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Spelunker (Arcade)

Spelunker Arcade Title screen


Critic Score
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
User Score
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Written by  :  Katakis | カタキス (41094)
Written on  :  Nov 16, 2019
Platform  :  Arcade
Rating  :  3.8 Stars3.8 Stars3.8 Stars3.8 Stars3.8 Stars
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A classic Brøderbund game gets a release in the arcades

The Good

Usually a game from a high-profile company, such as Irem or Taito, gets released in the arcades. If it is popular enough, it will be ported to home systems. A few games, however, made its debut on these systems before making its way to the arcades. One such game is Spelunker, an enjoyable game from Brøderbund Software released for early 8-bit computers where you control a miner navigating a huge cave system, trying to collect as many treasures as he can while avoiding enemies and ghosts. Irem, the Japanese company responsible for the excellent R-Type, obtained a license from Brøderbund to create arcade versions of their titles, and one of them was this game.

After checking out what the home computer ports were like, I noticed something different about the arcade version as soon as I started a new game: the inclusion of background music. The music is nothing new, given that the updated versions of Spelunker for NES and MSX already include music. However, it is totally different and blends in with the setting. It changes track when the green ghost randomly appears, and the music goes back to normal when it is killed by the miner’s weapon. The sound effects that I like were heard when the miner smacks his head on the edge of a platform and when he is falling to the ground.

I was impressed at how good the graphics are. The protagonist is drawn nicely, and his animations are superb. I enjoyed watching him smack his head when you attempt to jump on a platform at the wrong spot. As he falls down, his hat becomes loose as he is hurdling toward the ground. I like how the caverns look different to their original counterparts, and how there are sprites unique to the level. For example, there is water gushing out of the platform on level three, and a pyramid-like structure on level four that comes complete with an elevator.

When you get through the fourth cavern, you get an actual ending: the infamous "World of Legend" that comes complete with the Taj Mahal. After the ending, the game is repeated from cavern one, giving you a chance to reach #1 in the high score chart.

The Bad

This is an arcade game, so it is usually hard to find faults with the parent.

The Bottom Line

Spelunker is a great game where you have to search for treasures while avoiding many nasties. The graphics and sound are great, and it is one of the few games to be ported to the arcades. If this wonderful version had been ported back to home systems, it would have been called Spelunker - The Arcade Game.