive manual transmission, where it seems hard until you realise how predictable all the mechanisms are, and how you can only fail if you choose to ignore the warning signs presented to you. Until you get to the ice levels, in which case all bets are right the fuck off.

The original game was damn good, so gets four stars. This one introduced some actual bullshit with the arbitrary deaths and near – unusability of firearms, so it only gets three stars for buggering things up. You had one job, and that was to do several jobs! Oh, sure, you claim that making games is hard. But you know what’s harder? Being a Gamer. And when you end up leaving the civilian populace to enlist in the Gamer Forces, you finally understand what it means to be the “Us” to an unburdened and overprivileged “Them”. And you can take that to the bank.

Also, thank the original creator of this game for releasing the source code under a custom copyleft licence, though this still doesn’t change the engine being fundamentally nonfree. This licence’s prohibition of commercial activity also means Spelunky itself is nonfree, because one of the fundamental tenants of free culture is allowing your customers to sell the works they modify, a tenant which allows me the means to use beautiful typefaces in my books without fear of legal action taken against me. This licence also contains some legal vagaries, such as not defining what a “sale” is or if a modder can take donations on a free project, as well as what it means to “display an appropriate copyright notice”, making it uncertain if this is really a copyleft licence or allows modified works to choose their own licence as long as it’s compatible with the licence’s other restrictions. Makes you wish programmers would stop rolling their own licences and just use CC0 already. After all, so long as you are restricted, you cannot call yourself free.