Spelunky’s level modifiers can be both a gift and a curse. I do spend most of my time in the mines running away from bats in terror, but these modifiers give me a reason to take my time. Some tend to pay off in ways you might not expect, like the dark levels being full of golden bugs which net you a ton of gold, but they often lead to unexpected deaths. I still find myself panicking around bats, but the modifier that terrifies me almost as much as those winged devils happens to involve many, many spiders.
The best advice I received on how to deal with some level modifiers was to simply try to find the exit as fast as possible. This is made easier with a handy compass, but simply traversing to the bottom while being as careful as possible can still be a hassle. The modifier titled “my skin is crawling” features an alarming number of spiders, both small and large. Bats are still the worst, yet when I run into this modifier, I almost always find myself making rookie mistakes.
Big spiders are problematic because I always want to find a way to kill them, especially if I want to get sticky bombs (which I always do). I’ve gotten better at diagonal bomb tossing, sure, but it’s still tricky and I find myself triggering the spider just as often as I actually manage to kill it. Sometimes my anxiety when it comes to those monstrosities is my greatest weakness. Other times, well, I just find myself doing something dumb. Actually, the latter is the majority of the time.
I consider spiders to be relatively easy to take care of when you’re dealing with one or two, but during these modifiers you find yourself facing (or running from) larger groups of them at once. Throw in the big spiders with their uncanny ability to track you down no matter how far away you think you are, and you have a recipe for an early death. I’m past the point when I had to worry about most of my runs ending in the mines, but when this particular modifier comes up, it never tends to go well.
Let’s… stop talking about spiders now. Nobody likes them. While that may be my least-favorite modifier in the mines, I tend to find a way to escape it, narrowly or otherwise. Once you get into the jungle and have to deal with a level covered in darkness, I almost never survive. Not only does the jungle contain bats, but it also features tiki traps. If you’ve played Spelunky and haven’t had experience with tiki traps yet, you don’t know pain.
Tiki traps are triggered whenever someone stands even relatively close to them, and they’ve killed me more times than anything else in the game. When I face a tiki trap that I need to climb over in order to pass, I decide using a bomb (or several) is the preferable way to deal with them. Why waste bombs on a silly trap? Because I can never get over them without second-guessing myself, thus ending a perfectly good run in a matter of seconds.
These traps are a problem on their own. Dealing with them, a darkness modifier, a bunch of bats and a few other awful surprises? I may as well surrender to Spelunky immediately. I’ve survived these levels before (barely), but they always leave me wondering why the game has it out for me. Sometimes when I think it will be the run that will take me to the end of the game, it gives me one of these modifiers. It’s the curse of positivity.
Luckily for me, they don’t tend to show up too often. The threat of this modifier, however, always lingers, ready to strike at a moment’s notice. If Spelunky has taught me anything, it’s to never think about succeeding, because as soon as you do it will strike in the most malicious way possible. What have I ever done to you, Spelunky? Perhaps I will never know.