Spelunky Guide – Hell

The very last secret zone to the game Spelunky, Hell. You will need to learn what lurks within this malevolent zone, and how to deal with them, or else a hapless death might find your Spelunker!


  • Journal entry: The underworld. Sheol. Hades. One thing’s for certain: It’s HOT down here!

Hell is the secret zone located beyond the temple, and the only place more challenging to get to than the city of gold. Entering - and clearing all of hell - can be considered truly beating the game.

To gain access to hell, you will need the book of the dead, found only in the city of gold. This means you must jump through all the hoops needed for entering the city of gold as well, which is a large reason why hell is more difficult to get to than the city of gold. The entrance to hell is located in Olmec’s lair, hidden beneath the tiles of the floor.

The book of the dead will help you seek out the entrance, and from there you can destroy the flooring as you would normally to defeat Olmec. The difference is that the door that leads to hell has no shelf on it like all doors do anywhere else in Spelunky. This means that it is necessary for you to stand on Olmec’s head to be able to enter inside the door, or else your Spelunker will just fall into the lava and die… And with all that you accomplished to get there, that would be a death to greatly lament.

So just stand on Olmec’s head as he is sinking into the lava, and quickly enter inside of the door to hell. The style of the door is like the doors in the temple. Expect to see it near the surface of the lava, so low that you can only enter when just the crown of Olmec’s golden head is visible.

The corridor your Spelunker marches through changes midway. The pale grey bricks of the temple shift into a bloody red. When your Spelunker emerges, the message, ‘A horrible feeling of nausea comes over you!’ scrolls across the screen. This is technically a random level event, but this is not randomized in hell. In the first level vlad’s tower is always there, and so this message is conveying that to you.

Instead of the plain, smooth grey rock encasing the whole four walls of the level, this is instead replaced by endless, seamless piles of skulls and bones, exacerbating the macabre style of the secret zone of hell. The zone of hell is a hodgepodge of the attributes of the previous, standard zones in Spelunky, with menacing additions and twists. The terrain is morphed to be a near ceaseless hue of deep, blood red, comprising of the temple’s brick tiles and the mine’s dirt terrain. The white and grey of the bone piles surrounding the entire level are in sharp contrast to this. There are motes that ascend driftingly throughout the area, signifying the sweltering temperature of hell as they accompany the rippling waves of heat.

The glittering of gold buried in the terrain stands out, but offers little to your Spelunker at this stage in the game. Silvery, gigantic chains hang from the ceiling, with broken links at the bottom, complementing the presence of eternally swinging spiked balls tethered to chains. Those hanging, broken links of chain are climbable just like vines. And perhaps a bit distracting, the book of the dead will unceasingly twitch and writhe, just as it did when your Spelunker was close to the entrance to hell.

Spikes of many sorts are plentiful, stressing the vital importance of either a cape or a jetpack. If you somehow have neither so far into the game, then there are a copious amount of vampires in hell whom will drop a cape one hundred percent of the time. A common complication is that those capes will fall onto the prevalent rows of spikes. The spikes are either those from the previous zones, clusters of protrusions, or rigid, narrow and straight metal like nails.

There are great gaps in the terrain of hell; abruptly ending and starting like a more laterally formed ice caves. It is far more common than not for the two types of spikes to be spread in a line, coating the complete upper surface of a floating platform.

As mentioned, Vlad’s tower always appears in the first level of hell. Usually this dungeon-like structure is wedged against one side of the level. Its makeup is fairly similar to the haunted castle, except it is far narrower, with a layer of nail shaped spikes spread across the bottom. The pushable, stone blocks permit entrance at the bottom of the tower. Do not mistake them for traps, as they have maliciously grinning skulls.

Somewhere inside that tower is Vlad, whom will drop to you his special cape, which has an additional ability over that of the normal vampire cape – a double jump. Granted, this double jump – executable midair after a previously executed jump – does not scale as much vertical distance as the normal jump does. Vlad’s cape does have a downfall though, in that you cannot furl and unfurl the cape infinitely as by your whim midair. You must land again, to be able to use it again. This can be problematic.

The prize in vlad’s tower is more vlad’s amulet, hidden in one of the tiles of his tower. It must be blasted open to claim this special amulet.


There is hardly any reoccurrence of monsters from previous zones in the secret zone of hell. Bats do have a presence here, but are uncommon. Instead, there is a whole new slew of formidably advanced enemies; one of which hides as a friendly character. The magma man, out of all the zones in Spelunky, spawns most commonly here in hell; as there are many pools of lava and an enemy that can spawn magma men if it is triggered like a trap.

