| Spelunky

There's currently a wonderful resurgence of hard-as-nails video games going on - games where your many deaths often cause laughter and shouting, rather than pain and frustration.

Think VVVVVV on the Nintendo 3DS, for example, or the wonderful Super Meat Boy. The king of this genre, however, is Spelunky - a glorious platforming dungeon-crawler than has now made its way to the PS Vita.

What makes Spelunky so special is the way in which players progress through the game via blood, sweat, and tears, rather than upgrades and levelling. This is perhaps the most rewarding video game experience I've ever had.

You big lunk

Spelunky is all about death, and then some more death, and also a side-order of death just in case you haven't had enough.

You control an explorer who delves into the depths of an ancient burial ground. There are numerous traps and enemies you'll meet along the way, and these become more and more dangerous the further you progress.

Despite the fact that you have bombs, ropes, and a whip at your disposal, you'll die pretty quickly, and you'll die often. Spelunky is all about learning through trial and error.

The more you play and the further you get, the more knowledge you'll accumulate. Eventually those mines that were causing you so much trouble will be easy as pie, and it'll be the jungle that's making you weep.

But here's the twist: every level in Spelunky is randomly generated. Each time you play is completely different, with random layouts, enemy positions, and treasures.

The combination of incredible fun, nigh-on perfect controls, glorious enemy-versus-weapon balancing, and infinite replayability means that Spelunky represents a real and present danger to your productivity.

I hate snakes

But Spelunky is as much about the vast wealth of content on offer as it is about the gameplay itself.

There are tons of enemies to find, traps to dodge, and items to discover. Shops are scattered around the place that offer items that will help you along your way - or you can choose to steal from the store, and incur the wrath of the legion of shopkeepers and their well-loaded shotguns.

And the secrets that Spelunky holds - oh, the secrets! I've put 25+ hours into the various versions of the game, and I'm still yet to find many of the numerous secret areas. I haven't even managed to beat the last boss yet, despite being a fairly decent player.

This is what makes Spelunky tick - there are so many different elements to focus on that everyone ends up playing it differently. I like to focus on treasure, for example, while others I know enjoy getting as far as possible, or reaching the mysterious City of Gold.

I would go as far as to say that you'd be hard-pushed to find someone who doesn't enjoy what Spelunky has to offer. It's such an open-ended experience that lets you tackle it however you want (although I wouldn't hang around too long, lest the ghost of the depths rips you a new one.)

Spelunky! Again.

As I mentioned, I've already played a lot of Spelunky. The Vita version is actually the fourth available version of the game, and it doesn't really offer much that's new.

It does come with one special feature - the ability to play multiplayer across multiple Vita handhelds - but, quite honestly, Spelunky is all about the single-player, so this isn't going to affect the majority of players.

And it's a huge shame that the Daily Challenge mode from the PC version isn't included here. The upcoming OlliOlli for Vita is going to have a similar feature, so it's not clear why Spelunky on Vita is lacking the mode.

But the fact that I'm griping about a missing feature rather than the content that's here should tell you something.

Spelunky is a game that you need to own right this second, especially if you've never played it before. Just prepare to lose a large portion of your life to those depths.


Play Spelunky. That is all