Spelunky made a splash like a pebble in a pond. Small. Quiet. So many ripples.
The unique open-source model was launched in 2008 on TIGSource with modest however potent fanfare, successful over an outspoken and important band of acolytes from indie designer Jason Rohrer to Double Fine studio head Tim Schafer. Critic-turned-narrative-writer Anthony Burch wrote of the pre-1.zero model of the game, “Spelunky could be one of the most unassumingly thoughts blowing video games of the final 10 years.”
On Christmas Day 2009, creator Derek Yu gave followers a present — the supply code — that fed oxygen to this spark of a group. Fans created mods that allowed them so as to add characters, port the game to Mac OS X, and mine its recordsdata for any hidden secrets and techniques.
But the Spelunky most individuals know is really a remake, launched in 2012. Created by Yu and Andy Hull, it’s a extra polished, colourful, and one way or the other much more enigmatic game. During this decade, this model of Spelunky (typically labeled Spelunky HD) has made good on the potential Burch noticed in the final decade.
This refined Spelunky revived an underappreciated style; fostered a group of critics and sleuths, modders and speedrunners; and has single-handedly saved my PlayStation Vita charged because it received ported onto the forsaken transportable.
FTL: Faster Than Light, Rogue Legacy, The Binding of Isaac, and lots of different video games that can land on best-of-the-decade lists wouldn’t exist as we all know them with out Spelunky for inspiration. Countless designers and teachers who haven’t borrowed from the game spend no much less time discussing it at events, in lectures, and of course at nice size on podcasts. Have you listened to The Spelunky Showlike, a Spelunky-inspired present hosted by some of the nice game makers and thinkers working at the moment? It’s 30 episodes deep and counting. (Start with episode 6, by which the hosts discuss with Yu about Spelunky 2.)
Arguably extra fascinating than the influence Spelunky has had on game design is the mark it has made on the lives of its gamers. See, you don’t beat Spelunky, as its remaining boss isn’t actually its remaining boss. Nor is its final stage the finish of the game. Completing Spelunky is extra like lastly studying how you can swim or experience a motorcycle — you’ve accomplished the preliminary hurdle, however the actual enjoyable is the way you apply your ability subsequent.
Speedrunners have handled it like a gymnasium, concocting a spread of difficult impediment programs, then conducting them at eye-melting pace. Modders have stuffed it with beloved characters and new phases. And streamers have mined it for secrets and techniques that I’m not solely positive its creator ever anticipated individuals to seek out.
In 2013, game designer Douglas Wilson unpacked what he known as the “most fascinating video game moment” of the yr: the solo Eggplant run. “At its core,” wrote Wilson, “the solo Eggplant run is an exhilarating story about how livestreaming is altering video video games in radical and thrilling methods; how the web has lastly triumphed over Spelunky’s creators, Derek Yu and Andy Hull; how mastery can result in a wonderful form of efficiency, showcasing the worth of gaming as human tradition. And it hinges on a mysterious eggplant.”
For years, gamers continued to uncover comparable secrets and techniques hidden inside Spelunky’s caverns. And once they felt they’d discovered every part its creators had deliberately created, the fans mined Spelunky for unintentional treasures. It’s reminiscent of a basic portray in the means it rewards intense, considerate, and common viewings. That it advantages from years of vital interpretation. That it hides secrets and techniques that may solely be discovered with an X-ray machine, or, in Spelunky’s case, some code manipulation.
That is why I can comfortably say Spelunky is the closest that video video games have come to perfection on this decade — or any decade. Its flaws and bugs aren’t issues; they’re brushstrokes, proof that this little slice of the divine was in truth made by people.
The most influential video video games aren’t all the time the most fashionable, and rankings by no means inform the entire story. To mark the finish of the decade, our editorial workforce printed a listing of the high 100 video games. We’ve additionally created this supplemental collection, by which particular person Polygon writers get to speak about the most important video games from that very same interval, and precisely how they modified the course of the trade.