Digging Into Spelunker HD For PlayStation 3

One of the fourteen "unannounced" titles that Sony had on display at this year's Tokyo Game Show was Minna de Spelunker, a modern day remake of the 1985 NES platformer Spelunker for the PlayStation Network.

Irem hasn't strayed far from the original, adding only high-definition graphics and up to four-person multiplayer. One can still play with an original 8-bit graphics setting, which was on display at Sony's and Irem's booth, even in split-screen modes. The HD version, while it looks technically better, plays identical to its retro counterpart (i.e. painfully).

Spelunker may be fondly remembered (or hated) for its unforgiving difficulty; you'll need to perform very precise jumps and memorize level patterns to survive. Falling even a few feet means certain death for your cave explorer.

Spelunker pits you against a wide variety of underground dangers, including rolling boulders and deadly bat shit. Thankfully, you can avoid those guano storms with flares you'll find scattered throughout the caves. You'll drop bombs to clear obstacles and collect color-coded keys to bypass doors, all the while on the hunt for treasure. It's straightforward stuff, to be sure, with limited appeal. Masochists with a streak of Spelunker nostalgia will probably adore it.

Irem has updated the graphics, sometimes for the worse. The titular spelunker looks nowhere near as endearing as his 8-bit ancestor. However, some aspects, like the creeping purple ghosts, look spectacular. It's a tad hit-or-miss, but serviceable and on par with Irem's other recently announced 8-bit remake, R-Type Dimensions.

The TGS floor demo was pretty brief. Burning through it took about three minutes, a bit longer if it was your first go at the game. It feels very much like a relic, but polished up and lovingly released upon the Spelunker-loving masses. We don't really expect it to appeal to too many PlayStation 3 owners because of its severe difficulty and dated mechanics. That said, we didn't have the opportunity to experience four-miner multiplayer. There's a possibility that that could be slightly enjoyable.