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A craving for caving: 12 top tips for getting started in Spelunky

By Iain Wilson on Saturday 7th Sep 2013 at 2:00 PM UTC

For those who haven't already been drawn into its imposing caverns, Spelunky is a cross between a platformer and a roguelike, pitting players against randomly generated levels full of secrets, traps and enemies waiting to kill you at every turn. After first appearing back in 2008 as a freeware game, it was given a HD overhaul for Xbox Live Arcade last year and has recently been released on both PC and PlayStation Network.

The first thing you notice when playing Spelunky is that it's hard. REALLY hard. Exploring is a daunting prospect for the uninitiated, as there are many ways you can be instantly killed and death is permanent, sending you right back to the start and losing all the treasure and equipment you picked up along the way.

Follow our advice to get started on the right path, and you'll discover an incredibly addictive game where no two adventures are ever the same. Recklessness is sure to lead to an early demise, so take your time while roaming the dangerous potholes and remember your ABCs - Always Be Careful!


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I GET AROUND

There are some basic rules to getting around the environments you're exploring that may not seem obvious at first, but will help you out a great deal once you know them. Although spikes are instantly fatal to land on, you can walk through them if you're on the same horizontal level and even jump out of them - just make sure you don't fall back down on top. In the Jungle you can climb trees by jumping against their trunks, and drop down through their branches by pressing down and jump at the same time to reach the areas underneath. This move will also allow you to descend ladders much quicker.


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LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAP

As you make your way down through the levels there is a great risk of damage or death when dropping to lower sections. To avoid this, hold down on the pad for a couple of seconds to view the area below you, to make sure there are no spikes or traps to land on. Your Spelunker can already survive falling a reasonable distance, and to extend this further you can walk off a ledge then turn around and grab it to hang from the edge. You can also survive big falls if you land on an enemy, but be wary of their movement so they don't jump out of the way.


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LAND OF ROPE AND GLORY

Ropes are usually thrown upwards from your position, and will hook into the background if they don't hit a platform before reaching their maximum length, so they can then be climbed to access new areas. A rope can be also launched while you're jumping to reach extra height, or dropped over a ledge while crouching next to it so you can safely descend to lower levels, and it will trigger any traps it passes on the way down. Although it's not an ideal use for this tool, it will kill any flying enemies it hits above you and is the only weapon that can be fired directly upwards.


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BOOM RAIDER

Taking time to practice throwing bombs to learn their arc and bounce will be greatly beneficial in the long run, as you can then use them to hit distant targets and boss enemies without accidentally destroying the whole area or, more importantly, blowing yourself up. They can be placed with much more precision by crouching before releasing one, which will place it directly in front of you if there's space or at your position if you're up against a wall. Bomb Paste can bought in shops, found or obtained by killing a Giant Spider, and this gives you Sticky Bombs that will attach to the first surface or enemy they hit.


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KNOW YOUR ENEMY

Identifying the different types of enemy and learning how they move will help you avoid taking pointless damage from them, by knowing where they're going to go next. Don't forget that as well as whipping or throwing objects at them, you can also jump on their heads to deal damage, with the exception of Mantraps and boss enemies. Some foes take several hits to kill, entering a brief stunned state instead the first couple of times you attack them, which you can exploit to either run past them or pick them up and throw them out of the way or onto spikes to kill them instantly.


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CHUCK ROCKS

If you aren't carrying a Damsel, Golden Idol or tool and your hands are free, you should always try and carry a rock or other object around with you. You can then throw this at enemies to kill them, which is often more effective than trying to use the whip up close, then pick it up and reuse it. You can also use these objects to trigger traps, but watch out for rebounds off walls when throwing them as some will cause injury if they bounce back and hit you. Never use the whip to break open pots or an enemy inside may surprise you, instead pick them up and throw them to reveal the contents at a safe distance.

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