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Spelunky Guide – The Ice Caves

What you need to know about the third zone, the Ice Caves, in the game Spelunky is found here! Listed is strategies and information about the perils of this zone, the unique monsters that are home to this zone and more.

The Ice Caves

  • Journal entry: Icy rocks suspended over a bottomless abyss.

The Ice Caves are the third zone reached in Spelunky. The doors to this place are covered in a clear, light blue ice, with facets that shimmer darker and lighter hues. The Ice Caves feature snowed over terrain, the dirt turned to a frosty blue rock, and the spreading sheets of ice are a very pale blue. The whole of the terrain appears to be suspended midair, generating into brief platforms and rectangular rooms. Often there are just a few tiles clinging to the rock background, or even just a single block of ice. There are precarious, dark terrain shelves that fall away when the Spelunker has lingered too long on them. These shelves are distinguishable by their tapered bottom halves from the other terrain that is always in a square shape. The background to the ice caverns suggests an encapsulated ice age with an extraterrestrial presence. There is technically no bottom floor to the zone of the Ice Caves. Instead there is an endless abyss, making every leap and crossing a risk of sheer death to the Spelunker. When the Spelunker falls, he perishes, with the explanation of death on the menu screen speaking as if the Spelunker is, ‘Help, I’m still falling!’. Perhaps due to this endless abyss, the levels generated have a more pronounced width than the previous two zones, and neither are as deep.

The challenge to the ice caverns, aside from the monsters and traps, is navigating the disconnected and disjointed cavern by way of leaping, climbing, and generally not falling. The pale blue ice is slick, giving little traction to the Spelunker’s boots, in both initial speed and in slowing down. This makes it startlingly simple to fall off an edge of ice. Nevertheless, it remains possible to grab onto the edge of an ice block, to be able to climb up as normal.

It is important to descend the ice caves are at slower, more steady pace, both to reduce the risk of falling or sliding injury, and to attempt discovery of the exit door while being at a higher elevation. Descending too far in the ice caves runs the potential peril of becoming stranded. At the bottom level there is just nowhere to fall to anymore without resulting in death. It can be easy to miss that the alternate route to paths taken in the ice caverns is down when your Spelunker cannot make it across, or might only be able to by falling down at an angle. It’s possible even the far length of a rope is not enough to rescue your Spelunker from being stranded at the bottom terrain of the ice caverns.

Discovering the exit door at a higher elevation in the ice caverns should ensure that your Spelunker has the ability to successfully make it to the door.

And while treasure is present within the level, there is a smaller abundance of it and a greater difficulty in both finding it and acquiring it. Detonating a bomb to open up a vein of glittering gold in the terrain has a high chance of either destroying the platform the Spelunker is on, or demolishing enough of the terrain that the released gold has no terrain to fall onto and is then lost to the endless abyss.

Monsters

  • Yeti: Three (3) HP
    • Journal entry: A playful creature that unfortunately doesn’t know its own strength.

Idly wandering yeti are prevalent in the ice caverns. They are covered almost entirely in white fur, sans their hands, feet, and face. Their skin is also entirely blue. Yeti, while treacherous to approach, are not inherently aggressive as they do not pursue the Spelunker. At most they will just happen to look at the Spelunker. The associated drawback to this is if the Spelunker comes within near touching range of the yeti, the yeti will swing his arm and throw the Spelunker. The Spelunker will be flung, stunned, and since the terrain is brief and sparse, has a high chance of falling into the abyss. The propensity of the ice cavern zone’s levels to have a great deal of sliding exacerbates being flung. The other potential outcome is a loop being created, from the Spelunker bouncing back from a wall, and the yeti in place to continually throw the Spelunker each time; which, the Spelunker being defenseless, would result in death.

The yeti possesses an immunity to whip attack damage, making him difficult to manage in close quarters. A jump attack will work though, and so would any weapon. Since the yeti has three HP, he’ll fall down a total of two times stunned. Considering the plethora of yeti in the ice caves, and this multiple chances at a prolonged stun, make yetis valuable for sacrifice to Kali. Stunned, they are half the value of a live damsel, and dead half that aforementioned value.

