The Spelunky Adventures: Respect the shopkeepers

March 6, 2014


Gaining Kali’s trust (and her useful items) is only part one of gathering what I consider Spelunky’s perfect set of items. Unfortunately, the others you need to cross your fingers and hope for. The shopkeepers might stock some of these useful tools, but sometimes I run into stores and find nothing but bundles of ropes and maybe a small bag of bombs. Thanks for nothing, shopkeepers!

Getting the perfect set isn’t something you should rely on entirely because, like I said, luck may not be on your side. Having said that, these are the items I consider almost essential when tackling Spelunky’s more menacing challenges, which basically start as soon as you get to the jungle. Of course, the jungle might be a cakewalk for many Spelunky veterans; I just find the bat-plus-tiki-trap combo to be especially difficult. You know all about me and bats by now.

The compass is a necessity to survive. I have never made it very far in the game’s fourth area, the temple, without it. Knowing exactly where the exit is located gives me a chance to go right for it if exploration in certain levels seems too dangerous to even consider. When a level is shrouded in darkness, you’ll be thankful you spent that extra gold on an item many players tend to overlook. It seems like an obvious choice, right?


The spike boots can get you out of the stickiest of situations. And by sticky situations, I specifically mean giant spiders attacking you with their webs. While the preferred method is still to bomb them before they are even aware of you, having some kind of advantage over them if they do strike is absolutely essential. The spike boots are also essential for taking out all sorts of bigger enemies without relying on a ranged weapon like the shotgun or boomerang, so even if I think I’ll never need them or rarely get to use them, I always like to have a pair handy.

Stocking up on as many bombs as possible as soon as possible will save you a lot of trouble later on. Not only are they handy for quickly getting to the exit when necessary, but you also can’t get too far in the temple without a good number of them. This all comes back to the compass, because I honestly like to bomb through the floor straight down towards the exit if it’s below me, being mindful of any enemies or traps that might get in my way. I can’t tell you how many times bombs and the compass saved my life in the temple when I thought there was no way I could reach the exit.

Ropes are necessary at first, but once you find an alternative means to move up and down areas without trouble, they will become obsolete. Spelunky’s best item is the jetpack, which changes the game’s dynamic almost entirely. I won’t deny I’ve made a fair share of mistakes with the jetpack that prematurely ended an otherwise-fantastic run, but it’s hard not to feel invincible when you have one. It makes exploration easier than ever, especially once you get to the third area, the ice caves.


I love the ice caves, simply because it’s the most relaxing section in the game if you’re prepared for them. These levels still have their fair share of tricky challenges, sure, but if you have a jetpack, you can explore and will almost never have to worry about falling too far or not being able to get back up. Plus, it has some of the best music in the game. How can you explore the caves with that music playing and not have the biggest smile on your face?

I can see the ice caves being problematic without a jetpack, but that’s where the cape and climbing gloves combo comes in handy. While it doesn’t completely make up for the jetpack as you might still need to rely on a few ropes here and there, being able to climb up walls and then slowly glide back down without worry is still a nice, relaxing way to travel. I never thought I would use the word relaxing when talking about Spelunky, but here we are.

It’s always nice to have a weapon too, like a shotgun, but it’s not completely necessary. Once you get past the jungle and have the items you need, you should be set for the rest of the game assuming you don’t make any silly mistakes like I tend to do. If you do have trouble finding these items, you can always try your luck at the black market, which is hidden in the jungle (and, like the ice caves, has some amazing music).


Everyone approaches the black market one of two ways. First, you can just shop as you normally would, just buying whatever you can afford and taking your leave. The other, preferred method among Spelunky experts is robbing the place blind. This requires angering and successfully defeating the shopkeepers, and there are seven total in the black market. Sounds simple, right? No way, that’s crazy talk; they will tear you apart before you even have a chance to blink. What were you thinking?

I can’t say I’ve ever successfully robbed the black market myself, mostly because the shopkeepers, like bats and tiki traps, terrify me. Every attempt has ended in complete failure even after learning an excellent strategy, so I do my best to leave them be. Why harm them anyway? All they want to do is sell you some useful tools. It’s not cowardice, it’s just me being heroic and sparing those shopkeepers from my wrath. Yeah, that sounds good.