Mine over matter
Classic adventuring through the bowels of the earth is given a vibrant High Definition update in Spelunker HD for PlayStation 3. Download it from PlayStation Store and discover that a pioneer spirit doesn't always guarantee a high pain threshold.
Spelunker, our determined yet absurdly frail hero, can crumble at the slightest whiff of peril. Whether he's tumbling down flights of no more than a couple of stairs, stubbing his toes or stumbling into a pit of snakes, jeopardy follows him even when no evil forces are nearby.
Helping this clumsy cavalier of caves to the ancient treasures within them is therefore tricky – and success is to be worn as a badge of honour, just as it was back in 1983, when the original Spelunker was released in arcades to great acclaim.
Recapture that distinctive 1980s look by playing through the game with its original pixelated visuals. Thankfully, modern touches extend to letting you save your progress regularly, while the newly animated Spelunker waddles with a chunky grace, encouraging the lingering feeling that his next trip will be onto his nose rather than pastures new.
Dig deep to find a way through the twisting tunnels and treacherous caverns of Spelunker HD, an adventure that will challenge your reflexes and nerve as you journey underground on PlayStation 3.
Armed with little more than a torch and a portable fan, you guide an intrepid potholer – the spelunker who gives the game its name – through this dank yet strangely colourful network of passageways, hopping over crevices and clambering down ladders that lead to unimaginable depths.
Despite being several hundred metres beneath ground level, your bustling miner is far from alone. Bats deposit lethal droppings and giant spiders weave their deadly webs, oblivious to the dangers their simple routines pose. Even more menacing are the purple ghosts that gravitate towards the slightest hint of human movement. A quick blast of your fan sees to them – leave it too late and even just a wisp of a banished spirit can doom your fragile hero.
Hazards are everywhere, from an ever decreasing energy gauge which acts as a timer, to rival explorers laying traps to snaffle you up. There's only one thing to do: press onwards, to survival, glory and Legendary Spelunker status.
Calamity in numbers
While Solo Excursion mode gives your wobbly explorer more lives – and he eats those up for breakfast – Group Excursion mode allows up to four friends to join you on your descent via PlayStation Network, or three on one PlayStation 3 system.
Although lives are shared among the group, each party member is an extra pair of eyes in the gloom, spotting ghosts and pitfalls ahead. Sneakily, you can even use your friends as guinea pigs, letting them fail in attempting a challenge so that you can see what to do to survive.
Online rankings and group competitions let you climb leader boards as you descend, with your records and achievements being available for all to see – and mock. Save face by plunging to greater depths and seeking the secrets buried below the surface.