Spelunky Guide - Gameplay and Mechanics

From Spelunker abilities to special NPCs like damsels, the information is found here.


Aside from running, the main way your Spelunker gets around obstacles is jumping, generally from platform to platform, sometimes entirely circumventing traps. Precision is key, or else you may fall prey to the given trap with deceptive ease. Falling damage is a thing to avoid as well, which occurs when your Spelunker falls too far – precisely eight or more tiles. Your spelunker will be stunned briefly – though it will not feel brief – and thus will be prey for further dangers, such as whatever would be lurking at the impact site. Often not the damage will be the danger, but the status effect of your Spelunker being stunned is, as you have no way of preventing further harm from your Spelunker until it is over. Your Spelunker can even be stunned in a chain, rendering your Spelunker utterly defenseless until he or she perishes, unless your Spelunker serendipitously escapes danger by happenstance. Additionally, whatever momentum your Spelunker has while she or he is stunned is not nullified but continues, which is partly what can attribute to your Spelunker’s demise – being flung into a hazard, be it monster or trap.

The further your Spelunker falls, the more damage is incurred. In the eight tile range, it will only be one heart of damage. About eighteen tiles will take two hearts of damage, and then a fall of a whopping twenty-eight tiles will cause ten damage, which is rare to not be fatal. The chances of you finding such a height are little.

A way to help avoid falling damage is to press down, crawl, and move onto the edge of a platform, lowering your Spelunker just enough that the distance to fall will be a tile less. You can also, as you fall, grab onto a ledge, avoiding falling damage in that way as well. This happens to be an important way your Spelunker gets around, by grabbing onto ledges and pulling himself or herself up. Often the Spelunker cannot ascend a tile without grabbing onto a ledge, if the height is vertical enough, sans the use of a rope.

With jumping you can harm enemies as well, so long as you land atop them, which is not an uncommon gameplay mechanic, especially for indie games. This is the only way you can harm enemies with your Spelunker’s actual body, sans any kind of tool or chain reaction. Jumping onto an enemy will deal one damage to them, while if you basically land on top of an enemy from about eight tiles of height will deal additional damage. This also has the benefit of preventing your Spelunker from incurring falling damage, since the monster is instead taking the damage really. Performing this feat is more difficult however, because monsters typically move back and forth in some way and the potential area of impact may not be on screen for being too far below. Though, some enemies will not take damage from jump attacks, but these are seen later in the game and are more obvious.


There is then sprinting which propels your character swiftly, quick enough to be able to skip across tiles that are only single in gap. Sometimes your Spelunker can even speed past a monster, instead of having to find a way to defeat it and possibly risking damage. Jumping while sprinting also grants a greater height in jumps and a farther reach with them as well. It can be more difficult to control at first, because of the increased speed, but combining sprinting with your general movements and jump gives you heightened precision and ability with your Spelunker, allowing you to reach higher places you otherwise could not; except possibly with a rope. So chances are you will find yourself using sprint frequently.

A more advanced technique can be used if you combine both sprinting and jumping at the same time. Sprint forward, then jump onto a monster as you would normally to defeat it. Since your Spelunker is sprinting during that jump attack, he or she will then be propelled much farther and faster than could be achieved by any normal jump. Usually when you jump attack onto a monster, your Spelunker only bounces a tile high. You can angle this sprint fueled super jump where you like. For monsters that have leaping mechanics themselves, this technique can be used to reach even higher places. It does take some skill and experience to angle it within its full potential where you need to go. And though this does have use in reaching both higher and farther places, the most vertically effective tool is the rope.


The tutorial then moves onto your whip, or your action key. When you are not holding any items, and you press your action key, your Spelunker will strike out with a coiled brown whip. It has a short range, deals one damage, but is quick and retains an infinite number of uses. The whip can hurt just about any enemy in the game, even mini-bosses and bosses, except a few that must be dealt with in another way.

To go into more detail, the whip has a minor charge up before it lashes out in front of your Spelunker, but when you initially see the whip curl behind your Spelunker, there is actually a small range in which that curl of whip can hurt objects and enemies. Generally this has little practical use however, except to strike monsters and objects slightly above and behind your Spelunker, so you must learn the timing of the whip to avoid unnecessary damage from a monster touching you or similar. Because of the charge up of the whip, or just because of the game’s inherent mechanics, you cannot sprint forward as you strike out at a monster with your whip without also incurring damage yourself. Yes, you most likely will damage the monster, but because the monster will still be there momentarily as you are moving forward, you will also incur damage from touching it.