Though they have a great value for sacrifice, the swiftness in which the Yeti can one shot the Spelunker as a result of a twitched throw warrants avoidance of the yeti. The caution would not be so severe, if the Spelunker was not stunned while thrown, rendering the Spelunker utterly helpless as he or she free falls.

  • UFO: One (1) HP and Alien: One (1) HP
    • Journal entry (UFO): A flying saucer powered by mysterious alien technology.

  • Journal entry (Alien): Invaders from space… what are they doing down here?

The UFOs are the grey, discs topped by a glass dome with a spherical green creature within that stares out with a lone, black pupil eye. These UFOs wobble as they gradually drift overhead, back and forth in the air in a similar patrolling pattern like snakes, in that their flight path is restricted by spacial obstacles – terrain. This has the result of their drifting path having the capability to be far, but the UFO’s drifting path also differs in that they can ascend upwards. This slanting upwards in the air is sporadic, but also can be spurred by their drifting path becoming blocked, which can cause UFOS to gradually wander farther into the level.

The danger in UFOs is two. If the Spelunker comes into contact with the UFO, like most monsters, he or she will be automatically harmed for a heart of one. The other is the UFOS primary attack. If the Spelunker passes beneath the UFO, even if there are a few tiles of terrain blocking the UFO’s view of the Spelunker, a green light will glow at the underside of the spacecraft and then shoot down, blasting as a green plasma laser. This plasma laser does a single heart of damage, but has traits analogous to the explosion of a bomb. Upon coming into contact with terrain, the plasma laser destroys that tile. More often than not, the plasma laser will just be blasting holes in the terrain, instead of in the Spelunker because of the sluggish pace of the descending plasma laser.

Jumping onto a UFO is a simple feat, if the UFO is not at a much greater elevation than the Spelunker. If it is, there is little point in pursuing the demise of the UFO, unless a rock can be thrown at it. Regardless, just be careful to not be near the crash trajectory of the spacecraft. When damage is dealt to the UFO, the spacecraft will typically stall and fall off in the opposite direction of the applied damaging force, then lightly ricochet off the terrain and sharply fall down. Upon impact the spacecraft will explode with the true force of a bomb, capable of in most cases out rightly one shoting the Spelunker.

There is a chance that the pilot of the spacecraft, the green and stubby alien, will eject and parachute to nearby terrain, safe from the explosion radius of the spacecraft’s impact. These tiny, amorphic aliens pose little threat to the Spelunker, though they can hop randomly. Unfortunately, you cannot pillage their parachute for yourself.

Be careful when striking UFOs out of the sky when kali’s altar is near, even if the UFO is not within a couple tiles proximity to the altar because of how the UFO falls out of the sky, spinning out laterally. If a UFO is too high, and needs to be dealt with, you can throw up a rope directly underneath the UFO and promptly sidestep. The thrown up rope, when it is expanding to its full length, will damage anything it comes into contact with vertically. That damage is enough to knock them out of the sky.

  • Mammoth: Ten (10) HP
    • Journal entry: This furry animal was thought to be extinct. Its breath is like a blizzard!

Mammoths are greyish white furred and tusked animals, technically a monster by the game’s standards, possibly even a mini boss. The mammoth is as wide as two tiles, while only a tile tall. It marches back and forth on whatever space it has limited by the platform it is on, blasting clinking ice from its trunk. Anything living, monster or humanoid, if struck by this ice breath will be encased in blue solid ice. Being frozen alive itself does not harm the Spelunker; it is if sufficient force touches the Spelunker’s block of ice. If that occurs, the block of ice and the Spelunker inside will shatter into many pieces, like breaking a mirror. This is instantaneous death to the Spelunker. This sufficient force could just be falling a couple tiles downwards, which would not be uncommon when trying to fight a mammoth.

Having a hardy hide, the mammoth is immune to the damage from jumping attacks, unless the Spelunker is equipped with the spike boots. Attacks from whips will damage it though.

The rate in which the mammoth expels its freezing breath is timed and periodic, resulting in a predictable pattern. Yet it is unnecessary to engage the mammoth from in front of it. Approach the mammoth from behind, strike the Spelunker’s whip into it a couple times, then jump on top of it and get behind it again. Keep doing this until the mammoth is defeated, which will take some patience. A bomb would one shot it, but might just destroy the platform the mammoth is on, as thin as terrain is in the ice caverns. If your Spelunker is armed with an item, of course that would be superior, but attack the mammoth mostly from behind.

