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Spelunky Guide – The Mines

Within this article you will find a plethora of information regarding the Mines zone, including its monsters and random level events. Strategies and advice is offered to best tackle these obstacles and monsters.

Risk VS Reward

As your Spelunker is scrambling across level by level, zone by zone, this core gameplay concept will be present and saturated in your play through’s progress, in the many actions that the Spelunker takes, no matter how miniscule the worth of that decision or action might be. In Spelunky there is this invisible element of a measuring scale, weighing Risk versus Reward.

The idea, and the rule – typically - is that the more risk that is taken, the more reward is to be potentially gained. Risk is the potential occurrence of some type of negative to the Spelunker, with the ultimate and ending outcome to be the Spelunker’s death. Risk could be the potential to lose a heart of health, in order to hopefully gain a gemstone – a small risk for a small reward. That example could be considered large risk if the Spelunker only possesses one or two hearts of health left remaining, but it might not because the only danger is an enemy in between the Spelunker and the gemstone. This then means that while the Spelunker if injured could be killed or brought much closer to death, the likelihood of this occurring is low. Regardless of any of the variables in that example, it is still an instance of risk versus reward.

When the player is forced to make a more conscious choice as to whether a reward is worth the risk or not, is when this core gameplay concept becomes paramount and a deciding factor in the Spelunker’s progress and survival, with a higher effect upon that play through’s score. Risk versus reward could be as simple as trying to speed past a trap, so as to keep some more precious seconds of that level, instead of carefully moving around it. It could be angering a shopkeeper to loot his shop without a piece of treasure spent. It could be spinning away the time, sacrificing multiple cavemen to Kali, with the hope that the Spelunker will make it out of the level before the ghost shows up, and if the ghost does show up, the hope that the Spelunker will make it out alive. It could be choosing to blast a hole open in the terrain, making an access point to a lower shelf of the level, rather than spent the time finding another way down on the other side of the map. That would circumvent the time spent and any dangers over there, such as traps and monsters, but consume a bomb. It could be juggling multiple items, so as to keep as much as possible, but take longer in doing so and potentially open your Spelunker up to damage, maybe even losing both items entirely. It continues from there, all the way to trying to make it to the City of Gold, and meeting all the requirements to get there.

Choosing to engage with a mini boss is an instance of this, as it is possible to entirely circumvent an encounter with the mini boss. By taking on the mini boss, you as the Spelunker risk death, damage, and the consumption of ammunition, but the reward is whatever unique drop comes from that mini boss and the amount of treasure that drops from it as well. Picking up golden idol is also a risk and reward instance, the risk being thwarted by the trap that is sprung from it. Typically, so long as the action is not brazenly foolhardy, the higher risk there is then the higher reward there is. A good depiction of that would be leading the ghost around, converting the scarce gemstones around into diamonds, dodging around the ghost – which translates into the literal touch of death – to swoop upon the diamonds, and then choosing to either do it again, again, or else finally leave the level.

Even if you become seasoned at Spelunky, there is another issue with risk versus reward, in that it is remarkably easy for something bad to happen to the Spelunker, and with the mechanic of permanent death, this makes such a misfortune even harsher. When your Spelunker dies from a reason that should have been foreseeable or very simply preventable, it is called ‘Yet Another Stupid Death’. The term was coined in videogames before Spelunky, particularly just when there is the mechanic of permanent death. One would think that the simple things you come to learn in the game Spelunky would become easily manageable and avoidable, but they can happen regardless. Sure, you are aware of the hazards of bombs, but even then, it is very easy to die from them. You might accidently step into the blast zone of your own bomb, you might toss your bomb, and it actually bounces off the wall, smacking your Spelunker and stunning him, whence it explodes and kills your Spelunker. The presence of ricocheting in Spelunky is a bane of the Spelunker. The further along this happens in a play through, the more grief it brings, especially if you had been doing fairly well, but this is part of the difficult and challenge of Spelunky.

The Main Zones

There are four main zones in Spelunky. For each zone, what kind of traps, monsters, mini bosses, values of treasure, random events, and special events will be listed and explained.

