Spelunky Guide - Multiplayer Adventure

The majority of this guide has been written for play throughs with only one Spelunker, also known as single player. The game Spelunky actually has the option for up to three additional players to join you in adventure mode. Together with your friends, you can venture into the ever shifting caverns of Spelunky.


The challenge and mechanics of the game change in some ways with the addition of more players. You will quickly notice that one of the Spelunkers, and only one, has protruding from their back a large white flag, as if for surrender. This white flag signifies that this Spelunker is the focal point of the game window’s camera. There is no split screen with multiple Spelunker players, and the screen neither widens when two Spelunkers go far apart from one another.

Instead the camera just follows that one Spelunker with the flag, behaving just like adventure mode with just one Spelunker. If another Spelunker – one without the white flag – moves off screen, then an appropriately colored icon will appear of that character, showing approximately where they are. If that Spelunker stays too long ‘off screen’, a countdown will initiate from ten. If the number is allowed to hit zero, that Spelunker will die.

When one of those Spelunkers without the white flag goes off screen, and all that is shown of them is their colored Spelunker icon, that player becomes blind to the environment of where their Spelunker is. Moving their Spelunker around shows little difference, and so essentially, that player becomes blind. This also has the effect of being disorienting. If you are susceptible to motion sickness, and your Spelunker is not in control of the camera, it can bother you a little.

Because of these issues, you and your fellow players will strive to coordinate within the boundaries of that camera, struggling to not blind another Spelunker by them accidentally moving off screen. This is counterintuitive to the fast paced nature of Spelunky.

With multiple Spelunkers, there is no concern with accidentally harming one another with the whip or jump attacks. You cannot jump attack onto another Spelunker, much like how the Spelunker cannot jump attack onto a damsel. The two models overlap one another, as if they are not touching. If your Spelunker whips another Spelunker, they will not be harmed, but they will fall down, stunned. This can be unwieldy and difficult to manage, straining a higher level of coordination amongst you and your fellow players.

You are a danger to one another.


At least you cannot harm each other, right? Actually, that’s absolutely not the case. Throwable objects in a multiplayer adventure mode become the bane of one another. Any player caught in the path of a throw object will be hurt, just as if they had thrown it themselves and accidently got caught somehow in its path. This makes each toss of an object come with calculation and caution. Bombs, obviously, can harm one another. There are some boons to having multiple players in one adventure session though, aside from being able to enjoy the game simultaneously with your friends. When a game is started, each Spelunker has four hearts of health no matter how many players there are. Although the amount of resources is split between all the players. This means that the original four of each resource, bombs and ropes, is split between the players. With two players, each Spelunker has two bombs and two ropes each.


There is also a similar function to picking up a damsel in multiplayer adventure. Your Spelunker can pick up another Spelunker. At first, the Spelunker that is being carried will not be stunned unlike the damsel. Your Spelunker can then throw that Spelunker just like a damsel. Since the soaring Spelunker is stunned at that point, they will be unable to grab onto ledges or manipulate in any way where and how they land. The thrown Spelunker’s body will be carrying strong momentum, just like a damsel would be, and despite that you might get that thrown Spelunker up onto a free floating platform, they might just slide right off and fall nearly back at where they started. After a few moments of being stationary – the Spelunker that was thrown – the stun effect will be shaken off.

Utilizing the ability to throw another Spelunker, together you can reach heights and places that you could not otherwise, not without bombing an adjacent area, tossing up a rope, or just having a jetpack to fly. To make use of it effectively, there is some luck involved, with practice and angle contributing the most to the equation. Jumping just before throwing your fellow Spelunker can give a vertical increase to the thrown Spelunker’s landing.


Getting back to the original point - with multiple players having so much health it increases your play through’s overall survivability. There is something more of greater benefit to your play through’s survivability though. If one of the Spelunkers dies, and another remains alive, then your game will not end. Instead, any items that Spelunker possessed, be it accessory items or resources, will drop into a large satchel, colored according to that specific character.


A ghost of that Spelunker will then rise up, in vague likeness to their corporeal body and hued just like their character already was. Whatever living Spelunker or Spelunkers remain are free to pick up that satchel and take those items inside. Likely whatever killed that Spelunker is still around though, so some care should be taken to not fall to the same fate they did.

This ghost is a controllable character by the Spelunker player who died. As is the nature of being a phantom in Spelunky, their ghost can pass through any and all solid objects and tiles aside from the impenetrable grey walls that surround every single level (aside from the bottom of the ice caverns, which is an illimitable abyss). The ability to pass through anything also includes the Spelunkers, and unlike the giant ghost that appears after two minutes and thirty seconds has passed in a level, the Spelunker ghost passes through harmlessly. There is not even any transference of momentum.

