ROM Computer Magazine Archive ROM MAGAZINE ISSUE 10 — FEBRUARY/MARCH 1985 / PAGE 51


Reviewed by Gavin Bamer

n. a person who explores caves as a hobby.
    The crude elevator with me on it slowly descends with a whirr into the upper reaches of a massive complex of caves. Within seconds, I push the emergency brake button as I spy a rough, worn cave floor stretching before me into the foreseeable distance. I hop off the elevator in great expectation of what wonders I may find-things which have been seen by only a few hardy, brave souls.
    As I walk carefully along the debris strewn natural corridor, the only sound to be heard is the soft melodic clinking and clanking of my exploration equipment. Slowly my carbide helmet light picks out a moving object just ahead. A moment later I come upon a ladder swaying in front of me. I gingerly step on it so that I may lower myself over the looming abrupt cliff to a cave floor twenty feet below.
    Back on firm ground, I edge carefully forward. I pocket several flares and sticks of dynamite which I find lying about. Much to my dismay, I come up to a dead-end and have to back-track to a point where I had seen the end of a rope dangling above me.
    Before I can reach that spot I hear a blood-curdling tune and see a shimmering white human-like object float towards me. The spelunker legend which I had mocked was true after all. These caves were indeed haunted by phantoms of the dead miners from ages past. Knowing that just one touch from one of these ghouls would kill me, I grab my blaster and pull the trigger. Like a fan blowing away smoke, my blaster slowly dissipates the jeering ghost into the nothingness from which it came.
    I continue on my way. Within moments I find myself standing under the rope which I had previously bypassed. Here I stand, trying to gather up enough courage to see where the rope leads. Before I can come to a decision, my blaster begins to whine-an indication that I had better find a replacement battery for it or else I will be blown to smithereens. I jump up, catch hold of the rope and shimmy upwards onto a small, narrow ledge. Today must be my lucky day because right before me lies a battery. I clip it into place and descend back down the rope. There are no other passages in this area, so I make my way to the elevator.
    The elevator is right where I left it, so I use it to take me down deeper into the earth. I leave this contraption at a place where a passageway slopes steeply out of sight. On my gradual descent, I walk up to a volcanic vent which is blocking my way. Deadly sulphuric gas is periodically being released, so I must be very cautious. Since there is no other visible means of going around the vent, I carefully jump over it and continue on my way.
    I soon come upon a deep chasm which I descend via an old nylon rope. At the bottom sits an old, worn out rail car waiting for someone to take it down the tracks which line the long tunnel. Once in, I slowly chug along, dodging the spots where lethal asbestos vapours drift to the ground. At the end of the tracks stands a ladder leading upwards into the darkness.
    Having a lift from the car. I make my way up the ladder to a short tunnel filled with the eerie shrieking of a bat. Knowing that just one bite from the bat would kill me, I tread no further. In a moment of inspiration I release a flare, temporarily blinding the bat. With a quick dash, I am past the cave section where the bat is spinning around in confusion. I sit down on an outcropping to catch my breath and see an object shining in the enveloping darkness. It is a key! Perhaps it unlocks some secret passageway further along in these endless catacombs.
    Continuing on my way, I come up to a dead-end. I retrace my footsteps to where I left the bat shrilly guarding its domain. My remaining flare would not light, so I make a run for it-to no avail. "The bat got me!" I exclaim to myself as I drift off to a deep sleep. I awaken at the entrance to the caves, the elevator waiting to lower me down for another attempt at exploring the world of the spelunker.
    The object of the game is to lead your man through six levels full of new and unique challenges. Points are scored by collecting along the way various treasures, keys, flares, dynamite, batteries, and extra lives. The extra lives come in handy as one can lose men very easily while jumping ropes, ladders, outcrops, volcanic vents, flowing lava, and so on. Bats, ghosts, the falls, a shaft, a raft trip, and many yawning chasms can also prove to be deadly. The game is thus quite difficult to master, as once one area is conquered, a whole different section of dangers beckons.
    The graphics, created by Tim Martin with MicroGraphic Image, is quite detailed and uses a scrolling system which allows for a rather large playfield. For instance, the first of the six levels consists of twelve screen-falls of underground caverns. This presents quite a challenge for the player to work through.
    The other facet of Spelunker that is noteworthy is the sound. Each aspect of the game has its own sound, from the elevator noise to the bats; with special commendation going to the very realistic sound of the waterfalls in the third level.
    Overall, this is a very enjoyable and original game which is not too complex, yet difficult enough to hold one's interest for an immeasurably long time. Spelunker will definitely be counted as one of the best games of the year.

Broderbund Software, Inc.
17 Paul Drive
San Rafael, CA 94903

Graphics: 10
Sound: 10
Documentation: 9
Challenge: 10
Holds Interest: 10
Overall Rating: 9.8