  • Imp: One (1) HP
    • Journal entry: A lowly servant of the underworld. Its job is to refill the lava pits.

The scarlet skinned imp is as weak as a monster as there is in the secret zone of hell, sans the purple bat. The imp has a pair of tiny horns, prominent bat styled wings, white iris-less eyes, and outstretched arms holding onto a bucket filled to the brim with lava.

The imp flaps its wings as it patrols back and forth within its confined area, clutching its grey bucket. If your Spelunker passes beneath the imp, the imp will release its bucket and it will drop to the ground, unleashing a magma man. After that, no longer heaving around a bucket of magma man suffused lava, the imp will chase after the Spelunker in the same way that the normal bat does.

The imp is of low priority in terms of hazard to your Spelunker. Generally, there are more dangerous things in any given area than the imp, so you should not need to avoid the imp. Instead, you can very easily take out an imp by jumping up or reaching their vertical height and striking them down with a whip. If there is clearance above the imp, then it is just as simple to jump attack onto it.

Though the imp is not that dangerous, do not disregard its presence. You can little afford to make a mistake in hell. Mistakes can happen, but you want to minimize their effect on the tail end of your play through as much as possible – ergo make as little mistakes as possible, while giving yourself some breathing room in case they do happen.

If you defeat an imp before he drops his bucket, then the bucket will fall to the ground. If that distance is less than three tiles, then the bucket will not spill and will be a carriable item. The imp is considered an undead monster, so you can kill it with the camera. If you have the kapala, the imp does release blood droplets as well – a little uncharacteristic for anything categorized as undead.

  • Devil: Three (3) HP
    • Journal entry: Blue devils that escort lost souls to King Yama’s courtroom.

Devils are not a special monster like a boss, and fortunately stand out amongst the pervasive deep reds of hell. A devil is blue skinned, with tusks that protrude from its grinning mouth, while its head is crowned with large horns. Its eyes are wide, as if on the brink of a rampage. A devil’s size is equivalent to that of a caveman, and its quantity of health is just the same – three.

The devil monster is in direct contrast to the imp, whom is scarlet and has a special attack if your Spelunker passes beneath the imp. The devil monster instead, if you pass above it, jumps up through the air as high as four tiles. If the devil monster manages to come into contact with your Spelunker, he will stab your Spelunker with the spikes on his head. Needless to say, if you jump attack onto a devil, this will hurt your Spelunker for one heart of health.

If a devil monster notices your Spelunker in front of it, horizontally, then it will become aggressive just like caveman type monsters usually do. He will lower his head, and charge, trying to ram its spikes into your Spelunker a lot like a rhino. If he misses you, and rams into a tile, that tile will be destroyed as if you broke it with a mattock. Despite the uniqueness of the devil monster’s charge, there is little practical use in hell because of how often the terrain just cuts off. The devil monsters do sound as if they will be a hassle, but they spawn in limited amounts. Furthermore, since the devil monsters are grounded, incapable of scaling heights, and generally behave the way cavemen do in Spelunky, they are prone to self harm. Tiki traps, spikes, and lava are all the bane of the devil monsters. Lead a devil off the edge of a platform, and more often than not you’ve defeated him without having to attack him yourself. You might commonly find one lying dead anyway.

  • Succubus: One (1) HP
    • Journal entry: A mistress of Vlad. She seduces men and women alike in the service of her master.

If you have ever distrusted a damsel, or doubted the integrity of their need for help (how do they even get into those one tile holes, surrounded entirely by dirt anyway?), the succubus sure gives you a reason for it. The succubus is an uncommonly spawning monster that disguises herself as a damsel. She can mimic the appearance of any of the three damsels that exist in the game. Whatever you have your game’s damsel model set to, she will appear as. Appearance wise, there’s no discerning between a true damsel and the succubus in disguise.

You have to seriously question why a damsel is in hell anyway. If it’s so hard for your Spelunker to get into without dying (you know, being ‘damned to hell’), then how did a damsel get in? It really stretches the logic of the situation, but that starts to get into an existential argument that is irrelevant.

The existence of the succubus colors your perception of every damsel you come across. You must treat each and every damsel as a potential succubus. Though the model the succubus takes on is identical to that of a true damsel, there is a slight difference in behavior – aside from when the succubus unveils herself. The succubus disguised as a damsel tends to cry out for help more often than a real damsel does. Discerning this can be difficult and unreliable though, especially with the dangers of hell threatening your Spelunker.

