Well, this isn’t a surprise. Nor should it be. Of course, the tenth and final Game of the Decade is Derek Yu’s wonderful Spelunky, a game I’ve played probably more than any since first encountering it about eight months ago.
I probably don’t need to explain what’s so right about this game to anyone who’s had the pleasure of playing it but I’ll briefly go over why I love this game. Put simply, Spelunky is a platform game programmed around the philosophy of the so-called roguelike genre. The player takes control of a little chap in a hat with a whip (wonder who that reminds me of?) and explores the various levels of an underground cavern, grabbing as much gold and killing as many hideous monsters (including giant spiders, very giant spiders, cavemen, killer plants, exploding frogs, yetis and UFOs) as possible. In keeping with the roguelike philosophy, the levels are randomly generated and different each game, death can come quickly and there’s an emphasis on collecting gold and using it to buy extra equipment or, indeed, to amass for its own sake. There’s a scoring mechanism based around gold held at the end of the game, maidens saved (have I mentioned the maidens? No? Play the game and find out what I’m on about, go on!) and monsters killed. Since Version 1.1, it even keeps a text file filled with the sort of detailed gameplay stats nerds will love and non-nerds will pretend they’re not interested in.
It’s very hard to get bored of this game; I’ve tried, honestly I have, but it just keeps you playing. The random level generation means that every game is different and dealing with the various monsters, characters and problems that Spelunky throws at you never seems to lose its appeal. It’s probably the best game released in the last ten years and it’s free. The world shouldn’t work like this.
You can download Spelunky for free from here. If you have an XBox360, rumours persist that it will be arriving at XBox Live sometime in the near future.