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Spelunky Guide - City of Gold

The long and highly aspired to reach hidden level is the City of Gold. The arduous quest, requiring both luck and persistence, is explained in detail in this article. And though the City of Gold is so difficult to reach, it is just a step in the direction of reaching the final zone of Spelunky, Hell!

City of Gold

  • Journal entry: The City of Gold! So the legends were true!

Sounds like an alluring place, doesn’t it? With the driven goal of acquiring treasure in Spelunky, it sure is. And as always, reward is not without its challenge or risk. Next to secret zone of Hell, the city of gold is among the most difficult places to get to in the whole game of Spelunky due to its steep requirements for gaining entrance. If you were seeking additional challenge and heights to the game, then the city of gold is a large way to get that.

The city of gold is directly accessible in the temple. A golden door will spawn exclusively in four two that leads to the city of gold. It looks a lot like a giant golden lock. But to be able to open this golden door, you will need to have found, acquired, and done several things well before you find the golden door.

The first step in gaining entrance to the city of gold is acquiring the Udjat Eye. To do so, you must first begin your play through in the mines. The udjat eye can be found in the gold chest located on either the second, third, or fourth level of the mines. This gold chest is unlocked by the gold key that spawns on the same level with the gold chest. So if you see either of those objects – the gold key or the gold chest – know that the other will be spawned with it on the very same level. If you proceed past the level, carrying either one of these, then you will have lost your chance at getting the udjat eye.

The second step is then to acquire the Ankh from the black market secret level. The black market is hidden in the jungle, spawning in either the first, second, or third level. The previously acquired udjat eye will reveal the secret entrance to you by blinking in greater frequency with blue, while making a tinking noise. Quicker that light and noise becomes, the closer your Spelunker is to the entrance.

The ankh is located in a shop towards the back of the black market level, at the hefty price of fifty thousand treasure. This is moderately steep at such an early level in the game, but so long as you focus on acquiring over ten thousand treasure a level, you should be able to afford the cost of the ankh. The cost of the ankh becomes considerably easier to achieve, and the quota necessary per level lessened in amount, if the black market’s entrance spawns in a level of the jungle later than that of the first level.

Although it is possible to actually find the entrance of the black market without the udjat eye, it is unlikely you will be able to. The door to the black market shares the same model as the entrance and exit of the jungle, in that it is grown over with vines. Sometimes a part of the door’s model can peek out from the tiles. Even if the door is somewhat visible, this is difficult to see regardless, due to how green heavy the jungle zone is.

The third step is to acquire the hedjet, located in the ice caverns. In one of the levels in the ice caverns a special statue will spawn, a giant stone face called the moai. Once you have found the moai, you must kill your Spelunker. Yes, you have to kill your Spelunker. By doing so, and possessing the ankh, your spelunker will resurrect inside of the moai. Inside of the moai is the hedjet. You will lose the ankh by doing this, but that was the true purpose of the ankh – to get you the hedjet. You might think you can get access to the hedjet in another way, such as teleporting inside of the moai or blasting apart of the moai, but none of this will work. The inside of the moai is treated like a solid tile if your Spelunker has not resurrected with the ankh, and so attempting to teleport inside of the moai will only result in telefraging your Spelunker.

The fourth step is to acquire the scepter in the temple, which is only found in the first level. This scepter is in possession of anubis, the mini boss that projects purple psychic attacks. Upon defeating anubis, he will drop his scepter. Be careful not to accidentally destroy his scepter in the process of defeating him, such as by a crush trap or with lava.

Finally with the udjat eye, the ankh, the hedjet, and the scepter in your Spelunker’s possession, you may then open the golden door to the city of gold. Upon opening this door, you will lose the scepter, leaving your Spelunker with just the udjat eye that is of use, while every other artifact has been spent, lost, or just useless at this point.

Every single tile in the city of gold has treasure in it, even the traps do. You can clearly see the difference in the terrain. The City of Gold is styled like the temple, but the whole of the terrain is glazed over with shimmery gold. This has the effect of everything blending together, most particularly the traps. If you have ever had problems with crush traps before, then in the City of Gold is where it will be worst. They are amongst the hardest thing to pick out in the terrain.

