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Spelunky’s Sublime Music Keeps Me Addicted To Dying

Screenshot: Mossmouth / MobyGames / Kotaku
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Welcome to Morning Music, Kotaku’s new, daily hangout for folks who love video games and the cool-ass sounds they make. Ever play Spelunky? No no no. We are hipsters here, so obviously I meant the original freeware game from 2008. Ugh, whatever. Just come in already.

I don’t recall how I first found Spelunky, but I sure remember being addicted circa 2009. Derek Yu’s original action-roguelite masterpiece was very adept at making me say “just one more try” only to crush my hopes with yet another death more elaborate and unlucky than chance alone could explain.

As is often the case for me (maybe you’re noticing a pattern) I think a lot of my affection for the game stems from its wonderful soundtrack, by Usagi Buzinkai and Jonathan Perry.

Let’s listen:

Mossmouth / MixHenry (YouTube)

The game kicks off strongly with an incredible, multi-layer title theme that somehow seems both nostalgic and mysterious. Its synths sound relatively basic, almost NES-like, but a little more sophisticated, with greater polyphony. Very smooth.

Then you start the game and find yourself in the caves, the theme for which (2:46) is otherworldly in its ability to never get old no matter how many times you die and have to restart. You’re guaranteed to hear this tune every run and it will drill into your brain, in the most pleasant way.

That’s it. That’s the soundtrack.

Just kidding, there are three more main zone themes and several incidental tunes, and they’re perfectly good, if less obviously captivating. But to me Spelunky’s soundtrack is chiefly memorable for those first two, infectious melodies.

The 2013 expanded, HD Spelunky has a completely new soundtrack by Eric Suhrke (Bandcamp). It sounds like this:

Mossmouth / crimsonVoldrox (YouTube)

This 99% new OST was slightly controversial but I find it pretty excellent in its own right. It has a lot more variety—more than twice as much material—and finds a sound that’s both appropriately retro and distinctive from the freeware soundtrack. I like the HD Spelunky itself less, but it’s still good, and so is its music. Anyone who disagrees can go whip a snak—make an appropriately respectful comment to that effect.

Blink and you’ll miss it, but there’s a cool callback to the original at (34:14). Into it.

Well well, you’ve spelunked to the bottom of today’s Morning Music. I’ll see you bright and early tomorrow! I’m lost in a cave, by the way. Just kidding, merely a lie meant to tie into the subject of this article.