Review: Spelunker Party! (Switch)

Is it worth diving into or a cave best left unexplored?

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 11/17/2017 12:30 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
1-Up Mushroom for...
Clean and crisp graphics might not be mind blowing, but they pop and make exploration fun; multiplayer works well; customization.
Poison Mushroom for...
Cheap deaths from a very particular set of rules for jumping; more depth would be nice as the lack of puzzles makes it pretty easy to get through the game.

Spelunker Party! is frustrating. There are moments where I found myself in the middle of an epic run, snagging keys, avoiding obstacles, swinging across chasms with rope, and overall just really enjoying myself. Other moments, however, I found myself cursing at the TV screen because my character died from falling an insanely short distance. This is the dual nature of Spelunker Party! that fans will either embrace or quickly become tired of.

For my part, I was content with grappling with the odd physics of Spelunker Party! mainly because, when the game works, it works very well. This is actually a re-release/remake of the 2015 PlayStation 4 and Steam game called Spelunker World. The biggest difference between Party! and World is that the latter had some obnoxious free-to-play model going on with micro transactions and the like. Thankfully, Spelunker Party! has no such junk embedded in its code, instead allowing players to sit back and properly enjoy its gameplay without distractions.

The game is fairly straightforward, tasking players to reach the end of the level before they run out of air. There are multiple avatars to choose from with a plethora of items to outfit them with. These different items can be upgraded and are also capable of granting a range of buffs to power up your character. Once in a stage, players can choose to go it alone, or tackle Spelunker Party! with up to four other pals. Thankfully players have the option of linking up in person or online.

Spelunker Party! is good fun when you come to firmly grasp its very particular rules. Platforming is a huge part of the action, but note that you have to jump just right in order to avoid death. A little too high off the ground and your avatar is dead as disco. It’s not often that a 2D platformer is so restrictive in how players get to and from one flat surface to another, but that’s the card Party! has decided to play. I’ve tried rationalizing that perhaps the design choice is meant to imbue a sense of realism, to convey that if a normal person tried to make a jump from such a distance in real life they’d be hurt or killed; it’s hard to say, but it ultimately proved to be a bit annoying. I eventually learned to compensate for the quirk, but I wish it wasn’t there to begin with.

Despite this, Spelunker Party! still manages to be a good time. It’s fun going it either alone or as a group, although the experience would have been better served with a little more depth mixed in. The stages are very straightforward with minimal puzzle solving involved. Thus, while the mayhem of seeing your buddies zipping around and dying is a joy, it’s not going to take much thought to get to the goal. The extra challenges that come in the form of Quests at least help to alleviate this somewhat, but a cumbersome menu system manages to make even that less entertaining than it should be.

Overall, Spelunker Party! is a solid time. It’s easy to pick up and play, which is good for a title that clearly wants multiple people joining in. The cheap deaths that the game subjects players to can be real momentum killers, but once you find yourself in a groove, it’s hard to not want to keep going from stage to stage. With over 100 stages to explore and no micro transactions to speak of, this is a much better value than its predecessor and helps make Spelunker Party! another worthy addition to Switch’s library.

Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.

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