So, either you take a risk and approach a damsel, or ignore them completely to shut down the possibility of any harm entirely. Your Spelunker is essentially losing one heart of health every time you refrain from rescuing a genuine damsel though. At the same time, just because there is a succubus, does not mean there is going to be a damsel elsewhere in the level. This can frequently occur, but it is not guaranteed to.

The succubus will only reveal herself (unless you kill her) when your Spelunker approaches her. She will lunge at your Spelunker, revealing herself to be a pale, red eyed demonic woman, and cling to him or her just like the monkeys do in the jungle. When she leaps off your Spelunker, he or she will lose one heart of health.

There is a sound effect that happens when she appears, and actually continues until she is defeated. If you can react quick enough – which considering you have made it to hell, you should have that skill in your repertoire – unfurl a rope and the succubus will be killed from the damage that occurs when a rope ascends; since the rope originates from your Spelunker, she is thus in range for that damage. Of course this will consume one of your ropes, but at this stage in the game, it is well worth the expenditure. Besides, you likely have a jetpack, a cape, and/or the climbing gloves; all of which diminish the integral necessity of ropes.

If you do have a camera though, you can take a shot of the damsel. If the damsel is a succubus, then she will die, as all undead do from the camera’s flash. Also unlike damsels, succubi leave no bodies behind after death. The succubus will just crumble into ashes.

  • Vlad: Ten (10) HP
    • Journal entry: The dark prince of vampires. His tower stands guard at the entrance to hell.

For seeming as important as vlad the vampire is, in terms of strength and speed he is not too different than the typical vampire. His appearance is very different though. He has a wrinkled forehead, with a bun of bright white hair, red bead-like eyes, and long fangs. His ears are thin and long, and his garb is a caped red suit. Though there is a copious amount of red in hell, inside vlad’s tower, he is more easily discernible.

Vlad harms for a mere one damage, perhaps he is not as strong as other mini bosses because of how difficult it is to get to hell – and all the other dangers there besides. His health is as high as ten though, and chances are, he shares the same special ability vampires do – in that if he comes across droplets of blood, he can recover health. He is a vampire after all.

You will tend to find vlad towards the top of his tower, nearby the amulet buried in the tower’s stone. If you defeat vlad, he will drop his cape. He is easily dispatched with a bomb, imbued with bomb paste. That or a shotgun. If you have neither, then hopefully you have some room to maneuver, as vlad is both quick and capable of flight. He will fall down stunned if you harm him, but he shakes off the effect quickly.


Oh don’t you just wish you would never, EVER have to see a tiki trap again? Yeah? Well, too bad. They return in disgruntling frequency. They will find all those tight corners, even sometimes spawn directly adjacent to the exits of hell, two on either side. If they have any benefit, it is that they often kill the denizens of hell; sheltering your Spelunker from the additional hazard those monsters would pose.

Spikes. There are a lot of spikes in hell. Whole rows of them. Better not land on one, always make sure your Spelunker’s foot is flush with the ground before touching a spike, or else the game will count this as ‘falling face first, awaiting your death with open arms’. The slowing glide from a cape prevents your Spelunker from being impaled as usual, but a jetpack will not prevent this.

  • Spike Ball
    • Journal entry: A deadly ball and chain that swings with infernal determination.

Spike balls are prominent traps in hell, only outnumbered by spikes. The trap consists of a cast iron ball riddled with conical white spikes, attached to a chain as long as five links. This chain is tethered to a black block, perforated in the center where the chain is housed. This block is pushable, like those found elsewhere in the game. The spike ball continually swings in an orbiting pattern around this tethered block. It takes about three seconds for a full rotation, so the swinging of the spike ball is not so fast that you cannot realistically cross the gap in its pattern, but it is quick enough that it can catch your Spelunker easily.

Nothing impedes the orbiting swing of the spike ball, as any tiles that are visibly in its way will just be passed over, as if they are in the foreground. Objects caught in the spike ball’s path will be destroyed, and damsels will be harmed.

If your Spelunker is unlucky enough to get struck by the spike ball, while it is attached to the tethering block, then your Spelunker will lose four hearts of health. The chain that the spike ball is attached to though poses no harm to anything, including your Spelunker.

There is little to do about the spike balls other than rushing past them when there is a gap in their orbiting rotation for your Spelunker. This is a traditional environmental hazard, hailing from the super mario games. If you sincerely doubt your ability to get past a particular spike ball, you do have another recourse. Usually this complication occurs when there are tiki traps located within the spike ball’s orbiting range. Your recourse is that you can destroy the tethering block, which will cause the spike ball to go flying, carrying all the collective momentum it built up.