The way this ghost moves is a lot like guiding around a boat, carrying a curving and gliding momentum with it, making precision movements something to be achieved with effort, skill, and experience.. The ghost is equally slow to start and stop, as the ghost’s acceleration is initially sluggish to ramp up and then suddenly builds greatly. What is the point of being a ghost, other than a sour reminder that your Spelunker died and also a point of ridicule from your friends? The Spelunker ghost has a singular action that can interact with the physical world. This action is initiated by the whip bound key. The Spelunker ghost blows a stream of wispy air that can push objects and entities, and additionally trigger traps. This whistling of air does not harm monsters or humanoids, but it will actually push them. This ability makes the Spelunker ghost incredibly helpful to the living Spelunkers in the play through, and because of the issues that exist between two living Spelunkers; the Spelunker ghost could actually be more beneficial to a play through.

However, due to the Spelunker ghost’s unwieldy gliding movement, and lesser so the ability to move in all four cardinal directions independent of any ground, makes the whistle of air action difficult to aim with consistent accuracy. And because of this issue with consistent accuracy, it can bloat each level with additional time taken just to make proper use of the Spelunker ghost.

The choice is yours whether or not your friend, or you, remains as a Spelunker ghost. It is not that giving up on that play through is necessary, it is actually that a shaking wooden coffin will appear somewhere on the level after you or your friend’s Spelunker perished. Inside that wooden coffin is that corresponding Spelunker’s living body.


By breaking it open, the Spelunker ghost will zoom into the Spelunker’s living body, and become a normal playable Spelunker again. This renewed Spelunker will have the starting health of four, but will have zero resources in the form of bombs and ropes. Any accessory items that were picked up at their death are not transferable either.

In multiplayer adventure mode, even with just one other Spelunker with your Spelunker, there are certainly more strategies and mechanics under your direct control to make use of when progressing through a play through. Due to the one and only final death gameplay mechanic in Spelunky, every time you start a play through, you will always have exactly what you did the first time you first played the game. It does not matter if you have won the game ten times, start to finish, your Spelunker will always be the same. The same four hearts of health, the same four bombs and ropes. The only difference would be the cosmetic choice of your Spelunker, from the initial four, to the entire cast of sixteen – and the shortcuts leading to each unique zone.

Rather than the same old four bombs, four ropes, and four hearts of health for every new play through, with another Spelunker by your side, you have some gambits in your repertoire. You can enact a few strategies with your partner Spelunker, or partners.

Strategy A: Protect the flag!

The Spelunker with the white flag that controls the camera is the guide and explorer. The beflaged Spelunker carefully moves about the level, passively seeking out treasure and diligently avoiding combat unless it is not conducive to the safety of the whole party of Spelunkers. This beflaged Spelunker becomes the coordinator and leader, directing the other Spelunkers as to what treasure to go after and what monsters to attack. Some of this does not need to be verbal though, as it can be obvious what monsters are of any kind of threat. Since the beflaged Spelunker is staying back behind the other Spelunkers, this guiding Spelunker should not be using throwing weapons or items except for extenuating circumstances, just like any kind of combat. This eases the strain of accidently harming each other with thrown items.

The other, unflaged Spelunker or Spelunkers keeps ahead of the beflaged Spelunker as much as possible while staying in range. This Spelunker acts like a guard of the beflaged Spelunker, attacking monsters that are in the way and venturing into dangerous places to gather treasure. Generally this type of Spelunker is to be aggressive, risking damage more to himself or herself than that of the beflaged Spelunker. Because of this, the guard Spelunker may occasionally die. With multiple Spelunkers in this strategy, the beflaged Spelunker will rarely be without a guard. However, with multiple guard Spelunkers, the stressful issues with thrown items and inadvertent stuns with whip attacks resurfaces. The more Spelunkers there are, specifically in this instance the guard Spelunkers, the more difficult it is to effectively coordinate. Spelunky just is not a turn based game.

If the guard Spelunker does happen to die, the beflaged Spelunker is able to pick up what the guard Spelunker dropped, and continue on to the next level, to resurrect the guard Spelunker from his or her coffin. From there, the strategy resumes. This can create an ebb and flowing pattern, where the guard Spelunker continually dies, all in the goal to protect the beflaged Spelunker, and therefore the entire continuance of the play through. It is still possible for the beflaged Spelunker to die, but the occurrence of this is far less than the normal.

This entire strategy takes patience, because of the planning involved as to where to go and the coordination exerted between all the player Spelunkers. However, it has the boon of trying to survive as long as possible for a play through, always keeping all the accrued accessory items on one Spelunker until that Spelunker dies, where then the accessory items move onto another Spelunker.

If the beflaged Spelunker does perish, the flag will migrate to another Spelunker. If the player whom becomes the beflaged Spelunker is either uncomfortable with that role, or is inexperienced, you could always switch controllers with your friend – or whatever method of input that Spelunker is using. If it is of no concern, then the beflaged Spelunker will be in flux as the beflaged Spelunker dies; but due to this type of strategy, this happens less than death would come to the guard Spelunkers.