To get the gold from the tiles, you will need to destroy those tiles, which requires that your Spelunker has several bombs, or at least a mattock. You will not be able to get those items while within the city of gold, so before entering the city of gold, come prepared with those things. Without those necessary items, there is little point in stepping foot into the City of Gold, aside from unlocking the journal entry.

The amount of treasure you can get in the city of gold is tremendous, presuming you do have those several bombs or mattock. A large nugget of gold comes from every block. But the city of gold also has the purpose of gaining access to the secret zone of hell, which is the zone beyond the temple, and therefor has the true final boss to the game of Spelunky.

Located in the city of gold is the book of the dead, an accessory item that functions much like the udjat eye in that it hones in on the entrance to hell in Olmec’s lair. It is absolutely necessary to possess the book of the dead to gain access to hell though, unlike the udjat eye, as the door will just not open unless your Spelunker has the book of the dead.

The book of the dead is rigged with a trap though. When your Spelunker picks up the book of the dead, anubis II will spawn.

Earlier it was said that there is not much point in entering the city of gold if you do not have an item that can destroy tiles. This is true for more than just acquiring treasure from the tiles. The book of the dead is always surrounded by four walls, encasing it entirely. You need at minimum one bomb to enter inside the chamber where the book of the dead rests on the pedestal. From there, it would be ideal to have at least two more bombs, and the bomb paste attachment, to be able to swiftly deal with anubis II.

Unlockable Character

The unlockable character found in the city of gold is hidden in a shaking coffin, much like the other ones. This character’s color is gold, unsurprisingly, and is a muscled, contently smiling monk. His skin really does act like solid gold, as glitters appear around him and trail after him.


  • Anubis II: Twenty (20) HP
    • Journal entry: The second incarnation of Anubis. He’ll do anything to protect the treasures of the underworld.

The second form of anubis, Anubis II is dressed in garb of green, white, and red, with pure green skin and a jackal head. He no longer wields his scepter or psychic powers, and instead calls upon powers of necromancy to fight your Spelunker. Continually anubis II will summon forth red skeletons, always three per summoning. The only difference to these red skeletons is that they can only stay alive so long - a lot like the magma men – and therefor disintegrate if around too long. This prevents anubis II from having an endlessly growing horde of enemies chasing after the Spelunker, but this does not stop the Spelunker from becoming overwhelmed by the number of red skeletons regardless. The total limit for how many red skeletons that can be animated at the same time is twenty; but due to the rate in which anubis II can summon forth red skeletons, you will have to make a larger dent in his army of red skeletons before this number dwindles much at all – if it has reached twenty.

These red skeletons are just as weak and slow as normal skeletons, and so anubis II might just be easier to defeat in this form than his previous form in the first level of the temple.

Anubis II retains the ability to float freely, but gains another supernatural attribute of being able to pass through objects just like the ghost. Furthermore, if you try to run away from anubis ii, he will actually follow your Spelunker through the door and to the next level. This will keep happening, so I suggest strongly you deal with anubis II initially, or else you will be very likely to die, and all your hard work in that play through will be completely gone.

It is more feasible than most mini bosses to defeat anubis II with whip attacks, but this will be a slow battle if you choose that route. Attack the red skeletons in bursts, and do not allow them to build up too much. Hopefully at this point in the game, you have the spike boots or the bomb paste. In this case, preferably the spike boots, due to how precious bombs are in the city of gold.

In depth Strategy

If you are looking for a greater challenge than starting from the mines, making it all the way to Olmec’s lair, and defeating the boss, then you will want to reach the city of gold, and the later secret zone of hell, to defeat king yama. Your behavior will change a lot in the straining effort to achieve this goal. Certain priorities will ultimately shift.

The udjat eye is of little consequence in terms of effort to acquire. You will just have to keep an eye out for it in every level past the first level for either the golden key or the golden chest; but since you are scouring each level for treasure anyway, the likelihood of you missing the golden key or the golden chest is low. That is another thing as well. When you are trying to reach the city of gold, and therefor hell, you need to amass as much treasure as possible early on in the game. You do this so you can afford the steep cost of the ankh, as commonly the entrance to the black market is in the first or second level, and then to be able to purchase anything else that can possibly benefit your Spelunker.