There are two basic consumable items, one of which is ropes. When executed a rope will extend into the air above you, while consuming one of your reserves of that item – the value of which is seen on the unfurled scroll extending from your heart of health at the upper right of the game window. Even before the rope fully falls down and straightens, your Spelunker can jump onto the rope and climb it, or else hang from it. Ropes are a vital resource being as they allow your Spelunker to reach higher places that even a sprint fueled jump cannot. If your Spelunker gets trapped in a hole with high walls, it is unlikely your Spelunker can sprint far enough to gain the necessary momentum to reach high enough with a jump, forcing you to use a rope in that situation as well, or else blast your way out with a bomb. Because of the way each level is generated, it is not uncommon for there to be no way to back track to a higher and earlier portion of the level unless you use a rope. You may wish to do so in order to gain access to a chest you had not seen before, a merchant shop you presently have enough gold for, or to avoid the path that is forced upon you, possibly because it contains a number of monsters or traps.

Ropes can also be used offensively and defensively. Traps can be avoided with a higher degree of safety sometimes if your Spelunker scales a rope and then jumps from that distance. Falling damage as well can be avoided, by grabbing into a rope midair, whether deployed already or not; though this is a similar device to grabbing onto a ledge, there is not always a ledge in range to grab, so you potentially have more control over this as it is more per your specification. A rope could also be used to climb up, and then jump down onto a monster, and then climb up again to avoid further monsters, only to repeat the process, letting you incur less risk in exchange for consuming a rope. During the entire level you are on, the rope you placed will not disappear, as it has no limited duration for its existence, so you can always rely on that rope being there, but considering how quickly you have to speed through each level, this does not see as much use as it could otherwise.


Bombs are your Spelunker’s other consumable item, except it is throwable with a similar arc and weight to that of lighter objects like pebbles. The bomb is the third out of the four ways in which your Spelunker can attack. Your Spelunker starts with four, just the same as the ropes, and coincidentally your Spelunker’s heart health. When used, your Spelunker will throw the bomb forward in an arc and will roll to a stop, begin to flash red at an increasing pace. Once the bomb begins to emit white smoke, the bomb will shortly explode, destroying tiles in a radius, usually about two tiles in all directions but diagonally, which diagonally would only be one. Aside from the smoke, the faster the bomb is flashing, the sooner it is going to detonate. If you happen to place or toss the bomb at the incorrect spot, there is a small window to grab the bomb and place it once more.

Be warned that upon exploding the bomb will deal an often fatal damage of ten, if the Spelunker is within the blast radius. The explosion, as well, can also send objects flying, becoming shrapnel that can harm and stun the Spelunker. For example, a pebble could be lying on the ground, and either be within or near the blast radius. Upon the explosion, it will go flying like shrapnel and if it manages to strike the Spelunker, the Spelunker will be stunned. This could be enough to knock the Spelunker over a ledge, which if the fall is far enough, could hurt the Spelunker further. A chain of events could ensue, like a skeleton lying in wait or a trap being triggered, all while the Spelunker is stunned, from a mere pebble that struck the Spelunker all from his or her own bomb. So, suffice to say, shrapnel is something to be cautious of. The explosion of the bomb is not the only way in which the bomb can deal damage – aside from the shrapnel effect - as the bomb behaves like a pebble as mentioned and will deal a damage of one to objects or monsters it hits with sufficient force and momentum.

Bombs are the primary way in which the Spelunker can destroy terrain, permitting access to enclosed areas that cannot be reached without destroying terrain, or providing Spelunker-made routes and shortcuts to platforms below or chambers forward. There is gems and gold buried within the terrain of every level that can only be broken free by destroying the terrain, making the use of a bomb very tempting. Although, because of how much damage a bomb does, they are exceptionally effective against monsters, particularly mini-bosses. The Spelunker could also make use of a bomb to destroy a series of traps entirely, rather than risk damage and death by maneuvering around them.

To alter the speed and arc of the bomb, you can press up and throw the bomb to give it a farther reaching arc; otherwise you can press down and your Spelunker will place the bomb at their feet, giving you absolute precision as to where the bomb is placed but forcing you to move your Spelunker to the position and then hastily get away. A thrown bomb has the tendency to bounce off a wall if it is carrying enough momentum with it, so this makes out rightly placing a bomb down useful. Placing a bomb down, if your Spelunker is close enough to the edge of a ledge, will cause the bomb to tumble below, giving you a way to toss a bomb directly downwards.