The deficiency of this strategy lies in the issues with multiplayer in general; while this strategy does diminish the problems with hurting each other with thrown items and stun effects from whips, the guard Spelunkers will generally lack resources of bombs and ropes, and any accessory items. This makes your ‘warrior’ weaker, and can somewhat uselessly place those boons onto your beflaged Spelunker, whom is avoiding combat as much as possible. But if you’re in the play through for the long haul, such as all the way through hell, then this can be effective. It certainly diminishes the ‘yet another stupid death’ moments when you accidently impale your Spelunker on a clump of spikes when you misjudge the distance to pass over for a ledge. Your fellow Spelunker can just pick up your items, continue onto the next level, and bring you back. Assuming they do not get themselves killed in that small window. There is not any strategy that can deal with that, aside from having more Spelunkers.

Strategy B: Casper the friendly ghost.

It does not matter which Spelunker starts with the white flag in this strategy, as it can be entirely up to you and your fellow Spelunkers’ choosing as to who ends up with it for the majority of the play through. One Spelunker is designated as the living Spelunker, whom if there is only a total of two Spelunkers in the play through, will automatically be the flag carrier even if the instance of the game does not start that way. The other Spelunker then either purposefully gets killed, or just waits until it happens.

This ghost Spelunker lingers around, while the Spelunker with the flag speeds along like he or she would in a single player adventure mode. When there are traps to trigger, the ghost triggers them, and in general just looks after the living Spelunker, or Spelunkers. This certainly is not that active of a role, but it does have the benefit of lessening the strain of party cohesion. The ghost is pushed along when the camera moves past where the ghost is, or would be, and so the ghost spelunker does not have to strain to keep up. The greatest benefit to a dedicated ghost Spelunker is making use of ghost running. The ghost Spelunker is able to push back the ghost – whom appears after two minutes and thirty seconds has elapsed on a level. There is a delay in between these pushes, but it’s enough to keep the ghost at bay, more than the camera does, and requires no input from the living Spelunker to keep the ghost at bay. To increase the potential of this technique, the living Spelunker could be carrying a camera as well. All of this combined would greatly enhance the rewards of ghost running, with far less luck and skill to achieve a high yield.

The ghost Spelunker has certainly a more leisurely role in this situation. If someone is feeling lazy, then they might as well try it out.

In terms of overall advantages, then strategy B falls below the others, even the facetious ones. There is really only so much a ghost can do, versus a living Spelunker, who could at least be a human shield…

Strategy C: Unus pro omnibus, omnes pro uno (latin) - one for all, all for one.

Strategy C: One for all, all for one is like a less formal and rigid Strategy A: Protect the Flag. Whoever happens to have the flag, happens to have the flag. Your Spelunkers rush out, scrambling in varied directions to pick up the treasure scattered around the level, taking on monsters one by one, usually with each Spelunker by themselves. Endeavor to take different ways to get to the same area, so that the Spelunkers minimize the chances of striking each other with whips and hitting each other with thrown rocks. The result will be a somewhat cobbled together swift run of a level, gathering up the available treasure like a zerg rush. If someone dies it is not of much concern. Just keep going, while making sure to pick up that fallen Spelunker’s loot bag before pressing forward. In the next level, just resurrect them. The key to this is to take a fluid dynamic stance to each level, and to not stress too much if someone dies or gets injured. You can leave people behind sometimes if they have no resources, and the gap between the flag carrier and them is large enough to be a hassle.

You might lose a few times, but at least there is not so much of a headache anymore about the camera keeping everyone in view. Sure, the flag carrier will have to pause every now and then, to help some Spelunkers from getting left behind unnecessarily.

This strategy C is more effective with three or more Spelunkers, as it is more suited to those kinds of high numbers of Spelunker players.

'Strategy' D: Every man for themselves!

The flaws and restrictions in multiplayer can feel strangling after long enough. The issues can even put a dour mood among your friends. So, this strategy emphases a lack of care in what happens. Every person is for themselves, like a melee with just one window. The adventure mode becomes more about competition than survival, as truthfully this strategy just is not conducive to winning the game in the traditional, official way.

Every Spelunker player is literally out for themselves. Whichever Spelunker player starts out with the flag has the supreme advantage, but then they become a target, because everybody wants that position of controlling the camera and being able to purchase goods from shops. It is really everybody’s choice as to how aggressive and malicious you are to each other. You and your friends might ‘agree’ to certain terms prior to starting the game, but it can become a slippery slope all too quickly. And those certain terms could include: no picking each other up and throwing, or no picking each other up and throwing the Spelunker onto spikes; no throwing objects intently at each other, or no throwing bombs at one another with the intended purpose of blasting apart that Spelunker.

The whole point of this strategy is to not have restrictions anymore. If someone gets left behind, well too bad for them, they lost. If the camera speeds out of view of your Spelunker, and your Spelunker stumbles around blind, some mysterious source of damage pricking away at his or her health, well too bad as well. But there is a stark difference between blazing across the level in a frenzy, and literally being out to get each other. You could easily kill each other by stunning with the whip, throwing, and any combination. The Spelunker with the flag is like the king of the hill here really.


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