Once the mammoth is defeated, it will drop a large sapphire. It also has a chance to drop a freeze ray, an item with the same effects as the mammoth’s ice breath.

Due to how the free floating terrain is generated in the ice caverns, it is not uncommon for the platform the mammoth is patrolling on to be just a couple tiles wide. Such a cramped area for the mammoth produces a very short, very quick path, so much so that the mammoth is essentially blasting off some ice, turning, blasting off some ice, turning, and so forth. If that occurs, it is best to go out of your way to avoid the mammoth, unless you have a strong item with you like the shotgun.

And as much as you might want to freeze the mammoth instead, in well suited revenge, it is immune to it. The value of the large sapphire in the ice caverns is one thousand and eight hundred.

Traps

The traps in the ice cavern are a lot less conspicuous than the arrow traps and tiki traps were. The spikes do maintain a presence in the ice caverns, but only appear beneath ice or stone shelves as a way of falling doom. Not a traditional trap, but the suspended shelves that fall under weight can harm monsters if they fall on top of them from their natural descent. This can kill something as large as a mammoth.

  • Mine
    • Journal entry: A proximity-triggered explosive device. Disarm it quickly!

Mines are dormant silver grey discs with a big, red button on top, signifying just what to do with them and what will happen. This mine is pressure sensitive. If anything walks over it, the mine will begin to beep and then explode, with the same destructive force and radius as the bomb. The length of time it takes to go off is shorter than the bomb’s fuse. It does not matter if the Spelunker remains on the mine, because as soon as there is that pressure on the mine, it will begin its denotation sequence.

These mines are found commonly in the ice caverns. They would hold a greater danger to the Spelunker, and the scarce terrain there is to the ice caverns, if there was not a way to disarm them. If the Spelunker picks up the mine like an item, the detonation sequence will cease. The Spelunker is then free to place or throw the mine wherever, where it can then be detonated in the same exact way it was initially. Since the mine can be set off by anything, a wandering yeti or a pacing mammoth are very susceptible to the mine and its destruction. The ability to disarm the mines as you deem makes them useful as a precise bomb that costs nothing to your Spelunker’s bomb resources; it just takes some risk handling them, as something can always go wrong. Always.

  • Spring
    • Journal entry: An alien contraption that’s used for transportation and entertainment.

Springs are metal, silvery grey devices that are difficult to see inactivated in the ice caverns due to the pervasive layer of snow. In levels when snow is continually falling, they become even more hidden. Yet it’s common to find a spring continually bouncing a yeti in an endless cycle. Springs, like mines, trigger when touched, bouncing the entity as many as five tiles high into the air with a green energy appearing in their aftermath. Obviously these springs are alien technology, just like the mines are.

Springs can be useful reaching great heights, and safely for the most part once you are accustomed to how they fling the Spelunker, but if you walk over a spring unknowingly, they can easily catapult your Spelunker to his or her death into the endless abyss, or even just throw your Spelunker into some other hazard. Items can be caught up in the perpetual bouncing of the spring as well, like bars of gold and pots. Easily retrievable, though avoid a pebble caught in the bouncing loop, as the pebble is being propelled at such a speed that it can harm the Spelunker. And this can spell death to the Spelunker, as it is likely to get caught into the bouncing cycle with the pebble, repeatedly struck with it until the Spelunker is dead.

It is better to avoid a yeti that is caught in the endless flinging cycle of the spring, as they are immune to whip damage and attempting to jump attack onto a yeti that is repeatedly ascending five tiles high is fruitless to the point of idiocy.

If you are able to notice a spring far below, it can be used to prevent your Spelunker from receiving falling damage, as it acts like a cushion.

Random Level Events

The random level events encountered in the previous two zones do not make a come back in the ice caverns, but there are a few unique ones that occur here.

It smells like wet fur in here!

When this message appears on the screen, the terrain generation of the ice caves is more narrow and guided a little like a maze, while there are also great amounts more of yeti in the level. Melting bridges of ice can be commonplace, along with their accompanying spikes, forming altogether a broad pit of spikes. There is also a mini boss that spawns, that comes with his own unique stage.