At a glance, bombs might be considered overpowered, but their cumbersome nature coupled with their limited supply is more than enough of a drawback to render them not – this is not even mentioning how frail the Spelunker is. So long as a bomb detonates upon a mini-boss, or a boss, it deals tremendous damage, except there is difficulty in the radius of the blast reaching the boss. The bomb might fling overhead the mini boss or boss, bounce off of it, dealing a pitiful one damage and harmlessly destroying some terrain you had no intention of even looking at.

And yet with sufficient practice and persistence a bomb can be exploded at any point along its trajectory and in any of the variable ways it can be thrown. This can be achieved by placing the bomb down at the Spelunker’s feet, and then picking the bomb up. The fuse will be burning away this entire time, and the bomb will be flashing in quicker succession. By timing when the bomb is about to blow up - and obviously deciding where you wish the bomb to explode - you can toss the bomb and it will explode mid-air, rather than bounce ineffectively off the wall or the like. This method, while it takes time to prime, can be much more effective and rewarding than the typical usage of bombs, allowing the Spelunker to defeat mini bosses with more accuracy and less ammunition consumption. Aside from sufficient practice and persistence though, it takes patience, every single time, and with the fast pace of the game, this can be a difficult thing to adjust to and cling to.


  • Journal entry: Bring helpless damsels to the exit and you’ll be rewarded with a kiss!

Damsels are randomly spawning NPCs that appear in nearly any level, and nearly any zone. More often than not, a damsel will have spawned in the given level, but it is possible for them not to. Damsels, like the stereotype, are to be rescued traditionally, in which the Spelunker picks up the Damsel and carries them to the end of that level. During the score screen, (which tallies how much gold you accrued and how many, as well as what kinds, of monsters you defeated from that level) your Spelunker will run across the corridor and a Damsel will kiss him or her on the cheek along the way, giving the Spelunker another heart of health. This is one of the very few ways a Spelunker can restore health, or gain additional health, and is the most accessible way to do so. Considering your Spelunker starts with only four hearts of health, and how very easy it is for the Spelunker to incur damage, this makes the rescuing of damsels very important.

Damsels can be found nearly anywhere in the level, even in a single open space of air surrounded entirely by dirt, resulting in a very difficult time getting to them without hurting them. Like most entities in Spelunky, the damsels are capable of being hurt by anything that normally can hurt, including actions by the Spelunker himself or herself. They possess only a total of three hearts of health. If they’re hurt, it doesn’t matter, just so long as they survive to be brought through the door.

You do not have to literally carry them all the way through the door if you want, as the damsel, once put down or even thrown, will struggle and then rise, to run around slowly and aimlessly. Before that, the damsel will be entirely stationary, but once the Spelunker picks them up and puts them down, they’ll start to move around aimlessly on their own. If the door exit of the level is in their path, they will enter inside, which will count as if your Spelunker brought them through and earn you a kiss to grant a heart of health. They do not immediately move once put down, because every time your Spelunker picks them up, they pass out with the cartoonish birds flying around their head. So, they behave as if stunned during that.

Because of their aimless, helpless running, damsels can frequently kill themselves by running off a ledge, falling too far, or triggering a trap of some kind, that which typically one shots the Spelunker himself or herself. Damsels cannot scale tiles though, they can only fall down tiles if there is nothing blocking their way, so if they are in a hole of some kind, you can leave them there and return later to retrieve them.

It is made easier to find a damsel because of their cry for help that they sound out continually when your Spelunker is in close enough range. This range does not have to be on screen.

Altars of Kali

There are altars that randomly can spawn throughout the levels and zones in Spelunky. It is a black and gray slab covered over with blood, supported by bones, with a statue of a six armed woman with her eyes closed and her tongue hanging out. Her arms are laden with items, such as a sword, a bowl, a voodoo head, and so forth. Her clothing seems ritualistic, with skull-like rocks fashioned as a necklace, and gaping skulls ringing her waist with hanging dismembered arms. The description does sound gruesome, but when you encounter the statue, it is not to such a severe degree.

The purpose of the altar is to sacrifice entities upon it, as suggested by the smeared over scarlet blood, leaking over as if freshly spilled. There are certain monsters you encounter in the game that can be knocked out much like the damsel, and be carried over to the altar, to be placed upon. Once you have done this, the entity will disappear and a message will appear at the bottom of the game window, saying ‘Kali is pleased with you’; assuming you did not damage an altar previously, earning her wrath. Initially, this is useless, until you accrue enough favor with Kali, as she will then grant you a key item or accessory upon the sacrifice – and one your Spelunker does not already have. The more sacrifices you make – the greater the favor you earn with Kali – the greater the rewards she will give you.