No matter the zone, your goal as the Spelunker is to pass through the exit door of the level, with as much treasure and hearts of health as possible. This is continued until you proceed through all the zones to the final boss - which either can be in the fourth zone, or if you take a harder to achieve route, the fifth zone. Upon defeat of the final boss, your score will be tallied, and if you had not used a Tunnel Man’s shortcut, will be eligible for the leaderboards. Spending your accumulated treasure will deduct from your score, visible even in the tally in between levels. You can choose to circumvent as high of a score as possible, in order to manage to successfully reach the end boss and defeat him, or else the secret zone, and while challenging, is not as great and rewarding of a feat as it would be otherwise.

The Mines

  • Journal entry: An abandoned mine with many deep shafts.

The first zone is The Mines, led to by the gaping blue stoned door in the cavern the Spelunker first climbs down into from a rope. Carvings adorn the wall overhead, of two tribalistic men facing a Chinese styled dragon swirling like an ouroboros – a serpent of some kind biting onto its own tail, and continually devouring itself eternally. The dragon is there to represent infinity, as is reinforced by the message that plays across the screen, ‘The Walls are shifting’. Every time the Spelunker enters the caverns, the tunnels before him or her change.

The Mines are a network of narrow passages supported with worn, rickety rafters and beams, appearing to be cobbled together. Platforms start and end abruptly, often leading into sudden, steep falls, and cobwebs cling to the walls intermittently, while hanging, glowing square shaped lanterns are snuck into places, their false perception of sanctuary easily looked over. Some are not even lit. The Mines are just the beginning of the caverns rife with treasure, hidden in chests and inside the walls. The cobwebs attached to the walls hinder the movement speed of the Spelunker to that of a fraction, as they take up one whole tile just like the Spelunker, but deteriorate each time the Spelunker makes a complete pass through. Once the Spelunker forces through the individual cobweb twice, it will disappear entirely. One of these cobwebs can be used to halt and negate the fall of the Spelunker, if in the correct area, and if a monster enters into a cobweb, they will become entangled and trapped. This is more a tendency of bats.

Monsters

  • Skeletons: One (1) HP
    • Journal entry: A living skeleton straight out of your nightmares.

Piles of bones are found in the Mines, laying there with the jutting bones of a ribcage and the prominent skull. Most often these piles of bones are harmless and the skull can actually be picked up and thrown, albeit as a fragile tool, as upon impact the skull breaks into pieces and dust. These pile of bones can be a monster lying in wait however. When the Spelunker approaches to a close enough proximity, the pile of bones will rise up into a hunching skeleton and shamble towards the Spelunker. The skeletons are easily dealt with if the Spelunker is aware, but if they catch the Spelunker off guard, they will sneak in a heart full of damage. It is important to be vigilant that any pile of bones can be a monster, despite that it is uncommon for them to be so. And even though they are not frequently an actual monster, because of how many piles of bones that spawn in any level of the Mines, the Spelunker can encounter at least a couple of the skeletons per level. It is a useful habit to develop when descending elevations in a level to land directly on top of a pile of bones if there is one there, instead of wherever. Doing this will instantly defeat the skeleton should the pile of bones be one lying in wait.

  • Snake and Cobras: One (1) HP
    • Journal entry (snake): The bane of every adventurer. It enjoys hiding in pots.

  • Journal entry (cobra): A deadly serpent with a distinctive hood and venomous spit.

Green snakes slither back and forth in a observably predictable route of patrol, merely hurting the Spelunker upon contact, whereas the snake’s brethren – the Cobra, continually spits acid green venom as it paces back and forth, whether or not the Spelunker is detected. The acid travels in a slope a few tiles far. The cobra is distinguishable by its fluted head, red eyes, and blue skin. It is simplest to either defeat the cobra from above, by a jumping attack, or approach it from behind, so that the danger of the acid is avoided entirely. Both the snake and the cobra’s patrol route are limited to the continuous surface of the platform they reside on, as they will turn to continue their pacing if their path meets an edge. If the platform they reside on is only one tile is width, they will remain stationary, making them particularly simple to dispatch; but a nuisance if they at the edge of a ledge, as it is difficult for the Spelunker to deal with enemies at a higher angle than them and with no ground beneath their feet, such as would be while hanging off a ledge.

