What’s best. Cricket or Spelunky? Or cricket AND Spelunky? Can one man battle for his life and the safety of more dames than his lips can handle… while at the same time keeping in touch with the sporting greatest giggle? Summer is the time for The Ashes, biannual titanic struggle of cricketty goodness between England and England’s Wayward Kid. Armed only with a radio bleating out the BBC’s Test Match Special, a whip and an inappropriate level of confidence, the internet’s Bobsy goes Spelunking…
Threw a rock. Bounced off the wall. Hit me in the face. Ow.
It’s the Ashes! Play resumes after lunch, and Onions is bowling. Even though the puns on his name have been long extinguished by years of gleeful cricket commentators, the Test Match Special team audibly perked up the moment they saw him come on. Onions! Even if England lose the series this year, we’ve got a player called Onions. This makes us the moral victors.
Right, new game. Spelunky is a cross between the cheery innocence of 80s and 90s platformers and the deadly cynicism of the Rogue-a-likes. Hey look a snake! DEAD. That spider’s enorm-DEAD! What happens if I just take th-DEAD! DEAD! DEAD! It’s cruel, unpredictable and vicious through its procedurally-generated caves. Legends say that there are a finite number of levels, and the game eventually does stop. I’ll never see it though. Today’s challenge is the same as any other day. Try and stay alive for as long as possible.
Stuart Broad is 6’5’’, apparently. Thanks, cricket.
A miss-step, a long drop, a ker-splunch on my poor, poor face. The loss of a valuable health point is mitigated by the fact that I’ve landed on the doorstep of a shop. Huzzah! Shops are few and far between, and this one happens to have climbing gloves, a cape and bouncy shoes.
I buy the shoes and gloves. Can’t afford the cape. The gloves let me cling to any wall like Spiderman, while the shoes make me boing around like an angry Hulk. I’m broke now of course, but who cares? HULK SMASH!
“He’s had some streaky runs”. I had that once. But I wasn’t dressed in cricket whites, thankfully.
Australia get another four, and I get spider-mobbed. Not even my fine shoes can save me! Oh, the world just piles on disappointments. New game!
Giant spider! Like Left 4 Dead’s Witch, the trick is to not startle it. Don’t walk under it. Don’t throw jars at it. Don’t say rude things about its mother. Do so, and it starts pinging around the cave trying to suck your teeth out through your bellybutton. But unlike the witch, you can topple it by leaving an armed bomb in its web while it’s still sleeping.
Unless, like me, you’re an idiot and the bomb hits the spider first, sending it into a rage and Shelobbing you in the face. New game!
I’m carrying a girl! In order to regain health, you must get kissed by women. They can be found around the caves, lost, trapped, whatever. Pick them up, take them to the exit, and at level’s end smooches will be yours. It’s more than a little misogynistic (especially when you drop them and they run around crying), but it’s so abstract and, well, so daft that it doesn’t really matter.
Threw the lady into the path of an arrow trap. Better her than me. Everything you can pick up (aside from weapons) can be thrown. Everything. Even women and unconscious cavemen. Especially women and cavemen!
The crowd’s gone utterly silent. The commentators are getting creeped out by the uncanny sense that people can actually hear them. Brrr. Meanwhile, level 2 brings me a gun shop right near the start. And they have a pistol! At last, man is a match for spider.
Ka-pow! Spa-doing! Bang! Bang! BANG! Take that, vicious caveman! If ever there was an argument against gun control, Spelunky is it. Pistols like this are merely extremely powerful. Shotguns on the other hand make you a vengeful god of buckshot and fury. Well, we can but hope there’s one further down.
Women can also be found in red-lit “kissing parlours”, where a smooch (and associated health point) can be bought for piles o’ cash. Spelunky values love and life very highly. And makes you feel dirty for indulging.
“193-4. Think of that, Mexican wavers!” Cricket commentators abhor the waning attention span of a crowd.
Reached level 5, the jungle world, for the first time today. Having a gun helps a lot. Problem is, the difficulty spike between 4 and 5 is massive. The deadly new fauna is a lot more volatile, far more densely packed, and much, much tougher to kill. But I have a gun. Bring it, monkeys.
There’s a lady trapped in a cave with two exploding frogs. Not worth it. Not even with a gun.
Fucking spike-totems. Dead. Plus, Australia are holding their own after lunch apparently. HOW CAN IT BE GOING SO WRONG?. New game.
“The yellow dirigible is just gently tossing about.” I think he’s talking about the sun. I love cricket commentators. They’re all batshit insane after spending their entire lives playing, and then talking about cricket. I definitely wouldn’t like the sport if the commentators didn’t exist.
Oh yes. Geoff Boycott’s back in the commentary box. “It’s simple cricket logic, that. I’m sorry.” Thank you, Boycott. Oh, thank you.
“You don’t need to be a mathematician to play cricket.”
Found a web launcher gun in a box. Pretty useless gadget, but fun for making gooey bridges across large chasms. I wouldn’t pay money for one, but won’t say no to a freebie. Meanwhile, Boycott is now using facts. Using facts like brass knuckles. Pow! Take that, cricket! Fact!
Picked up a pitcher’s mitt and a cape. The cape’s just a matter of style, really.
“Another cake for you Jonathan.”
“It’s for all of us, Geoffrey. Have a bite of that; it’ll keep you quiet for a while.”
“This is from Shropshire! My father was from Shropshire!”
“Right… So you’re not 100% Yorkshire then?”
“My mother was from Shropshire.”
“…You’re a mongrel, aren’t you?”
Spend too long on a level and a ghost comes to get you. Usually this is a game over, but keep your nerve and you can avoid it long enough to grab some extra loot before skipping merrily through the exit. In this case, ‘sploding a wall, rescuing the girl, getting both her and the idol out the door. I’m a goddamn hero.
I’m a dead hero. Note to self, when tip-toeing through a pit of deadly spikes, don’t jump in the air. Six health points gone in a flash, thanks to my stupidity in leaping on sharp bits of metal. NEW GAME!
Lost most of my health on the first level by falling a hundred feet onto an angry Shelob. Managed to kick her ass though. And now, just before reaching the exit: FREE SHOTGUN. Fuck yes. This might not go badly after all.
Boycott’s gone. Man! Where the hell is Blowers when you need him?
Level 5, and the dead are restless. Usually this means rather timid and easily-shotgunned zombies. But occasionally you get vampires. I hate vampires. But I have a shotgun! Hm. The mathematics troubles me. I need Boycott back.
Dead. Caveman leapt out of a pond and biffed me before I could shotgun him. NEW. GAME.