The value of the sacrifice is oriented around how much blood the body has, which his related to whether or not the sacrifice is still alive. You can sacrifice dead entities – that remain once they are defeated – but they will not grant as much favor. Damsels are indeed included in the possible entities to be sacrificed, and are among the most valuable entities to sacrifice to the altar. It is possible to inadvertently sacrifice your own Spelunker, if he or she falls upon it stunned, which results in the game ending, though Kali will still give you favor despite that it does not matter anymore.

When your Spelunker accrues about eight favor worth, Kali will grant your Spelunker one out of eight accessories: Climbing Gloves, Pitcher’s Mitt, Spring Shoes, Spike Shoes, Cape, Spectacles, Bomb Paste, and Compass. If you somehow manage to have all of those items, she will instead give you a Jet Pack, one of the more useful items in the game. When your Spelunker accrues about sixteen favor worth, the message will change to ‘Kali seems happy with you!’ and give your Spelunker the Kapala. At about thirty two favor, the message will change to ‘Kali seems ecstatic with you!’. Then, between thirty two favor and forty eight favor, your Spelunker will ‘feel invigorated’ and spontaneously gain eight hearts of health.

You can sacrifice some other items to the altar, such as the golden idol, which will spawn a golden, friendly monkey that poops treasure… and a mystery box will spawn an eggplant, which causes the music of the level to change to something strange.

The presence of the altar can be hazardous in a stage, as it is deceptively easy to damage it. You can accidently set off a bomb near it, damaging the altar, which will result in Kali’s wrath and several spawns spawning above it, scattering around quickly. Anything that you remotely set off, or perhaps occurs in the stage, will curse you with Kali’s wrath, even if you had nothing to do it with and the level just spawned in such a way for something to blow up or damage Kali’s altar. It does not even have to be on screen to do this unfortunately. Perhaps Kali holds you responsible with the safe keeping of her altar. Who else, really, would be able to? Certainly not the damsel.

If your Spelunker acts further to receive Kali’s rage, by damaging two altars, an iron ball and chain will lock onto the Spelunker’s leg. This iron ball and chain is nearly indestructible, except in a few circumstances. It serves to slow the Spelunker’s movement speed drastically, and prevent the Spelunker from being able to swim, climb, or use the function of the jetpack as the iron ball will not lift from the ground. To actually be able to do those things, and not die a slow, boring death, the Spelunker has to pick up the iron ball, carrying it just like he or she would any item. The issue with that is that, in order to remain functional, the Spelunker cannot carry anything else, which remains incredibly debilitating.

It has some limited uses though, oriented around rooting the Spelunker to a single spot if falling. It can also be thrown. It would have the reach of a heavy item, but the iron ball is limited in distance by the length of the chain locked to the Spelunker’s ankle.

It can be destroyed by dropping it into lava, crushed by a trap, but at the start of the next level, it will appear on the Spelunker’s ankle again.

Destroying three altars of Kali’s will result in the ultimate form of revenge from the goddess – the ghost. It will immediately spawn and pursue the player, and continue to spawn at the beginning of every single level thereafter, including boss levels that normally are sanctioned from the ghost.


  • Journal entry: A golden statue guarded by deadly traps. Bring it to the exit for a big reward!

Idols are another randomly spawning entity, which are always set up with a trap. They seem to be about as frequent as the kali’s altars are. They are distinguishable by their large, skull-like appearance, while also comprising of a precious metal or gem. The appearance of the idol, usually golden, and the type of trap that accompanies them, is different depending on the current zone, which will be explained in the details of each zone.

When you pick up the golden idol, the trap will be triggered, and you will have to run away in time. You can then carry the idol to a shopkeeper shop, or to the exit door of that level. If the idol touches the exit door, your Spelunker will immediately earn several thousand gold. In the Mines, it is five thousand gold; in the Jungle, it is ten thousand gold; in the Ice Caves, it is fifteen thousand gold; and finally in the Temple it is twenty thousand gold. If you bring the golden idol to a shopkeeper, you will have to set down the idol onto the shop’s floor, which he will then ‘take it off your hands’ and pay you the equivalent amount you would earn at the exit door.

Shopkeepers and Shops

  • Journal entry: This ornery merchant will sell anything for the right price. He hates shoplifters!

