Spelunky 2 is out this month on PS4 and PC, and it’s a superb sequel to Derek Yu’s influential roguelike masterpiece. It’s also very challenging, and while part of the fun is learning the game and mastering it, there are some things I wish I’d known before plugging dozens of hours into it. Here are a few to help you along.
1. How to kill bats easily every time
The purple bats you encounter in Spelunky 2 will catch you out more than you would imagine. There’s just something about the arc of their flight that messes with your whip aim, and jumping on their heads is harder than it looks. Fortunately, there is a reliable way to dispose of them: simply face away and crack your whip. Because you bring your whip back behind your head before cracking it forward, you do damage slightly behind you every time you press the button, and it happens marginally faster than the damage you do to objects in front of you.
2. Use your bombs
What are you saving them for? Spelunky 3? Sure, you might wish you had more in a couple of levels’ time, but you also might be dead before then if you don’t blast your way through the floor to avoid the spider party going on just up ahead.
3. New levels are easier than old levels
One of Spelunky 2’s new features is the option to choose between different sets of levels at certain junctures. Go through one door and you might find yourself in the jungle, while the other takes you to volcanic caverns. Later on you can choose between brutal temples and a perilous new life aquatic. Returning players will recognise some of these places, but my advice is to focus on the new locations (Volcana, Tide Pool) while you’re getting to grips with things. Jungle and Temple may offer the comfort of familiarity, but they are ferocious. Try them later.
4. How to use ledges to your advantage
If you reach the end of a path and the only way appears to be down into the abyss, don’t panic. If you have a climbing rope to hand, make sure you’re facing the edge, crouch down and press the rope button. This will drop a climbing rope down over the ledge, allowing you to descend safely. Arrow trap in the way? Ropes and pretty much any other object, including an incapacitated enemy, can be dropped to trigger them – again, just crouch and press the button. Always look before you leap, too: crouching down for a couple of seconds will lower the camera to show you more of what lies beneath.
5. If it can damage you, it can damage an enemy, too
If 2020 has you lamenting the loss of rules-based international order, Spelunky 2 may be just the tonic, because any law to which you are subject can also affect your enemies. (Take that, Dom!) Spike traps can skewer you in a second, but they also do the same to bats, spiders, snakes and scorpions. Lava burns you to a crisp, but if you drop it on the heads of your enemies, they will suffer the same fate. Use this knowledge to your advantage.
6. Rideable steeds are super useful
In addition to being highly amusing, the animals you can mount and ride around in Spelunky 2 are very useful, and usually confer abilities that will keep you safe. The turkey can double-jump and hover, and when you get to the jungle you’ll discover it can walk safely across the shorter spikes that carpet the floor. Over in Volcana, the rock hound has a lot to offer, including FIRE BREATH, while the Tide Pool axolotl is every bit as useful as it is cute.
7. Switch it up if you’re banging your head against the wall
You will die a lot while playing Spelunky. It’s inevitable. Sometimes it’s how you learn something, and sometimes it’s just because you’re being momentarily cack-handed. Once you’ve unlocked the first shortcut though, don’t be afraid to mix it up. If you’re perma-stuck on Jungle or Volcana, go back to the Mines and try longer runs to build your confidence back up. If Temple is doing your head in, try Tide Pool. And don’t forget you can play with your friends – online multiplayer is always there to help rediscover the fun.