  • Yeti King: Ten (10) HP
    • Journal entry: The king of the yetis is whichever yeti is the biggest.

The Yeti King has a total of ten HP, hurts the Spelunker for two damage with physical contact and his special, primary attack does a single damage but also stuns the Spelunker. He is as tall as two tiles and wide as just as much. He has protruding fangs, his face like a walrus’.

The Yeti King marches across the ice platform he stands on, stomping one direction and then the other direction repeatedly. This ice platform is usually several, unobstructed tiles across, with spikes generated somewhere nearby, such as a pit of spikes overhead or below with the melting ice shelves. He belches out a cranky roar frequently. The force of it reverberates tremors and breaks terrain above and ahead of the yeti king, that then fall as spiky chunks of ice. Too close to the front of the yeti king when he roars will stun and toss the Spelunker, and too far ahead when he roars and the Spelunker will get hit by the falling ice. Each chunk of ice will damage a heart worth, but the Spelunker can easily get hit by multiple. The roar can affect tiles a couple higher than the elevation the yeti king is standing at.

His ability to roar, his immunity to jump attack damage (unless your Spelunker has the spike boots), and that he is also surrounded by a few yeti at a time makes him too dangerous to feasibly attack at close range. Furthermore, the yeti king pursues the Spelunker aggressively, marching and roaring in his direction, unlike his brethren the yeti. If the Spelunker darts around, it should be possible to attack at close range, but this carries too much risk for not enough reward, as it would take ten total whip strikes to defeat the yeti king.

Lob a bomb or two at the yeti king at a distance, preferably from behind the yeti king. The bomb will slide further because of the tractionless ice, but just one’s blast radius that catches the yeti king is enough. Upon defeat, the yeti king will drop a coil of rope, a pair of spike shoes, and a compass. All of these are valuable items, most especially of all in the ice caverns, as the compass will lead you to the exit door of the level, helping you to not become stranded, and the spike boots grant the Spelunker traction on ice. It is possible for the yeti king to be frozen, such as by an uncommonly spawning mammoth nearby the yeti king or by the freeze ray. He would shatter by just a whip crack, and nothing more.

I sense a psychic presence here…

This random level event can occur in any of the levels of the ice caverns except for the last. There is a giant crashed spacecraft around the middle of the level, usually off to the east and against the wall. The rest of the level generates fairly empty in terms of terrain, but the spacecraft reaches across the majority of the level, if not entirely. The monsters generated are changed. UFOs will be more numerous.

The spacecraft has a unique metallic tile for what it is encased, which will make the crashed spacecraft immediately noticeable. It has some automated defense systems that will attack the Spelunker when nearby, after climbing inside of the spacecraft. The focus to the crashed spacecraft is the mini boss, the Alien Lord.

  • Turrets: One (1) HP
    • Journal entry: It’s part of the standard spaceship defense system.

Turrets descend down from the ceiling of the crashed spacecraft, and will swivel its cannon towards the Spelunker when he or she comes into range. In regular intervals of a few seconds they’ll shoot a thin, rectangular green laser at the Spelunker. The turret has the requirement to be aimed at the Spelunker for a few seconds to begin with to shoot, meaning you can speed past them and not be harmed. However, if you linger too long in firing range of a turret, the turret will shoot and possibly catch you off guard. The speed of the laser is quick, a strong contrast to the UFO’s laser.

Throwing anything or doing any kind of damage to the turret is enough to dismantle it. The sphere of the turret will unattach from the ceiling when damaged, and bounce onto the floor. From there, it cannot do anything, but if the Spelunker picks it up, it becomes like an impromptu ranged weapon. Wherever the cannon of the turret happens to be directed at, the turret will periodically shoot at every few seconds just like it did when on the ceiling. Despite carrying it though, the Spelunker has no control over when it fires.

And unlike the UFO’s laser, the turret’s laser does not destroy terrain tiles. It does harm any entity, whether it’s an alien or the Spelunker, and will continue on in its path through bodies until it meets something solid like terrain. A force field will deflect the laser however.

When you do destroy a turret, it will erupt in an explosion, so avoid attacking the turret directly, such as with a whip attack.

  • Force field
    • Journal entry: A powerful laser barrier that can even deflect plasma blasts.