Shopkeepers, which are typically accompanied by a shop dug into the terrain, are yet another entity that can randomly spawn in a level out of the main four zones. The NPC is a dark brown browed man, with a balding head, gray hair and a gray beard, and a brown outfit. The shopkeepers stand behind a cashier, watching over their stock of items with a concealed firearm. The Spelunker is able to pursue the store, and purchase from their goods provided the Spelunker has enough gold, just so long as the Spelunker does nothing aggressive. The Spelunker can pick up any of the four (max) possible items in the shop, and the shopkeeper will walk out from behind his cashier and appear to watch the Spelunker closely. The Spelunker can freely place the item back down with no repercussions, but if the Spelunker passes over the threshold of the shop, this will be considered a transgression or an aggressive act.

Making any attempt to cause harm to the shopkeeper or his store will cause the shopkeeper to go berserk, including stealing as aforementioned. He will start blasting his firearm, the shotgun, lashing out four hearts of health a hit, as he rushes back and forth, jumping in arcs. Being touched by the shopkeeper will stun the Spelunker, and so if the initial blast of the shotgun did not kill the Spelunker, or was miraculously dodged, the next one will, or the next one will after that.

It is difficult to defeat a shopkeeper because of how swift he reacts and the weapon he carries, along with that potential to stun the Spelunker. Even if you manage to kill the shopkeeper and loot his store full of goods, there will then be another shopkeeper patrolling the exit door of that level, and every single one after that. That means a fight with a very aggressive, very swift old man with a shotgun. Any other store that spawns in your game will have an aggressive shopkeeper as well, rendering gold just about useless for that play through. If you can best a merchant every time though, then you can loot their store without cobbling together the scraps of gold for the items you want or need. Often times, however, this will just quickly result in the death of the Spelunker. It is essentially a death sentence if the Spelunker has angered a shopkeeper and walks into the black market secret level, as that level is filled with several shopkeepers.

Though the shopkeeper can stun the Spelunker, the Spelunker can also stun the shopkeeper, such as with a boomerang commonly found in the Jungle zone. When stunned, the shopkeeper will drop his shotgun, and begin to shake as he is warding off the effect. The shopkeeper recovers from the stun much quicker than the Spelunker does, and the damsel does for that matter, giving the Spelunker precious few moments to snatch the shotgun and blast the shopkeeper.

The shopkeeper will not go down by a single shotgun blast, and will take one to two more to defeat, as he possesses a staggering ten hearts of health. In general, ranged methods are more effective at defeating the shopkeeper, like tossing a bomb in and the blast radius is fortunate enough to hit the shopkeeper. There is another specialized method that is effective at dealing with a shopkeeper, which is the use of a mattock. Striking the shopkeeper with the mattock will stun him, and striking him again while he is stunned on the ground, will result in the stun effect being reapplied and restarted. The Spelunker can continue to strike the shopkeeper until he is defeated, and then the shop is free to be looted. This can even be done with a mattock that the shopkeeper is selling in his shop. The Spelunker can pick it up, and the shopkeeper will emerge out of his cashier suspicious, but not aggressive yet. Despite technically wielding a dangerous weapon on the same tile as the shopkeeper, this doesn’t make him attack pre-emptively.

On top of the presence of a shopkeeper and his store having only a chance to generate in a level (except the first and last of every zone), the type of store is randomized as well. A sign hangs above the door of the shop, showing what kind it is with a specific symbol per. There can be a general store type, a bomb store type, a weapon store type, a clothing store type, a specialty item store type, a mercenary store type, and a prize wheel store type. There are a couple other stores as well that are not categorized like those: the kissing booth, distinguishable by the red lighted lantern hanging at the doorway, and an artifact type of store only found in the Black Market.

The general store type, that has a sign of a satchel at the doorway, typically carries consumable items, like brown, large satchels of three bombs or coiled heaps of three ropes, or green boxes of twelve bombs or twelve ropes, or parachutes which are a one time use. Otherwise, you will find common items there like the climbing gloves and the compass.

The weapon store type, with the pistol symbol at its entrance, carries more than firearms. It can have melee weapons like a machete, and bombs as well. Sometimes damage related accessory items, like the spike boots. You can see items like the web gun, the shot gun, the freeze ray, the boomerang, and the mattock here.

The clothing store type, distinguishable by the symbol of a short sleeved shirt above the doorway, carries nearly anything clothing or apparel related, which are typically accessory items that your Spelunker does not carry. This can be the spring shoes, the climbing gloves, the catcher’s mitt, the spectacles and even ropes, as those are made of a similar material.

The bomb store type, with the wooden carved symbol of a tossed bomb, carries items specific to bombs, which – aside from bomb bags and bomb boxes – is also bomb paste. Coincidentally, this includes mystery boxes; and whatever is in the mystery box does not have to be a bomb – your Spelunker, amongst the spewed wrapping paper, could find a shotgun for nearly half of what a shotgun normally costs.