Absolutely stay out of the path of this free rolling spike ball, as coming into contact with it will one shot your Spelunker, just as if a boulder rolled over your Spelunker. The spike ball does act like a smaller boulder, and shouldn’t roll as far. There aren’t cohesive tiers like there are in the mines though, and so the rolling spike ball ends up falling down in elevation quickly.

Boss Level

The final level of Spelunky is the boss level of hell, king yama’s throne. Your Spelunker’s walks out of a door of hell right in the bottom center of the stage. There is a thin layer of stone tiles separating your Spelunker from a level wide pool of lava. This level is far taller than it is wide however. Along the periphery of the level, on either side of the tower and throne with a few tiles of open space in between, are free floating ledges of dirt tiles. Broken chain links are interspersed in that area, providing climbable paths. Spikes are present on some of those free floating ledges, eking out yet another hazard to this whole boss fight.

  • Horse Head: Ten (10) HP and Ox Face: Ten (10) HP
    • Journal entry (horse head): King Yama’s right-hand man. He has the head of a horse.

**Journal entry (ox face): King Yama’s left-hand man. He has the face of an ox.

King Yama being the final boss of the game, the fight would not be complete without henchmen-like mini bosses to accompany him. When your Spelunker walks into the level, horse head and ox face will spawn on opposing sides of the level on the bottom floor. If you do not move from where you initially appear, they will both be halfway across your screen on opposing sides.

Horse head is a two tile high, two tile wide, yellow furred and heavily muscular man, with eponymously a head of a horse. He crouches as he clutches an iron trident. Ox face is a purple-like blue muscular, crouching man, with eponymously the head of an ox. Ox face clutches a strident as well, of the same exact kind. Most of the difference, aside from their bright colors, is the curled horns on ox face’s head. The danger is not in their trident, but in the bombs they unleash. These bombs deal as much damage as the Spelunker’s does. So pretty much if you get caught by one, its game over. The great hazard these two henchmen of king yama pose is collateral damage. There is only a thin layer of tiles on the bottom floor, separating your Spelunker from the level wide pool of lava. Just a single bomb will break through the floor, making a gap to the lava.

Haste is a must for these two mini bosses, so as to minimize as much collateral damage they cause. When you defeat one, he will drop a bomb box – this contains twelve bombs, which are vital in defeating king yama. However, if you defeat one of these mini bosses with a bomb, then the bomb box will fall below into the lava, since your Spelunker’s bomb will have destroyed the flooring. The most ideal way to dispatch them swiftly is with a shotgun. Two blasts should kill them, as the shotgun releases six pellets – each dealing one damage.

If you do come into physical contact with ox face or horse head, they will harm your Spelunker for two hearts of health. If you can’t land a bomb on them, and don’t have a shotgun, you can try jump attacking them, if you have the spike shoes, as each jump attack of your Spelunker’s ups to three damage per stomp. If you can, pick up the bomb boxes they drop, before scaling up the structure to king yama.

King Yama

  • Journal entry: The ruler of hell! He punishes the damned from atop a bloody throne.

King Yama is the ruler of hell, and so would probably be considered a god by the game’s standards. He is a veritable giant, several tiles high and several tiles wide. You never see him stand to his full height though, as he resides on his throne for the entirety of the fight, all through the multiple phases.

You will not exactly see King Yama initially (aside from the panning cut scene), as his literal throne is located in the far upper area of the level. You should not approach him before defeating both his henchmen, horse head and ox face. After you have accomplished that, choose one side of the level and scale up the floating ledges. It is of a higher tactical advantage to choose the right side of the level, as there is a high above patch of stone tiles that will protect you from king yama’s attacks. This patch of stone tiles exists because there is a door there, that unlocks when you defeat king yama. On the left side there is nothing like that.

There is a several tile wide tower that king yama’s throne sits upon. Covering, from the very ground and to the very top, are tiki traps. These tiki traps line each side of the tower, preventing you from climbing up the tower with the climbing gloves, or else finding shelter beside it. Later, if you are trying to accrue mass amounts of treasure (and have the bombs to spare) each tile within that tower has a ruby inside it. In a ceaseless pattern, King Yama will slam his two fists down on the arms of his throne, just like you saw in the cut scene. This will knock free debris from the ceiling across the whole of the level. This debris is scattered, so if your Spelunker is exposed, he or she might not be harmed by it. You will be able to observe the pattern of where the debris falls though, so long as you find somewhere safe to hide. Your Spelunker is safe beneath that patch of stone tiles, or directly beneath any of the floating ledges – which usually have broken linked chains hanging from them.