  • Bat: One (1) HP
    • Journal entry: It prefers eating bugs, but will attack human beings if it’s hungry enough.

Purple bats hang at the ceilings, emerging from their closed wings when the Spelunker gets close enough. They will move slowly through the air towards the Spelunker, and harm the Spelunker upon contact. Initially the bats may not seem intimidating, but because of the height they come at the Spelunker, they can be difficult to damage without inadvertently getting harmed in the process, and because they can come from any direction, pushing against the edges of platforms, getting at the underside and sliding beneath, it makes dealing with them even more difficult. A lone bat can actually harm the Spelunker twice if stuck in a hole, as the bat will descend upon the Spelunker, and the Spelunker will have no defense nearly for something directly overhead. A bomb cannot even be tossed upwards, although if it ricochets off the wall properly, it might be able. Regardless, you would be using a bomb on a bat, and likely would not even hit it with the blast anyway; with the luck a Spelunker has, the bomb might just blast the Spelunker apart instead.

  • Spider: One (1) HP
    • Journal entry: Larger than your average household variety. Don’t let it get the drop on you.

Spiders, their presence alluded to by the scattered cobwebs, cling to the ceiling just like bats, or the underside of platforms. When the Spelunker, rather than proximity, passes directly under the spider, the spider will fall. After a second or so on the ground, the spider will then leap in an arc in the direction of the Spelunker, making the spider a monster the Spelunker has to estimate where the spider will end up before and during its arcing leap – that is if the Spelunker does not crack a whip into it before it can actually leap. The spiders do not actually spew web by themselves, despite the presence of the stuff in the Mines, and instead just use the leaping attack to harm the Spelunker.

  • Spinner Spider: One (1) HP
    • Journal entry: It hangs from the ceiling on a silky thread.

Another variety of the spider is the Spinner Spider, which hangs upside down from the ceiling from a patch of web. Its eight legs are outlined in black, with a gray black center, its abdomen is a soft purple and its eyes are a menacing red, with slits a bit like the snakes. It is named the spinner spider because it continually spins web by reeling up and down a few to several tiles, always attached to that spot of the ceiling where its web is. The depth of its fall is variable, so if you observe it only descend a few tiles, and there is a remaining space of a couple more, do not assume that the spinner spider will not reach all the way to the ground to swoop in on the Spelunker.

The Spelunker need not approach the spinner spider to commence its reeling, and so the spinner spider can be easily taken out with a well timed whip or a rock when it has reached the apex of its fall. Sometimes the Spelunker can get stuck in the web the spinner spider is attached to, if the Spelunker tries to attack at the spinner spider’s ‘nest’.

  • Giant Spider: Ten (10) HP
    • Journal entry: A gargantuan spider the size of a car! She traps her prey in sticky webs.

A mini boss in the form of a larger spider can be encountered in the Mines, seen perching overhead in two tiles across of webbing. Passing underneath just like a normal spider will trigger this large one to fall down. This large spider can leap as well, but also scuttles across the floor with its large, spindly legs and randomly toss webbing around. It is among the quickest monsters in the Mines, unimpeded by webbing, even if already present. The giant spider hurts by contact, with the damage of two hearts of health, resulting in a quick death if the giant spider continues to encroach upon the Spelunker. The giant spider has a total of ten health, requiring just a single blast of a bomb, or a total of ten jump attacks. Jumping on a giant spider is far more unwieldy than jump attacking a typical monster, as the Spelunker is propelled off and away with an uncommon speed and angle. This is further complicated by the giant spider’s leaping and scuttling. Upon defeat, the giant spider will drop a jar of bomb paste and a couple gems.

The simplest way to defeat the giant spider is to lob a bomb into the webbing it is perched upon, and the bomb will get stuck to the webbing, which will cause the explosion to hit the giant spider. This would only work if the spider has not discovered the Spelunker yet though. And if the Spelunker does not want to risk damage and death from the giant spider, the giant spider can be escaped by sprinting across a decent distance and descending a level or two, or else the Spelunker can pass through a hole that is only one tile across, the only thing the giant spider cannot follow the Spelunker after as the giant spider is two tiles wide.