The specialty store type, with the carved symbol of a magnifying glass overhead, carries more advanced and expensive items that have a more profound effect upon your play through. You can find items like the teleporter, the cape, the jetpack, the camera, the spike shoes, the freeze ray, and the large green boxes of bombs here. Generally, this store type has the largest pool of potential items.

The mercenary store type has a square-ish chiseled fist at its doorway, and carries a lone item, or rather one hired hand at the cost of ten thousand gold. This muscled hired hand might look like an unlockable character that you only pay ten thousand gold to unlock, but he is not. If you purchase this hired hand, he will follow your Spelunker around at a hurried pace around the stage, acting as a friendly AI. He will attack enemies and collect treasure for your Spelunker, but he tends to be clumsy in his haste and none too keen in terms of smarts, making him damage prone. He has a whip just like the Spelunker, the same jump attack, and the ability to throw things, as he will tend to pick up pebbles and whatever is lying around. He can actually pick up items, making him the only possible way to carry multiple items through the exit door of the level.

The prize wheel store type, noticed by the carved out wheel sign at the doorway, has a multicolored wheel with skulls and money symbols on each segment, along with a gift box on one segment. One of those golden money symbols is larger, offering a higher pay out. Your Spelunker pays two thousand and five hundred gold to give the wheel a spin, and depending on where the red dial lands on, your Spelunker wins five thousand gold, ten thousand gold, losses entirely, or else wins the prize that is located behind the door. The shopkeeper is perched above the closet shaped enclosure where the prize is, behind his cashier. If the red dial falls upon the gift box segment, the door will slide up and your Spelunker will be free to walk over and automatically pick up the item, without any violent reprisal from the shopkeeper. After the item is won, and you pay the shopkeeper to spin the wheel again, another item will respawn, provided your Spelunker walks off screen.

The kissing booth, marked by the red glow of the lantern and the sign of a woman’s lips, is a similar shop to the hired hand shop, except this shop is selling the affections of the damsel. By paying the hefty sum of ten thousand gold, the Spelunker earns a kiss on the cheek, granting a single heart of health. This is expensive, but the Spelunker can purchase as many kisses as he can afford. The damsel within the shop is whatever you set your game to via the options, despite what this shop represents.

When this type of shop spawns in a level, the damsel is nowhere else to be found except within this shop. It is possible to pick up the damsel, but the shopkeeper will become enraged after pulling out his gun and following you slowly until your Spelunker reaches the threshold of his shop. The Spelunker can also whip the damsel, hurting him or her, but the shopkeeper will also become enraged, with a humorously creepy message of, ‘Only I can do that!’.

The final store type, the artifact, has a presence made more obvious than by a mere symbol carved sign. This kind of shop is found only in the Black Market, located on the second level below set into an alcove into the ground, off to the side. There is only one item sold here, the Ankh artifact, at a fixed price of fifty thousand gold. And though it can only be found in the Black Market, it is guaranteed to spawn there and in that precise location every time.


The shopkeepers can also be encountered in a different place other than at their shop, which is within a vault. A vault is a randomly generated small structure, set moderately deep into the terrain surrounded entirely by gray stone. This structure is commonly accompanied by another shop elsewhere in the level. Within the vault, there is a shopkeeper pacing back and forth, armed and ready with a shotgun. He protects a set of two treasure chests that can contain within a decent sum of gold.

The primary way in order to get inside the vault is to breach its stone walls with a bomb. Usually because of how deep the vault is set into the terrain, this takes at least two bombs. When the stone walls are breached, the shopkeeper will shout ‘Terrorist’ across the screen and proceed to go berserk, as is usual for a shopkeeper in his actual shop. Because the shopkeepers inside the vaults are in such an enclosed area, they typically bounce around, unable to get out so long as the hole piercing the vault is not broad.

So long as your Spelunker breached the vault at an upwards incline, you can more simply defeat this enraged shopkeeper by tossing a bomb in, which will explode in the two tiled broad and three tiled high space, most likely killing the shopkeeper and breaking open the treasure chests. If you do this though, your Spelunker will be marked as wanted throughout the rest of that play through, and your Spelunker will no longer be able to purchase items from the shopkeepers, making the earned gold worthless except for your play through’s score. And since there is commonly a shop spawned on the same level with the vault, that will be two near proximity shopkeepers enraged, along with one that will be patrolling the exit of the level.