Unfortunately, due to the process of resurrecting to appear within the moai, your Spelunker will not be able to carry anything in his or her hands through that secret entrance. That means it is of little impact to purchase ranged weapons like the shotgun. Yes, you would be able to use the shotgun until you had to resurrect inside of the moai, but you would only be able to use that shotgun for a few levels on average, none of which would make the best use of the shotgun. Ideally you would want to defeat anubis with the shotgun, but you just cannot unless you manage to find it in the brief interim after resurrecting and then making it to the first level of the temple.

Items of priority.

So you will want to purchase accessory items and resources. Particularly these items are spike boots, spring shoes, climbing gloves, the cape, the jetpack, bomb paste, the pitcher’s mitt, and the compass. The paste you should only purchase if you did not manage to defeat a giant spider in the mines.

The bomb paste is so valuable and useful for a city of gold play through that if you are not confident in your ability to defeat a giant spider by jump attacks alone, then use a single bomb on the giant spider to one shot it. To effectively and effortlessly do so, just toss a bomb up into the two tiles of web that are beneath the ceiling clinging giant spider. The bomb will roll inside the webbing, but not fall, and neither agitate the giant spider into releasing its hold on the ceiling. This bomb is close enough to catch the giant spider in its blast radius, and so will one shot it. On top of it giving you a guaranteed bomb paste, it should give you a couple sapphires as well, helping you along in your treasure quota.

The absolutely highest priority item for this strategy is the jetpack. Nothing beats the jetpack in terms of benefit. You can definitely make it all the way into hell with just a jetpack, a bomb paste, and several bombs. Maybe as little as five bombs. The jetpack is rare to find though, and difficult to purchase as well due to its steep price tag. It’s somewhat of a gamble even to purchase the jetpack earlier on – before you make it to the black market and know you have enough treasure left over. It is substantially cheaper the earlier you find it, but it becomes that much more difficult to find enough treasure to afford the ankh.

Depending on your luck in terms of level generation, you might not be able to afford the ankh just because you purchased the jetpack. But since the jetpack is that rare, and is that important to success, it is worth taking the risk for. There is an immense benefit to be able to move in the y axis along with the x axis, particularly against the two bosses you are forced to fight – anubis and anubis II.

The cape should be purchased if you cannot afford or find a jetpack. It is nowhere near as good, but it still gives a great benefit to your Spelunker, especially in the ice caves. The cape can be difficult to afford as well, and by the time you are at the black market, the cape will cost around twenty thousand (20,000).

The two items, the spring shoes and the spike shoes, are more affordable, but also are of great benefit to your Spelunker. The spring shoes will help your Spelunker use less ropes and get around quicker and easier. The spike shoes will stop your Spelunker from precariously sliding around on ice, while heightening the damage of his or her jump attacks, which negates the invulnerability some mini bosses have to jump attacks, like the mammoth and the queen bee.

The climbing gloves are more complementary. They do not have a standalone benefit like the jetpack does, but they give your Spelunker a power of ascent unlike the cape. If you have to make a choice between the climbing gloves or cape, it’s difficult to say which is better. The climbing gloves might be a little superior, as their price tag continually becomes cheaper compared to the cape. At the point your Spelunker is at the black market, the climbing gloves cost around eleven thousand (11,000). That is nearly half of the price tag of the cape.

However, there is a flaw of tendency with the climbing gloves. This comes into glaring prominence in the temple. When within the temple, where your Spelunker has access to tends to be close quarters, with traps leering nearby. Sometimes you cannot help inadvertently latching onto walls as you are trying to sidle around traps and monsters. Commonly this is not a problem, and just facilitates moving more carefully, but if there is a crush trap capable of triggering on your Spelunker, you might accidentally latch onto the wall as you are trying to free fall past it, and instead your Spelunker gets crushed.

The pitcher’s mitt is a niche sort of item for this challenge. Its precision is useful in two key areas, both against two mini bosses. The pitcher’s mitt is not integral, but it increases your chances at success without death in a window of time where there is very little of it. If something goes wrong in that tiny window of time, the backlash is worse.

The pitcher’s mitt primary utility for this challenge is to be combined with a bomb paste imbued bomb, which is to be launched at anubis and anubis II. The incredibly swift, flat trajectory greatly facilitates in those two bosses’ deaths, and without fatality to your Spelunker. Despite this benefit though, it is not like you have too much funds to spread around. If you have little other option in what is available to your Spelunker to purchase, then purchase the pitcher’s mitt, but if there are some more valuable items you can get, then do without the pitcher’s mitt. Bombs, bomb paste, and jetpacks are always more important.