  • Scorpion: Two (2) HP
    • Journal entry: A predatory arachnid with a poisonous stinger on its tail.

Seen less commonly are scorpions, distinguishable by their golden carapace. They pace in a patrol just like snakes do, except when they notice the Spelunker, they will leap with a startling and dangerous swiftness, clawing into the Spelunker. The scorpions are also hardier, as a single jump attack or a whip attack will cause the scorpion to curl up somewhat, with stars floating above its head, signifying it is stunned. It cannot be hurt further, by typical means, while it is in this state. So long as the Spelunker is not within the scorpion’s line of sight, the scorpion will not immediately leap at the Spelunker. Although, because of the scorpion’s defensive mechanic of being partially stunned, the scorpion can be picked up while in this state and placed onto an altar to be sacrificed, earning favor with Kali.

  • Caveman: Three (3) HP
    • Journal entry: One of man’s primitive ancestors.

There is then the caveman, small, tubby men with a whole face full of hair (or fur) except for the area surrounding their beady brown eyes. The caveman might seem like a non-threatening NPC, but when they notice the Spelunker, they will make a noise and start to sprint around, generally towards the Spelunker. This will hurt the Spelunker as they are equivalent to a monster. Striking the caveman will result in him falling to the ground, stunned. While he is passed out like that, he is incapable of being harmed further just like the scorpion. He stays stunned for longer though, making him a more alluring sacrifice. The period of his stun can be misleading, causing the Spelunker to more often make the mistake of holding the caveman too long and getting hurt as the natural result when he wakes up. The caveman has a health total of three, requiring him to be stunned twice to be defeated.

Traps

  • Arrow Trap
    • Journal entry: A basic trap. It fires an arrow when something moves in front of it.

The Arrow Trap occurs in the mines, snuck at the sides of ledges and platforms, even tile large stairs (as the terrain happens to generate that way). The arrow trap is a grey block chiseled like a dragon that upon being triggered will shoot an arrow that deals two hearts of damage, leaving the Spelunker stunned and susceptible to further damage.

The arrow trap can only be triggered by anything moving in its straight line of sight, which is as far as seven tiles. Throwing any object can trigger the arrow trap; the Spelunker just needs to be wary of where the arrow will launch, if it will ricochet, and where it will land. It is very rare to be able to pass through the arrow trap’s line of sight quickly enough to actually avoid the arrow, even when straight falling. It can be done if the Spelunker is nearly at the max distance the arrow trap can trigger, as by the time the arrow reaches where the Spelunker was, the Spelunker is already gone from the act of falling. An arrow trap can be triggered by monsters, more typically done to bats and spiders as they descend from the ceiling. Grabbing onto a damsel or a small mouse can also shield the Spelunker from the damage of the arrow trap, although a damsel only has three hearts of health. As a last resort, an arrow trap can be destroyed just like the majority of tiles can be.

  • Powder Boxes
    • Journal entry: It’s filled with black powder. Handle with care!

Powder boxes appear in more variable frequency than the other traps do in the Mines, typically lodged inside or on the sides of platforms and shelves, instead of lying out in the open. The powder box has a scarlet skull and cross bones painted upon a dark brown box, sealed in on the bottom and top with nailed iron. These boxes are volatile containers that will combust with the destructive force of a bomb when set off. A powder box is incredibly susceptible to combustion, in that if anything hits them they will explode. This can be blood drops from a monster being crushed, a tossed pebble, pieces of dirt spraying from a broken tile of terrain, or anything ricocheted. The Spelunker CAN touch them though, by pushing them and walking on top of them. If a powder box falls from more than a single tile, it will explode, and also will explode midair if they encounter anything along the way.

There is no way to disarm a powder box, so the only way to deal with them is to either set them off at a distance or avoid them altogether, preferably with an object, that if bounced back to the Spelunker, will not harm, such as a pot that will shatter harmlessly. Be mindful of any other powder boxes around, as they are susceptible to exploding as well even if outside of the blast radius of the powder box your Spelunker is manually setting off, because of any possible debris that might strike the powder box from the initial blast. This kind of situation could be immediately and suddenly devastating, killing the Spelunker.

