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Everyday Spelunker (iOS) Review

Everyday Spelunker is a re-release of the classic 80s game, available for modern touch-screen devices.

I grew up with an Atari 2600 and and Apple //c, and was fortunate enough to play many of the popular games of the time, I never had the chance to play Spelunker. The classic Brøderbund game has been recently remade as Everyday Spelunker for practically all modern Apple iOS devices.

There are a couple of interesting perks to going back and playing re-releases of classic games that I’ve never played before. First off, like playing any new game, it’s a brand new experience. Despite the original title coming 3 decades ago, it’s enjoyable to have a fresh take on a game, even if it’s nearly as old as I. The second benefit is that I get to play a “new” classic game with modern-day expectations.

Spelunker’s original box art

Everyday Spelunker is a tough game, and it will punish you over and over again. In the 80s, arcade machines were designed to cheat you out of your quarters. Anything and everything can kill you with a simple touch. Fall too far, and you’re dead; Touch an enemy and you’re dead. There is a reason why record holding gamers like Steve Weibe and Billy Mitchell were held in such high regard. These classic games were hard! Really hard! And while they’re not much to look at, and there isn’t a lot of processor power behind any type of game-learning Artificial Intelligence, the levels and obstacles get more and more difficult the further you go.

Thankfully, Everyday Spelunker knows that the modern gamer probably doesn’t have the patience to dedicate hours of their time each day to memorize patterns or have the same type of reactionary skills to play a classic game, especially on a touch-screen device, so they made it easier. Easier in that when you die, you won’t start too far away from your kill spot. You’ll die many a time, and you’ll get used to hearing the familiar tunes as you die and restart, likely several times over the course of one minute.

It got to the point that I began dying so much, while I was playing in the same room with my wife, that I had to excuse myself and move to another room because it was as if I was playing a song on the iPad and starting it over at the beginning every 15 seconds. Misplaced jump – dead; fell off a platform lift – dead; let the ghost catch me – dead. Whew!

Because you need to have to time your actions or have quick reactions, the touch screen’s virtual buttons are a hit and miss. The button overlay doesn’t get in the way, but you need to be aware of your finger placement at nearly every moment.

Everyday Spelunker was played on a third-generation iPad, which was comfortable. It’s also available on smaller-screen devices like the iPhone and recent iPod Touch models. While I didn’t play it on any of the smaller Apple devices, I can see it as being a passable experience, especially if you’re fortunate enough to have a larger device on hand.

The point of Everyday Spelunker (and its classic) is to collect a bunch of keys placed throughout a vertical mineshaft. Along the way there are many obstacles to overcome, some stationary, like piles of rubble, or active (and evil) like bats and ghosts (who materialize out of thin air). Your spelunker isn’t completely defenseless, and has an assortment of tools to overcome challenges. Dynamite can be picked up to destroy blockades and an airgun can keep some of the baddies at bay. Once you navigate the maze of obstacles to find all of the area’s keys, you can then unlock the passageway to the next area, where you will do exactly the same thing.

Most recently re-releases of classic games seem to have some sort of HD uplift, however Everyday Spelunker looks and sounds exactly like it probably did back in the early 1980s. Outside of the forgivable respawn points, Tozai Game’s modern sensibilities to this classic game come in an interesting (and perhaps in a slightly controversial way). While the original title seems to be intact, you can purchase additional episodes for a premium. These additional episodes are available for $0.99 each, and likely contains completely new levels, designed with the classic game in mind by Tozai Games. While the review code was provided, access to the premium content was not, so I can only speculate about them.

Final Thoughts:

As a fan of difficult games (with forgiving checkpoints), I really enjoyed Everyday Spelunker. It’s brutal in that keeping-pumping-in-quarters sort of way, but with a forgiving “checkpoint” system.

Everyday Spelunker for iOS is available for $3.99 on the iTunes App Store, and while I liked it a lot, it’s hard for me to recommend it to modern gamers. Your enjoyment of Everyday Spelunker depends greatly on your appreciation on classic games, and how challenging you like your games, and unfortunately the iOS doesn’t really have any sort of demo or try-before-you-buy options. I think I almost would have preferred a lower initial cost, like $0.99 or even $1.99 to entice people to try the game without spending a lot, and charging a bit more for the premium content.

If you’re a classic arcade enthusiast, grew up playing Spelunker and have fond memories of it, or enjoy playing retro-style games, the suggestion is a bit easier to make: I think it’s definitely worthy of a purchase. Everyday Spelunker will pay itself off in 16 game overs — which is easily accomplished in about 15 minutes. 🙂

About Troy

Troy is the Features Editor at Brutal Gamer. When he's not writing about or playing video games, he's enjoying life with his wife and children. He also loves coffee. And lots of it.

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