The compass is more an item that you get after you’ve gotten everything else you could, or is the item you get when you do not have the option to purchase anything else. The compass is keener on facilitating your survival, guiding you around when you need to quickly get out of the treacherous jungle. The compass becomes more useful the less equipped your Spelunker is, and if you happen to be unfortunate enough to get trapped in a darkness random level event.

The importance of bombs.

The last, and most important item to be focused on for this strategy, is bombs. Bombs are absolutely integral in getting to the city of gold, acquiring the book of dead, and getting to the secret zone of hell. You will need a minimum of one bomb to uncover the secret entrance to the black market, and this is if the area the secret entrance has spawned in is ideal. The secret entrance can sometimes be so buried that you need a few bombs to uncover it. And if the secret entrance is that deeply entrenched, then you are not going to be certain where the secret entrance precisely is. You might guess wrong, and you will have to consume yet another bomb above the minimum to uncover that secret entrance.

You might need one bomb to take out a giant spider without risking injury to your Spelunker. Although your hearts of health reset to four when your Spelunker is resurrected, you are still in high danger of death if you cannot make it all the way to the moai spawned level in the ice caves. A giant spider will take away two hearts of health, and so the caution in engaging them directly is warranted. It is not actually too bad jump attacking them ten times, but since they spew webbing randomly around, the webbing can catch your Spelunker, making him or her vulnerable to the giant spider leaping at your Spelunker. Sometimes it is just inevitable that your Spelunker will get hurt. You are not a machine. Having that available pool of four hearts of health helps to ensure your Spelunker’s survival until a stage has the moai spawned in it.

You might need one bomb to be able to safely get out of the black market. You will very quickly learn that despite the black market seeming like a bonus stage, it can have many hidden dangers. These dangers can be so severe that you can do very little to stop them from just enraging all the shopkeepers and ending your play through of hard work towards the city of gold.

The exit for the black market is always located on the bottom right of the level. That means you are forced to walk across one, uninterrupted plain. There is no alternative drop down like there is in every other level. Because of this, a slew of tiki traps tends to generate of variegated elevations. There can be as little as one tile of space overhead the tiki trap, while simultaneously the nearest patch of ground is a few tiles below, forcing your Spelunker to only be able to grab onto the top edge of a tiki trap. This can result in a swift death, as it is very difficult to lure the spikes out to give your Spelunker enough of a window in between the spikes coming out. Already so much achieved on your play through, the ankh accessory on your Spelunker, and perhaps whatever items you have managed to purchase, you will be tempted to just toss a bomb to avoid that death.

If you think you can make it past the tiki trap, even if it’s some risk, you should do it, as bombs are that precious of a resource. But if it’s unlikely, or too much of a risk, then just blast apart the tiki trap. There is also another possible generation of the tiki traps that can occur around the exit to the black market. There can be one directly adjacent to the exit, so that the spikes will protrude just as your Spelunker is able to pass through the exit. If you are quick enough, your Spelunker can get through. If there is just one tiki trap next to the exit, the risk is not too much, but caution must be taken.

What the worst thing that can happen is two tiki traps can spawn on either side of the exit. That means there are four possible spikes that can stab the Spelunker while he or she is trying to get into the exit. Of course, usually just one stab of a spike is enough to kill your Spelunker. Two pairs of spikes stabbing at once are like an insult to injury. The concern that lies in these two adjacent pairs of tiki traps is that by the time you get to the bottom, right at the exit, the lower portion of the spikes have already had time to inch out. This allots a very tiny window in which your Spelunker can pass through into the exit without dying. If you accidentally grab onto the edge though, and drop down, your Spelunker will probably die.

Coincidentally, this formation of tiki traps is actually what commonly appears at the exit of every level in hell. Regardless it is possible to make it to the exit between those two tiki traps, but it is of a vast amount less risk just to blast apart one of those tiki traps so your Spelunker can easily step through the exit.

You will not need any bombs in the ice caverns, as your primary purpose there is to just die where the moai statue has spawned. However if you are fortunate enough to have the crashed alien ship random level event occur, then you have the opportunity to acquire a treasure free jetpack. You just need to defeat the alien lord. And the easiest, most consistent way to do that is to lob a bomb right at the alien lord. Good luck killing the alien lord any other way, unless you have a shotgun. Then kudos to you, unless you kill your own Spelunker from ricocheting bullets off the intermittently flaring force field.

