Spelunky is a free game that promises a new adventure each time you play. This old-fashioned adventure game offers a lot of Indiana Jones-type action, but gets off to a rocky start with its keyboard commands.
The program's interface reminded us of an 8-bit Nintendo game at first glance. It quickly confused us with its commands. Our visit to the Controls Help File revealed an overwhelming number of keyboard commands to remember, though joystick operation looked slightly easier. The game revolved around an adventurer of the Indiana Jones mold. He rescues women and collects treasure as he dodges monsters, spikes, and deadly mazes in an underground cave system. The underground cave keyboard commands' difficulty held us back from really enjoying the game for a long time. Fortunately, once we got the hang of the controls, the various levels proved challenging. We were jumping out of danger and collecting as much money as possible. We really enjoyed how the board randomly generated a new maze at each level, so no two games are ever the same. Unfortunately, Spelunky is light on special features, the best one being the aforementioned ability to play with a joystick instead of a keyboard. While its controls took a while to master, the game's constant challenge kept us happy and even a little bit addicted.
Spelunky is freeware. It comes as a compressed file. While its controls were a minor headache, the constant challenge and fun make this a game worthy of our recommendation.
Probably the easiest way to describe Spelunky is that its (kind of) like La Mulana meets Nethack--every time you play the levels, items, monsters, and so forth, are all procedurally-generated. The terrain is destructible and there are quite a few ways in which the various game elements can interact with one another. My goal was to create a fast-paced platform game that had the kind of tension, re-playability, and variety of a roguelike. In roguelikes, the gameplay tells the story, and I wanted to give Spelunky that type of a feeling...but make the player rely on their reflexes rather than their brain (or knowledge of what 50 billion command keys do!).