  • Spikes
    • Journal entry: These protrusions will leave big holes in anyone unlucky enough to fall on them.

Spikes are heaps of rubble with haphazardly jutting, tapered bones. Usually spikes are located nearby changes in elevation, in particular small pillars, as the Spelunker would be more likely to fall upon the spikes. Their danger is if the Spelunker falls upon the spikes, in any way that can be considered a descent from air to ground, the Spelunker will instantaneously die from impaling himself or herself upon the protrusions. The spikes do not react and do not move, and so their danger may be underestimated, but are actually a more prevalent source of death to the Spelunker. Traps with the capability to instant kill should always be dealt with a higher degree of caution.

Because of their presence in the Mines, they should be watched out for when the Spelunker must fall from a decent height, as they tend to appear in such locations. If the descent is so great that the ground cannot be seen, you adjust the view of the camera by holding down, causing the camera to adjust while your Spelunker crouches low.

Do not be tempted to jump over a spike trap if your Spelunker is on the same height tile as the spike trap as this makes your Spelunker susceptible to accidentally impaling himself or herself, and unnecessarily as well. The precise danger in a spike trap is falling ONTO it. The Spelunker can walk through the model of the spike trap, provided his or her feet never leave the ground. You can of course leap over the spike trap, and grab onto a ledge that is adjacent to the spike trap’s tile, dangling harmlessly overhead the spike trap, even if the Spelunker’s model intersects the spike trap, as the weight of the Spelunker is not placed upon the spike trap.

If a spike trap needs to be destroyed, it can only be done so indirectly, by destroying the tile in which the spike trap resides on, either by a mattock or a bomb. They can be, as well, destroyed by a rolling boulder, leaving no residual matter as the normal.

Random Level Events

Another modifier to the randomly generated levels in the mines, which can be one out of three.

‘My skin is crawling!’

The first one is when the message ‘My skin is crawling!’ appears, then that level will have a substantial amount more spiders and a lot more spider webs. This can be a particular nuisance as multiple, leaping spiders at once is much harder to deal with. What is most important is that there will be a few, to several giant spiders lurking anywhere in the level. Because of their sheer number, it is advisable to rush past them, especially when two giant spiders have their web nests spawn right beside each other.

‘‘I can’t see a thing!’

The second one is when the message ‘I can’t see a thing!’ appears. The entire level is swallowed in darkness, drastically altering the level generation. A lit torch glows at the feet of the Spelunker, illuminating a small circular area around the Spelunker. Carry this with your Spelunker as much as possible, as it is incredibly easy to impale oneself or get attacked in the dark. To be clear, there are some sources of light spread across the level, but these are uncommon and primarily are from arrow traps. The carved dragon eyes of the arrow traps glow with flames, alerting you to their presence no matter how far or close you are. There are unlit braziers on top of poles scattered around. If your Spelunker lights them with his torch, treasure will trickle out of them, giving a decent amount. It doesn’t drop all at once, so pause when your Spelunker lights it. There are also flying, golden scarabs, with a scarlet symbol on their back. These are not aggressive monsters, but treasure, valuing five thousand treasure if the Spelunker can catch them. The scarabs flutter away when the Spelunker gets close, but if the Spelunker is swift enough, he or she can catch them. This random level event can be the most deadly, and the most cumbersome, as you have to haul around a burning torch. If you manage to lose the torch, such as standing too long at the edge of something, your Spelunker will automatically drop whatever he or she is holding. In this case it would be the torch. You are also less aware of dangers, as the illuminated scope is small, giving less ready options as to how to deal with obstacles and monsters.

If you make it to the exit of the level, and proceed onto the next one, with the torch still in hand, in the next level it will be doused, rendering it as useful as a pebble.

‘I hear snakes, I hate snakes!’

The third and last random level event is when the message, ‘I hear snakes, I hate snakes!’ appears. Snakes throughout that level will be greater in number, and a unique structure will spawn somewhere in the level. This structure is a pit, with multiple tiers of ledges with snakes, boxes, treasure chests, gems, and gold ingots on them; while one of them has a high chance to have the damsel. You can access this pit either from the top, and gradually climb your way down, or you can blast your way into a side, and use a rope to scale upwards if you so desire. Be careful not to fall while exploring the pit, as it is so steep it may kill the Spelunker.

