First Appearance: Spelunker (BrÝderbund, Apple II)
Distinguishing Feature: Pure distilled spite
Strengths: Enticing camouflage
Weaknesses: Its reputation means itís easily avoided by the wary

Profile by Jeremy Signor? | March 24, 2011

Letís get real for a second, folks. Spelunker is a game that hates you and wants you to suffer. Forget killing your in-game avatar, this game wants the real you to stay alive as long as possible to prolong your suffering. Donít believe me? Just think back to when you were a kid with an NES and games that your parents bought you without knowing what they were. You werenít about to run out and buy more yourself, so you were stuck with what you got. Spelunker took full advantage of this, holding kids captive and forcing them to figuratively bang their heads against a brick wall over and over. We never stood a chance.

Everyone already knows about its unforgiving falling mechanics. Not only do you die if you fall from too high, but the developers saw fit to define ďtoo highĒ as two centimeters. Unfortunately, other horrors of bad design exist as well, such as steam vents where one tiny pixel can kill you or enemies your not-so-nimble character is not equipped to handle.

The game Spelunker does not have a main baddie. Itís supposed to be about the spirit of exploration, poking around the different corridors to find your way through each level. Itís fitting, then, that the mechanics themselves are the things that earn our contempt. But unlike most of the proper villains found in this book, the contempt isnít part of the fun. You feel no satisfaction from overcoming it, just the mental scars it inflicted along the way.

Truly, the only way to win is not to play.


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