Most everything in Spelunky 2 is out to kill you, so it’s always nice to come across Yang, a random NPC who mostly just chills in a little hut and talks about turkeys. But as my explorations continue to improve, so too has my knowledge of Yang’s racket, and I’m disappointed by what I’ve discovered.
Yang, who served as the tutorial NPC in the first Spelunky before being unlocked as a playable character, loves turkeys. But don’t take that to mean he snacks on them as some sort of perpetual Thanksgiving celebration. No, Yang’s appreciation for the birds goes deeper than that. He’ll reward you if you bring him happy, healthy turkeys. The rideable birds have a chance to appear anywhere in the early levels, but when Yang is around, you can count on at least two making an appearance. After finding them, taming them, and transporting them to Yang, he gives you a key that unlocks a nearby storage area that typically includes a few gems and maybe some ropes or bombs. The rewards aren’t incredible, but if you’re not in the mood to cook the turkeys for a little bit of extra health, it can be a neat diversion.
But don’t try harming a turkey near his outpost or even bringing him a turkey that’s already died. He goes apeshit. He will shoot you with his crossbow without even blinking.
Randomly waiting for you to bring him turkeys aside, the next time Yang shows up is a lesson in how capitalism infects everything, even a long-lost underground civilization on the moon. Much like its predecessor, Spelunky 2 is full of shopkeepers with helpful wares like jetpacks and shotguns. While at first Yang just seems like a dude who maybe runs a turkey farm somewhere, his ambitions become obvious when you reach the jungle. If you assisted Yang previously, you’ll find that he’s opened a “pet shop” smack dab in the middle of the game’s steamy second biome, selling turkeys at $3000 a pop.
That’s not a whole lot of money for a Spelunky 2 run, but it’s the principle of the thing. You help this guy wrangle some very unruly birds, for which he rewards you with a pittance compared to the effort it usually takes. And then, later on, he has the nerve to sell them back to you. Sure, you can argue that this is meant to help players who maybe haven’t had the best of luck up to that point, since turkeys can double-jump or be killed for health, but it just makes me feel cheated. Yang could at least cut you in on some of the profits.
Spelunky 2 is fun because the world in which it takes place feels vibrant and alive. There are secrets around every corner, some massive and some just neat little interactions that don’t have a huge effect on the adventure. Yang’s subtle evolution from turkey enthusiast to salesman is an obvious one, but it bums me out all the same. One minute, you think you’re helping a dude find some friends. The next, he’s profiting off your hard work with no shame.
Keep this in mind next time you come across Yang in the caves. Your labor, especially labor that builds a business from the ground up for someone else, is worth more than a few measly gems.