Each of king yama’s giant fists is considered a separate object, or entity, and so they have independent quantities of health – totaling ten (10). If you can land a bomb on a fist, then you will defeat it. To stop the continual, periodic avalanche of debris, you will need to destroy both fists though, and considering you stick to one side of the level generally, this can be more difficult to achieve.

King Yama’s head is where you are able to damage him himself. You do not need to destroy his fists to defeat him. His head has a total of twenty (20) hit points. When you accumulate that much damage on his head, king yama will enter into the second and final phase of the boss battle. His head will start to fly, gliding back and forth across the top of the stage, spewing fireballs and randomly slamming against the ceiling, causing more debris to fall. He slams against the ceiling less commonly though.

He will continually spawn magma men when his head is free floating. Other monsters will spawn as well, like jiang shi and bats. Usually those trash monsters will stay around the lower area of the stage.

This level, just like Olmec’s lair, has no time limit like the rest of the game does. There will not be any ghost spawning, so remember, you can take as long as you need to. Do not be hasty because you feel like you only have so much time until it’s too late. In fact, I suggest that you periodically pause the game, think over what is happening in the boss battle, and decide the best course of action. While this fight is heavily dependent on quick thinking, having a general idea of what you are doing piece by piece helps you to tackle the whole fight better. Pausing the game periodically like that also helps to dissuade you from feeling overwhelmed. You have, after all, made it to hell, to the very last level. It takes a great deal of dedication and time to make it so far.

To defeat king yama, with any realistic hope, your Spelunker will need to be equipped with bomb paste, have at least five bombs but preferably more than ten, or else be armed with a shotgun. Each blast of the shotgun will, at best, do only six damage to king yama, but it is unlikely all six pellets will hit king yama’s head at a time. If you are going for the bomb strategy, it also helps to have the pitcher’s mitt, so that you can launch volleys of bombs from a safer distance.

Since there is a pattern to the falling debris, with windows of pause, your Spelunker should keep to around the upper right area of the level. Have the option of a few platforms and chains for different areas of safety, as sometimes your Spelunker will need to be one of those to dodge something, or hide after your Spelunker has leaped out to attack king yama. Get the pattern down of the debris falling, from king yama slamming his fists, and then leap out during the reprieve when there is not any debris falling. Lash out your attacks at king yama, either the bombs or your shotgun. Aim for the head, if you aren’t trying to deal with the fists first.

You have the option of either taking out the fists, or ignoring them. Depending on what you do, changes how the landscape of the fight goes. If you do decide to take out the fists, so you have to deal with less of the falling debris, then you should first go to one side, preferably the left to begin with. Bomb or shoot that fist in a reprieve between the falling debris, and then hurry downwards, passing below king yama’s throne and the hazards of the tower. By going down, you do not have to cross over king yama’s head, which would be very dangerous to your Spelunker since debris can fall there as well.

Once your Spelunker is on the right side, then you can destroy the right fist. With both fists destroyed, the frequency of the debris falling will lessen and king yama will automatically transform into the next stage. However, each fist has a massive total of twenty hit points per, totaling four bombs or an average of seven total shots from the shotgun, which would really be four shots per, if the pellets hit with one hundred percent accuracy.

Ignoring the fists, you can take out king yama’s head in half the time, shifting him into the second phase, and then move onto destroying his floating head. This is quicker, but the entire time you will have to deal with the frequent avalanches of skull. If your Spelunker gets struck by one of those falling skulls, or debris, he or she will stumble and collapse, stunned for a brief period. That brief period could mean death, but the danger in getting hit – aside from the one heart of damage it does – is falling. If you are flying around with the jetpack, or gliding with the cape, your Spelunker will plummet. If he does not happen to land on one of those floating platforms, the height of the fall might do so much that it could kill your Spelunker.

When you defeat king yama, the door to the upper right area of the level opens. Pick up any spoils you want, like blasting apart king yama’s tower to pilfer all the rubies. When you pass through that door, and only when you pass through that door, have you officially beaten the highest challenge of the game, and the game itself. You will unlock a new character, Yang, the Spelunker lost from all the way back in the tutorial, and then you will be rewarded with a hundred thousand treasure. And finally, your Spelunker will be free of the caves.


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