At the bottom of the pit are typically a few cobras. Dispatch these, as their acid in such quantity is dangerous. At the very bottom, if you set a bomb there, the terrain will break open and there will be a mattock. This item is guaranteed to spawn. It is advisable to acquire this item every single time there is a snake pit, as this makes much more treasure accessible to the Spelunker, as the mattock is the equivalent to a pickaxe – allowing the Spelunker to dig into whatever is directly in front of him or her, including the tile in front of him or her, but not below.

This random event level is considerably like a bonus level, instead of something that hurls obstacles at your Spelunker. This is because of the high spawn rate of treasure along the walls of the pit, and the precious mattock. A high amount of gold and gems are buried in the terrain, which does seem highest and most accessible in the mines as well. This is certainly a boon to any style of a play through.

Golden Idol

The golden idol encountered in the Mines has a unique trap to the zone. It will appear to be lying unguarded and without danger upon two tiles wide of carved stone, like a pedestal that does not rise out of the ground. A gargantuan statue of rock will rear up in the background of the golden idol. By picking up the golden idol, the ground will shake and then a rounded boulder will burst out of the head of the statue, tumbling violently in the direction of the Spelunker. If the Spelunker is unfortunate enough to not be free of its path, the boulder will crush and instant kill the Spelunker.

This boulder smashes through anything that comes in its path, and continually falls platform from platform throughout the level until it meets a definitive dead end once its accumulated momentum is spent. Gold and gemstones trapped in risen dirt terrain will be broken free and carried along with the boulder, so that wherever the boulder ends up, some of the treasure it expelled will be laying in front of it or on top of it in a bundle.

There are a few ways to avoid the boulder. So long as your Spelunker is at least three tiles above the floor of the golden idol’s pedestal, your Spelunker will be out of reach of the boulder’s path. This can be achieved by scaling a rope, advisably one placed prior to snatching the golden idol from its pedestal – provided this rope is not placed precisely where the golden idol starts, as the boulder will just crash down upon the Spelunker in all likelihood. Climbing anywhere that’s high enough can work as well, if the distance to get to that higher elevation is quick, being if your Spelunker is not fast enough, he or she will not make it in time. The Spelunker can jump over the boulder, if he or she is at least a tile higher than the elevation the boulder is on.

It is generally safer to keep a distance from wherever the boulder went, as it’s rolling through the level – which will continue to shake the game screen, just in case the boulder rebounds off the wall and tumbles back through where the Spelunker is, or if the Spelunker inadvertently ends up where the boulder is presently rolling to by being hasty.

It is important to keep in mind any shops that appeared in the level, because a boulder if on the same elevation or a higher elevation can smash through the shop, angering the shopkeeper as if your Spelunker intentionally decimated his shop. Most likely intentional by design, shops frequently spawn in levels that also have the golden idol.

If you do not particularly care about angering the shopkeeper, then it would be a straightforward way of attacking the shopkeeper without actually being in range of his deadly shotgun. Though because of how the shopkeeper reacts when he turns aggressive – by bouncing around madly – there is a chance he will actually jump around and over the boulder, saving himself by sheer happenstance. This at least gives you a wider berth to attack the shopkeeper from a range, without the restriction of the entryway of the shop or the wooden construction of the shop.

Tunnel Man

  • Journal entry: A cheerful man who makes his living digging tunnels to the deepest parts of the cave.

After your Spelunker has successfully made it past the fourth stage of the Mines, in the following passage he or she will meet the Tunnel Man, grinning with a shovel in hand. He will ask for some items. In the Mines, he will ask for a single bomb the first time. If you progress through the entirety of the Mines a second time, on another play through, he will ask for a rope. If you progress through the entirety of the Mines a third time, he will ask for ten thousand gold. Once you have provided all these things to the Tunnel Man, he will dig out a shortcut for you to access at a later time. This shortcut leads to the Jungle from the main cavern that you begin the game at. The entrance is covered in vines, just like any door is to the Jungle.

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