Regrettably you will probably need two bombs to deal with the alien lord though. One bomb to physically get inside of the ship, or else open up a hole to allow you to drop a bomb directly onto the alien lord. When you defeat the alien lord, be sure to wait for the psychic waves to dissipate as they linger after his death. The jetpack will be located on the upper ledge behind where the alien lord was sitting.

Because of the infrequency of this random level event occurring, which can’t help but seem worse on city of gold challenge play throughs, it is unlikely you will be able to get a jetpack from this method. Inside of the temple, on the first level, is where it can be an extremely veering hit or miss. When you are not trying to reach the city of gold, you have the actual option to engage or avoid anubis. He is a very risky encounter in general. The danger of anubis can be made worse by the level generation and where he is located therein. The special ability of the psychic waves anubis unleashes from his scepter is what makes this complicated.

Those psychic waves can pass through solid tiles, and if they come into contact with the Spelunker, they will instant gib him or her. You cannot realistically attack and defeat anubis by jump attacks or whip attacks, even with spring boots and spike boots. The psychic attacks that he swings out from his scepter will inevitably catch your Spelunker’s foot. You would have to either be absurdly skilled and/or ridiculously lucky, with a fervent persistence of speed.

To defeat anubis in optimal conditions, you will need two bombs, just two, the bomb paste accessory item, and a horizontal face off with him. Even though the temple has tight corners and cramped conditions, narrow corridors do form. Usually with a tiki trap or crush trap at the end of them somewhere. Anubis will more studiously avoid the proximity of crush traps, and so should you really, as they are the most prevalent source of death to the Spelunker in the temple.

He is not as tenacious in avoiding tiki traps though. So if you are lucky, you can lure him towards a tiki trap that will gradually nick away at his health.

The most practical way is just to launch two bombs in rapid succession right at him, the speed and pitch fueled by the pitcher’s mitt, so that the bombs lands right onto him and sticks from the bomb paste. He will not be harmed by this impact, but will not need to be. The bombs will detonate one right after the other, and he will be defeated from just a brief window that you needed to unleash the attack. In some extenuating circumstances, anubis might not actually need two bombs to defeat him, as he can receive damage from the environment via tiki traps prior to you encountering him.

From there, you just need to make it to the exit, and then find the golden door to the city of gold in the next level. Despite this being such a brief period of time, there is a proclivity to expend the most bombs here. This is because of the narrow areas clashing with tiki traps and crush traps. Often enough there are multiple routes, but crush traps are the most difficult to deal with. And the most unforgiving.

So far into your city of gold challenge play through, and so close to the city of gold, your frugality wanes with your bombs. Chances are high that it has taken you several attempts just to get this far, so you have all that effort and time riding on your Spelunker’s tiny shoulders. Either you exhaust a bomb to destroy a crush trap, or to blast through some terrain of the temple to circumvent a particularly dangerous section. Then, whatever bombs you have left, have to be used in the city of gold. If you are trying for score alone from treasure amount, then every tile in the city of gold drops a large nugget as mentioned. This is worth around seven hundred (700). No, not as great as a gem, but the blast from a bomb can knock several large nuggets free if placed optimally.

However if you are trying to get to the secret zone of hell, you will need at minimum one bomb to blast a hole into the chamber surrounding the book of the dead. When the book of the dead is picked up, the second incarnation of anubis appears. He has the same amount of health as his first incarnation did – twenty (20). Momentarily you are trapped in a cramped room with anubis II, whom will promptly begin summoning his red skeletons. With so little space available, the red skeletons can very easily harm your Spelunker. You should promptly leave this room, turn around, and launch two bombs swiftly at anubis II. Get some distance, and then watch as anubis II is blasted apart and a journal entry for anubis II is added to your save file. And that, that whole mess, is what you need bombs for.

In actuality, you need as many as possible, but practically, you need one for a giant spider, an estimated two to uncover the entrance to the black markets, two to defeat anubis, one to open the book of the dead’s chamber, two to defeat anubis, and an appreciated but frugal estimation of three to cover special circumstances, like fighting the alien lord, or getting around traps. No, that really is not a practical number. That is ten whole bombs. Depending on the level generation, you might come across a couple crates that give you three bombs each. If you are lucky, you will find one that gives you a whopping twelve bombs – that green crate that generally costs over ten thousand in treasure from the shopkeeper.

