Oh, I realize I should probably clarify here: When I say “IREM’s team” in this case, we’re referring to none other than the Family Computer’s favorite ghost developer: The Tose Corporation. “You can only fire when standing on solid ground.”Spelunker Japanese box art. The 2007 browser game Syoban Action (developed by the unknown ‘Chiku’) was arguably the first game in this scene to make a notable splash; its development owing direct thanks to a similar game which was previously popular on 2channel (the ASCII-styled The Big Adventure of Owata), and which lifts design elements from a number of other classic Famicom titles. And what is it that stands in the way of our intrepid explorer and this unclaimed treasure? This may present a genuine wrinkle in your standard strategy, if you still happen to rely on your limited supply of flares in order to scare off bats. At this point – as the company continues to bring him out to help promote new Spelunker releases – he’s now properly known to the Japanese gaming community as “The Father of Spelunker,” and treated apparently graciously for his contributions. Perhaps the peak of Spelunker’s cultural saturation though can be seen with its inspiring a popular slang phrase / insult: “スペ体質” (‘Spelunker’s constitution’) can be heard as a dig at injury-prone individuals, particularly within the context of Japan’s baseball leagues. Bearing all that in mind, it’s high time we start spelunkin’. Shame I’m so god-awful at Spelunky, which controls better in every possible way. spelunker: [noun] one who makes a hobby of exploring and studying caves. So, no: I don’t believe that Spelunker’s Famicom creators truly intended to frustrate players to the point of filling used game bins… but claiming that they did some years later certainly helps add to the game’s mystique, doesn’t it? For their part, VSS would persist in the market for a while longer (until at least 1986), but would no longer require Tim or Rob’s services. At the very least, the claim that the original cartridge is still a common sight in game shop discount bins seems to be accurate. Although created in the US, Spelunker's popularity peaked in Japan... and is still growing. But as I say: More on that later. At least in Japan, Spelunker would see follow-ups over the next couple of years. We’ll be doing our due diligence in unearthing the details of the original Spelunker’s development, before establishing the link to its subsequent reimaginings in Japan. The original Pitfall! In any case, if you’re asking for abilities outside of the very basics of video game movement, there’s effectively three: A ‘Phantom Blaster’ for deterring approaching ghosts, bombs that can be placed to blow up impeding rocks (as well as some secret walls), and flares that can be fired into the air to temporarily scare off guano-bombing bats. In fact, you’ll find that the game is actually pretty boring once you’re able to overcome the control hurdle, and that its level design really is as basic as basic can be. Something went wrong. About that North American localization: With Brøderbund and IREM waiting a whole two years to bring Spelunker back over to the states,** and subsequently failing to back it with any sort of marketing push, its homecoming resulted in a dud both critically and financially… at least, according to further rumor and speculation. To be clear here: While the Famicom version of Spelunker loosely bases its stages and obstacle courses on MGI’s original source material, it does so within a far smaller scope. The first area is described as / signified by its ‘Elevator,’ the second features an added emphasis on jumping between ‘Ropes,’ a third showcases a pair of water-related hazards [referred to as the ‘Shaft’], and the final fourth is built around the legendary ‘Pyramid.’*** Ultimately though, you’ll find that these assigned titles (with the exception of the Pyramid) are fairly pointless; as levels past the first will still see you using elevators, ropes remain ever-present through the whole game, and as you can describe any of the deeper holes in the cavern as a “shaft” if you wanted to.