You could also utilize the teleporter to telefrag the shopkeeper simply, but chances are higher than your Spelunker will teleport himself into the surrounding rock terrain, resulting in a game over by your Spelunker’s own death. A boulder, set off from a golden idol trap, can smash through the vault and crush the shopkeeper, but this method is dependent upon the golden idol spawning, being within the Mines, and the necessary trajectory for the rolling boulder to be met.

The consequence of your Spelunker becoming wanted, unable to make purchases, and the ensuing hazards from the shopkeepers, render the gold and chance at items from these treasure chests not worthwhile, unless your Spelunker is already wanted in that play through, you desire the points towards your score, or you otherwise intend to challenge yourself by defeating the shopkeepers you come across. It can be very rewarding, but comes with a substantial risk.

Throwable Items

Anything that is throwable behaves in a similar fashion as bombs do, in that you can pick them up, throw them at different speeds and arcs. If a thrown item bounces off something, and strikes your Spelunker, this will stun and harm the Spelunker. Do not sprint, jump, throw, and reverse direction, as this will cause the pebble to actually fling backwards if done quickly enough, striking the Spelunker as if he or she threw it behind himself, in the direction he was heading.

Throwable items are commonly found throughout the levels. The types the Spelunker encounters changes depending on the zone, but the most pervasive and consistent one is the grey pebble. Following that are pots, the grey and cracked ceramics which shatter upon hitting anything, and have a chance at containing a small amount of gold in the form of a smaller nugget, a moderate amount of gold in the form of a larger nugget, a random monster, most kinds of gemstones, or just nothing. Because of the presence of a monster potentially inside the pot, if the Spelunker breaks the pot with a whip instead of throwing it, a distance should be maintained so that the monster does not automatically hurt the Spelunker from coming into physical contact.

There are also small, wandering creatures in the majority of levels in Spelunky, such as the small grey rats that skitter around in the Mines. They speed up frantically when the Spelunker approaches, but can be picked up regardless. They do not harm the Spelunker, and the Spelunker cannot harm them with either whip or jump. They can be thrown just like any other throwable item, but do not harm any monster because the small creature passes through their model rather than colliding with it. The small creatures do have a utility though, and a more vital one. If the Spelunker is holding a small creature, it can absorb damage that the Spelunker would otherwise take when triggering a trap, such as the arrow trap, thus becoming a carriable shield. Although once they absorb the damage, they will perish, and the Spelunker will have to find another. This is one way to deal with the presence of an arrow trap, other than destroying it or triggering it with a different tossed item.

Most items that the Spelunker can carry are also throwable, such as the golden idol. There are two different weight classes for items – low weight and high weight. The lower weight objects can be thrown farther and higher, whereas the higher weight objects are the opposite. The higher weight objects do not seem to carry any additional damage when thrown though. Pots, pebbles, small creatures, bombs, and even damsels are considered low weight, whereas items like the golden idol and general weapons are considered high weight.


As mentioned, to be able to purchase goods from shopkeepers your Spelunker needs accumulated treasure, located just below the Spelunker’s heart of health and consumable items, along with any accessory items the Spelunker possesses. This treasure is accrued from gold and gemstones discovered throughout the levels, that can be gathered in a number of ways. Out in the open gold can be found lying as gold bars, as just one bar valuing five hundred or a stack of three like a small pyramid valuing one thousand and five hundred. Gemstones can be found lying around as well. The value of gemstones differ from gold though, as gold’s value is more easily recognizable by the form and size of the gold, as gold can also be discovered in the form of nuggets, from tiny to large. The values for small gold nuggets begin at a hundred each, and large gold nuggets at five hundred.

Bars of gold are not found in the terrain, but instead the golden nuggets are. Depending on how congested a dirt terrain tile is with gold determines how much gold will come out if it is broken, either from a bomb or a mattock. Gemstones can also be discovered in the dirt terrain, but cannot be seen like the gold nuggets can be; although, the Spelunker without the spectacles accessory item or the Udjat Eye cannot see some hidden deposits of gold. With those items, gemstones and those additional deposits of gold are revealed.

Gemstones come in four types: emeralds, sapphires, rubies, and diamonds. The base value of tiny emeralds is two hundred, and the base value of large emeralds is eight hundred; tiny sapphires are at three hundred, and large sapphires are at one thousand and two hundred; small rubies are four hundred, and large rubies are one thousand and six hundred; and finally diamonds start their value at five thousand. Similarly, the golden crown and the golden idol are worth five thousand.