The force field is located at the back end of the crashed spaceship, just behind two projecting and raised tiles of the spacecraft structure from the ceiling and the floor. The neon purple, zigzagging rays of the force field are projected from the square shaped, black metal device on the ground. There are three of these, all in a row, in the spacecraft.

The force field activates periodically in a similar way to the turret, except the force field’s continual pattern of activation and recharging is not dependent on the Spelunker’s close proximity. If you have the misfortune of getting caught in the three deep rows of force fields then your Spelunker will be harmed for a heart of one for every charge. Observe the timing intervals of the force field before you attempt to cross through, if you do not destroy the force field devices.

There is not a way to destroy the force field projecting devices without an explosion of some kind, which could be a mine trap or a normal bomb. If you plan on destroying them, place a bomb on the middle device out of the three while the force field is recharging and then retreat back. Though you can realistically pass through the force fields while they are recharging, they typically spawn around something to protect. In this instance, this would be the Alien Lord that is located right behind them. If you do not destroy them, and do pass over them, this gives you a very small area to fight the Alien Lord, which will – unless you are prompt in delivering a bomb to the Alien Lord – result in a fatality of the Spelunker. If you do not pass through them, and do not destroy them, then you will have to time all your attacks around the recharging of the force field. The force field has the ability to reflect any projectile, be it a bomb or shotgun bullets. Blasting a shotgun into a flared up force field will one shot the Spelunker, unless his or her health exceeds six.

  • Alien Lord: Ten (10) HP
    • Journal entry: A powerful psychic creature that commands a large spacecraft.

The Alien Lord is located at the back end of the spacecraft, standing on a raised platform of ice cavern terrain behind the protection of three force field projecting devices. The Alien Lord takes up the whole space of the terrain he is standing on, which is only two tiles wide. Since it is a raised platform, there is one tile a tile lower that is not occupied by either the force field projecting devices or the Alien Lord himself. Additionally, he is two tiles tall, giving his alcove two tiles clearance.

He is as green as the aliens discovered from fallen UFO saucers, with one large eye, with a few tentacle-like appendages protruding from beneath him. His power lies in his psychic powers, as suggested by the message that first appeared when the level began, ‘I sense a psychic presence here…’. Slowly swirling circles of neon purple energy, just like the force field beams, will gradually drift towards the Spelunker when he comes into range of the Alien Lord. A few are emitted in each volley of attack. These swirling circles pass through any matter, ice cavern terrain, spaceship construction, and any monsters. The swirling circles behave differently when they hit a monster though. The monster, or humanoid, will be juggled slightly as the swirling circle continues to drift onwards, killing them in seconds if the monster or humanoid is not instantaneously killed by the initial ten damage from touch.

These swirling purple circles move slowly, but can pass through anything as they hone in on their target from a far distance. This makes these psychic emissions deadly and cumbersome to deal with. After long enough, the swirling circles will dissipate, only to be replaced by another volley launched by the Alien Lord. Due to their sluggish rate of movement, they can be outrun, except they track the Spelunker, cornering the Spelunker with fatal ease.

The strategy for dealing with the Alien Lord varies depending on the angle of approach chosen. If the Spelunker does not enter the crashed spacecraft proper, and instead opts to run along the top of it, the Alien Lord can be found at the end, but separated by a few tiles of terrain and the material of the spacecraft. The Alien Lord is able to emit his psychic circles from that range, and they will pass through the terrain and spacecraft after the Spelunker. Unlike being inside of the spacecraft, there is the great availability of open space here, even if some floating terrain is nearby. To use this to its full potential, throw up at least one rope but preferably a couple ropes before directing your full attention to the Alien Lord and its psychic circles. As the psychic circles drift after the Spelunker, instead of only having the ability to sprint back and forth horizontally, you now have vertical climbing and dodging available, and the angles that come from that.

One very well placed bomb will be enough to break open a clear hole to the Alien Lord. In most cases, it will take at least two. Always pause what you are doing to keep ahead of the psychic circles, jumping onto, across, and climbing the ropes as needed, all while maintaining about a half tile distance between your Spelunker and the psychic circles. You can rush ahead, but they will eventually catch up until they disappear. A single bomb is all that is needed to defeat the Alien Lord, but it is very difficult to get the bomb into there due to the psychic emissions. If you do defeat the Alien Lord, a jewel will drop from him and behind him will be the rare jetpack. This jetpack is the most influential in the ice caverns, as no longer will your Spelunker will be restricted to climbing and watching his or her step. It does not have to be carried either, as it attaches to the Spelunker’s back.