Dangers of the black market.

Now back to the black market. It was stated that the black market is purported to be a bonus level, and thus relatively free from harm to the Spelunker, but this is irritatingly not the case. Because of the tiny confinements of the black market, monsters can frequently provoke the shopkeepers, which will likely just end your play through by like seven different shotguns firing at you cumulatively.

Monsters you will have to be most concerned with are the fire frogs, which if allowed to detonate on anything considered a shopkeeper’s shop, will enrage the whole level of shopkeepers. If you somehow manage to survive all those shopkeepers – as there is hardly anywhere you can get out of reach of them to somehow manage to fight them one by one, or else lob bomb after bomb – there will be one more at the exit. The other monster you have to be concerned with is the tiki man. These tiki men can spawn anywhere. Really, any monster can, literally within the shops. If a tiki man spawns inside of a shop, then hopefully you can get to the ankh from another level, provided you do not provoke the tiki man. As soon as the tiki man notices you, he will unleash his boomerang. All hell will break lose shortly. Most likely his boomerang will hit you, since you did not see him until it was too late. And while your Spelunker is on the ground, that boomerang will hit a shopkeeper, if it already hasn’t. The shopkeeper will flip out, and so will the rest of them in the black market. If the boomerang does not hit a shopkeeper, when the tiki man charges – as he usually does after he loses his boomerang – then that will enrage the shopkeeper instead.

Shopkeepers are tenaciously territorial, but to this degree may just be buggy. The tiki man should not be able to harm the shopkeeper, as monsters that pursue the Spelunker just pass through the shopkeeper (this is not including the mantrap, as that just tries to eat the shopkeeper….which does not work, disturbingly, as the shopkeeper breaks free from the mantrap, killing it.) This probably occurs though because the tiki man is wielding a ranged weapon, and almost exclusively, only the Spelunker wields ranged weapons. The tiki man is the sole outlier, aside from anubis.

It is advisable to be obsessively careful when moving through the black market. Walk, rather than sprint, so as to minimize the chances of a tiki man, or some other monster, catching you off guard. Restrain your reflexes to lash your whip out at a monster that attacks you while in their shop, as you may strike the shopkeeper and enrage the whole level full of them. If you are wrestling with a monster inside of a shop, deal with them by jump attacking. If it is a fire frog, the most disastrous monster to defeat inside of a shop, hastily pick up the fire frog and throw him cleanly outside of the shop, so the fire frog detonates out of the bounds of the shop.

Otherwise lure monsters out of the shops, so you can fight them unhindered. Traps, often, will be placed in key positions at the edges of shops. If there is an alternative route to take, opt for it. If there is, be both quick and careful when getting around the trap. Throw a bomb, and only a paste bomb, when the detonation radius is not going to affect the shop.

The ankh’s artifact shop is always located at the back of the level, the elevation equivalent to the third down. You can only get inside of the shop from the first or second elevation though, as there is no door leading to it behind the prize wheel shop. A ladder will lead down. This gives you only two paths to choose from, and multiple areas that can be a problem for your Spelunker to get past.

The first elevation of shops can have monsters inside it, and usually there are monsters on the jungle terrain to the right of that elevation. This can be simple as a frog, but even so, the cramped environment coupled with the presence of shopkeepers makes this precarious. Tiki men can be, and often, standing and patrolling in positions that give them view to vital locations for your Spelunker to pass through. Because of how quick the tiki man tosses his boomerang, the direction the tiki man is facing may force you to backtrack and take the other route, so that you can approach the tiki man from behind.

While in the black market, and needing the items there so badly, you might be sourly tempted to gamble away at the prize wheel. You can come out ahead with the prize wheel, even earn some items from behind the wall. Rarely there can even be a jetpack. But the issue with the prize wheel is the time it takes. You can very easily take so long that the ghost will spawn, and then you will be hard pressed to get down and scurry your way to the exit without getting instant killed by the ghost. If you take a chance at the prize wheel, try not to do more than five turns. It’s also more ideal to try to win a small amount, such as to be able to afford a few extra bombs.

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