Those are the values of treasure that begin in the Mines. In each consecutive level, the value of that treasure rises, but so do the prices in the shops, which is somewhat a downside to using the Tunnel Man shortcuts.

Treasure can also be discovered in treasure chests, like those that you would see with pirates in a disney movie. There is a variable of three to four large and small gemstones, but never diamonds. These can also be found in the vault as mentioned but if found anywhere else on the level, they are not as valuable. A treasure chest can be trapped with a bomb, but there is no way to be able to see that a chest is trapped or not before opening it. A chest is opened just by striking it, and if a bomb pops out, there are only at most a couple gemstones with it. The time it takes for the chest’s bomb to go off is much shorter than the Spelunker’s bomb, so it is important that whenever a treasure chest is opened that you are ready to get away.

There is another, special type of treasure chest that can only spawn in one of the levels of the mines after the first level. A golden chest, in that rather than iron surrounding the wood, it is gold. It cannot be opened in the same way a normal treasure chest can be, and instead it can only be opened with a golden key that spawns somewhere else in that level. They can be relatively close to each other in the level, but regularly are not. Within that chest is the Udjat Eye.

There are also crates that can be found in the levels, but do not contain any direct treasure like the chests do. These wooden boxes are broken open in the same way, except they can contain a few bombs, a few ropes, or a rare random item. The more expensive and more useful items like the shotgun are rarer than an item like the climbing gloves would be. For whatever reason it is possible to find an item your Spelunker already has in a crate.


  • Journal entry: This frightening apparition haunts the caves. Where did it come from?

Diamonds cannot be found normally as rubies or nuggets can. They require a special condition in order to be gotten, which is a primary driving mechanic in Spelunky for the Spelunker to choose their time wisely throughout each level and improve their skills as a player so as to be as efficient as possible, unless potential treasure is to be wrenched from the Spelunker’s hands by the inability to explore further. This mechanic is the ghost that perpetually haunts nearly the whole game of Spelunky, aside from the two final boss levels.

This ghost, as large as two tiles and as wide as much, will appear on the level after two minutes and thirty seconds has elapsed, beyond the edge of the level’s wall that is closest to the Spelunker at that given time. A fog settles on the level, and the music becomes distorted with the ghost’s arrival. This ghost, being an incorporeal entity, passes through anything and everything, but the Spelunker technically. When the ghost touches the Spelunker, no matter the Spelunker’s health, the Spelunker will instantly die. The ghost does move slowly however, so it is possible to keep ahead of the ghost, lead it around, continually dodging it, but this is highly risky. The reward to doing so, aside from remaining in a stage longer, is that any gem the ghost passes through transforms into a diamond, which is worth substantially more than whatever gem it used to be.

There is no way to possibly harm the ghost but indirectly, and that is level dependent. The ghost takes harm from lava, and from UFO shots, but the ghost possesses nearly ten thousand health, turning that pursuit to be so costly that failure is far, far more likely than success, and is more commendable as an achievement in the game as a whole to defeat the ghost.

Aside from keeping ahead of the ghost, there is another way to manage its presence, which is by the camera. By taking a shot with the camera, the ghost will freeze, making a comical pose with large, red lips like a cartoon, and then continue on. This provides a very small delay in its pursuit, which might be enough for the Spelunker to get around it, as it is very easy to become trapped in the terrain with the ghost covering any possible avenues of exit, aside from blasting your way out – an act which takes time to do as a bomb does not explode instantly and the mattock is directionally challenged as to where it can destroy terrain.

Passing through the exit door of the level is the only way to be free of the ghost, and the timer will begin to tick down again once your Spelunker is on the next level. So, while the ghost is an inevitable occurrence on a level if the Spelunker lingers long enough, the ghost can be entirely avoided if you speed along quick enough through the levels.


Your game, or your Spelunker, has the possession of the red covered and well worn journal left behind by the missing Spelunker Yang. This journal acts like an encyclopedia about your Spelunker’s discoveries in the ever changing caverns, recording information about the places your Spelunker finds, and the monsters encountered within, along with traps dealt with along the way and items collected. In more meta style, the journal also records how many deaths you have had in the game, and how many kills of each time of monster you have achieved. When you see that red covered journal in the lower right of your game screen shaking after you have died, that is the journal tallying yet another stupid death. And when the journal records a new entry of a monster, item, trap, or place, it will appear and show what key you need to press to access it. By default with the keyboard it is the tab key.

The statistics for your entire and ongoing gameplay can be interesting (or potentially depressing). You could consider filling up your journal as an achievement marker. Otherwise it can be useful showing you what every monster and item looks like along with a succinct description.


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