It feels like Fourth of July!

This level event is hardly random as this occurs on the fourth and last level of the ice caverns, every time you get there. The message that displays, ‘it feels like the fourth of July’ is a reference to the Independence Day film about aliens invading earth. UFOs become much greater in number, and a special structure spawns in one of the upper corners of the level – either the upper right or the upper left corner. This special structure is a vertically positioned spaceship, the opening at the bottom of it. Inside there are some ledges set into the spacecraft’s walls that can be climbed onto. Typically there is some floating terrain a few tiles beneath the spacecraft, but do not rely on them being close enough for the Spelunker to being able to just leap onto one of those ledges. You will have to throw up a rope to get inside, and once you get into one of those ledges, you will just have to throw another rope up to get higher.

Once you reach the next set of two ledges set into the spacecraft’s walls, you will find a door leading into the spacecraft itself. This is the entrance to the mother ship stage.

You are not required to use this door, as there is the normal exit door of the level covered in ice that leads to the temple. If you are still making progress with the Tunnel Man, then it is suggested you avoid the entrance to the mother ship and head straight to the Tunnel Man until you fulfill all three sets of requirements for him to dig out a shortcut. You can still make it to the Tunnel Man, and the temple zone, if you successfully make it through the mother ship zone and then complete the fourth level of the ice caverns again, the normal way of passing through the ice cavern exit door. The game returns you to this fourth level of the ice caverns from the mother ship, which would be useful for inflating your play through’s score.

You could get to the door to the mother ship by blasting a hole on the close by side of the spacecraft. It’s unlikely there will be accessible terrain up there without the use of a rope, but this might require just one instead. You can place down a bomb, pick it up, and time the throw so that the bomb detonates midair just as it collides with the wall of the spacecraft, or your Spelunker can possess the bomb paste that causes your Spelunker’s bomb to adhere by contact to the wall.

Golden Idol

The trap for the golden idol changes yet again in the ice caverns, while the golden idol appears in the levels at a slightly lower frequency than the previous two zones of the game. This time the golden idol rests upon a two tile wide suspended platform of ice, that hangs several tiles above a pit enclosed by stone that is filled with spikes. The platform of ice is noticeably thin, suggesting what will occur. The trap is triggered before the Spelunker even picks up the golden idol, as the ice begins to melt and crack. It might appear to be wafting off steam, as if melting, prior to any contact; this seems to only be cosmetic.

Pick up the golden idol quickly, and find solid ground elsewhere, as the ice platform will melt away and if your Spelunker lingers too long on that platform he or she will fall into the pit below, impaling onto the spikes.

It is relatively clear the danger that is presented when looking at the trap for the golden idol. True harm can come from slipping on the ice, and falling onto the spikes, or else falling off the edge entirely into the endless abyss. If you have some luck, past the misfortune of slipping and falling, then your Spelunker might be able to fall onto some terrain and only receive falling damage, instead of plain death.

If you are not at an elevation that is a little over half the total height of the spawned trap structure for the golden idol, then there is some difficulty of getting up to the golden idol’s ice platform. A rope can, most of the time, get your Spelunker up there, but sometimes you might just be too low to reach it, or else not have enough ropes.

Tunnel Man

The Tunnel Man is found yet again after fourth level of this zone, and before the first level of the next one. He will ask the first time for a set of three bombs, and the second time for a set of three ropes, and for the third time he will ask for a golden key originating from the mines. Yes, that last requirement somewhat invalidates the point of using shortcuts, but it is an added difficulty to be able to skip ahead so far into the game – to the last zone of the game (one that is not secret).

This golden key is the same one that opens the chest containing the Udjat Eye. It can be found in any of the levels of the mines except the first. It will have to be carried all the way from where you originally found it, to the hands of the tunnel man at the end of the ice caverns. If you encounter a darkness engulfed level, you will have to juggle the golden key and the lit torch to get through, if you do not want to grope around in the darkness. If you speed through a level in under twenty seconds though, this reduces the chance to find a darkness engulfed level to zero.

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