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Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
Spelunky Game Poster Image
Highly challenging platformer rewards dogged determination.

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 2 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Educational Value

Kids can learn about strategy, problem solving, cooperation, and perseverance in this challenging platform adventure. Players need to develop a willingness to keep at it in order to figure out how to overcome the game's many different obstacles and make their way through a perpetually changing series of navigational challenges. They'll also learn to verbally cooperate with other players as they work toward the same goal in the multiplayer mode. Spelunky is particularly hard to play, but it helps kids practice problem solving while demonstrating that diligence can pay off.

Positive Messages

This game promotes a positive social local gaming experience, with up to four players playing cooperatively or competitively on the same screen. Its high level of difficulty encourages players to be strategic and thoughtful as they work their way through dangerous caves.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The game's hero -- players can choose from several of different genders and ethnicities -- is an explorer. He saves people in need of saving when possible (though he can also accidentally knock them out), but his primary goal is simply to journey ever deeper into the game's caves, collecting treasure along the way. 

Ease of Play

This is a very difficult game, but not necessarily frustratingly. Players need to restart worlds from scratch when their spelunker dies, but the levels are different each time so it never feels like you are re-treading old ground. Still, kids who aren't cautious and don't learn from their mistakes may find their frequent failures disheartening.


Players control little cartoon spelunkers who face dangers including snakes, spiders, bats, piranha, spiky pits, zombies, and crazed caveman. Kids can use a little whip to strike their enemies, which results in a couple of small blobs of red blood flying through the air. Bombs -- meant for creating new passages -- can also be used to destroy some enemies.


Rescued women will bestow a smooch on the player's explorer.  

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Spelunky is an extremely challenging platform adventure game available through Xbox Live Arcade that includes a bit of cartoonish violence and a small amount of blood. Its mild combat (against spiders, bats, and cavemen) and high level of difficulty make the experience best suited for older kids of a more persevering nature. However, thoughtful players with a mind for strategy and quick problem solving will be well rewarded as they journey deeper into the game's constantly changing caves.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 8 year old Written bymojomartha January 4, 2013

Intensely fun...but frustrating game.

Spelunky is sort of like Indiana Jones meets Pitfall. You're a cave explorer, treasure hunter or perhaps an archeologist -- each level is randomly generat... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bykniroid October 18, 2012

great game

this game is awesome! not many people will be reading this, but it really is a good game. it has a high difficulty, and challenges the player to think out how t... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byBobideybob August 5, 2018
i got another version of this on my laptop, extremely hard game, very annoying to have to restart when you die, i made it to the last level and then died. But... Continue reading

What's it about?

Based on an acclaimed freeware PC game of the same name, SPELUNKY is an exceptionally challenging side-scrolling platform game available through Xbox Live Arcade. It puts players in the shoes of an explorer who has found a magical cave filled with treasures and traps. The caverns are magical because they change layout each time the player descends. New paths, hazards, and treasures take shape, ensuring gamers never play the same level twice. The goal is simply to survive long enough to unlock new environmental themes and hazards, which become unlocked after surviving four consecutive levels (about five to ten minutes of play). Players can also explore the caves cooperatively with up to four local players, or go head to head against each other in speedy brawling matches that feel a little like the Super Smash Bros. games.

Is it any good?

Spelunky is a terrific platform gaming experience for those who have the patience to persevere. Its genius shines through in several ways, from extremely tight controls to the satisfying manner in which players can use bombs strategically to break through rock and create new passages and paths. However, the game's greatest strength is the sense of exploration and wonder it conveys. Each time the player starts a new descent he won't know what he'll encounter. He may find darkened areas lit only by torches, pools of water he'll need to drain by blasting through them, golden idols that are booby-trapped, or people who run shops, host mini-games, or are just waiting to be saved. The constantly changing caves eliminate the problem of repetition, making the game a truly never-ending adventure. It's great bang for your buck and can be wonderfully gratifying -- assuming you don't mind doing a whole lot of dying.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about spelunking. What do you think of the hobby of exploring caves? What kinds of dangers are involved? Would you be scared to explore pitch black holes in the sides of mountains?

  • Families can also discuss perseverance. Some games require players to try, try again in order to be successful. Does this kind of play bother you? Do you feel a greater sense of satisfaction when you are finally successful?

  • Is going on a virtual adventure important to you? What is it about adventure games that draws you to them?

Game details

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