Home Editorial Serge Just Kinda Talks: Roguelikes

This is me when WiNG told me I couldn't enter the Fable III contest

Sorry for the late article this week, guys! I’ve been too busy developing tactics for new games. The problem is, I need to buy them first, with money. I can’t win them for free like you guys, because technically I work for this site and that would be “unethical.” Really? What a gyp. However, I decided to use my anger at this in a very healthy manner, by telling you about 2 games that exemplify one of my favorite types of games: The Roguelike.

Roguelikes are a subgenre within the genre of Role Playing Games. They are defined in a few ways, with their most notable characteristics being randomized maps and the permanent death of the playable character. These games started with a simple ASCII game named “Rogue” (hence the term Roguelike). However, I’ll be talking about 2 of my favorite modern Roguelike games. And no, NOT Minecraft and Dwarf Fortress.

Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals

This 16-bit jRPG was made for the SNES late in its lifecycle. It used many standard RPG tropes of the time, such as turn based combat, an overworld with random battles, etc. It went relatively unnoticed but garnered a very strong cult-following, and its popularity only grew when emulators started becoming much more popular on the internet. This is because using an emulator made playing the Ancient Cave area of the game actually possible without staying up all night.  This portion of the game is so massive that if you beat the game twice, you get an entire mode devoted to exploring the Ancient Cave with whatever combination of playable characters you wish.


Every time you enter the Ancient Cave, the layout is completely altered. The only thing that doesn’t change is Level 99, but I’ll talk about that soon enough. Now, there are no shops or anything once you enter; your characters all start at level 1 with no equipment, spells or items. You have to find them from treasure chests as you make your way deeper and deeper. And the only way you can leave the Ancient Cave, apart from dying, is an item called Providence which can be found on Level 20 or deeper.

There are 2 types of treasure chests, red and blue. Red chests contain random equipment or items, generated based on what level of the dungeon you’re on. Occasionally you will find a very strong weapon for the level though. Once you leave the dungeon by way of Providence, though, you lose everything you obtained in the red chests. Blue chests, on the other hand, contain items which are not only really strong, but that you get to keep with you on your next trek into the Ancient Cave. You see, even if you get to Level 99 on your first trek through (which is unlikely, at best), you probably won’t be able to kill the Superboss that awaits you there. The only way to be sure that you’re strong enough to take that sucker out is to be decked out in awesome gear, usually all from Blue chests.

There are also items which serve only as collectables, known as the Iris items. The only reason they exist is so they can be displayed in the cafe in the town near the cave. So yeah.

This game within the game is awesome because of the sheer amount of time needed to 100% complete it, or even just complete it in general. It has a gigantic amount of replay, because you’ll likely have to trek through to the higher levels a couple times to get the amount of blue treasure chest gear needed to make it to level 90 and above. Not to mention you can change your party to whoever was playable in the game, at least if you’re playing in the special mode. This way you can have parties which were technically impossible to have in the main game. An awesome addition to the game, through and through, and I highly recommend checking out Lufia II if you’re interested in jRPGs at all. I will not include links to any sites containing a ROM and emulator, as I totally do not officially condone illegal downloading.


This little indie gem is a more devoted roguelike released December 2008. It’s a side-scrolling roguelike where you play a little Indiana Jones type of character complete with a whip. Every level is completely randomized, including the layout, treasure, items, and shops. The game is ridiculously hard, as well: 1 life only. If you die, then back to the beginning you go. Mind you, you can purchase warps which let you start off deeper in the cavern, but if anything this is more harmful than helpful, because you’ll be short on money and weapons when you really need them.

You'll be seeing this screen a LOT

There are a few reasons why this game is so difficult (but in a really satisfying way). For one, you only start with your whip. You need to find everything else on your own, or buy them from the various shops scattered throughout the game. Even when you go get these items, you have to be careful. For example, if you use a bomb in a space where you can’t run away, you blow yourself up and die. Then, back to Level 1. You can always steal items from the store and kill the shopkeeper, but the shopkeeper has a very powerful shotgun which kills in one hit. Plus, every shop keeper from then on will try and kill you.*

Of course, not everything kills in one hit. You can recover health, but the only way to do so is to find and rescue Damsels in Distress. The way you rescue them is to carry them all the way to the end of the level. Once you’ve walked through the door yourself, she’ll give you a kiss, which increases your health by 1. Alternatively, said damsels can be found in kissing booths where you can receive first base prostitution buy a kiss. The prices are usually pretty high, though.

The game gets more and more challenging the farther you go. You can see this as the environments change from the standard cave to an underground jungle, and eventually to an ancient civilization. The enemies change along with the environments, and always get more and more dangerous. Like I said, it’s usually not a good idea to skip any levels, because you can really use the money and items you find in the early cave sections to help out later on. However, if you want to skip levels, the option is certainly available to you once you unlock it. The option to play Spelunky however you wish is definitely one of its finest selling points. You can take time to explore and find treasure, or find the exit as fast as possible. If you need items, you can try and find more treasure to buy it, or you can just steal it from the shopkeepers and risk being killed as a thief. It’s all up to you.

You can find Spelunky here. A version for XBox Live Arcade is being developed, but has no release date set as of the writing of this article. The PC version is completely free, and is currently at Version 1.1.

*Just like in real life ~WiNG

5 replies to this post
  1. Never tryed lufia II before, but I can say that spenlunky is awesome… AWESOMELY HARD, but awesome =D

    Seriously, if there is a game to make you go “FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU!!!” is this one… people will probably say I wanna be the guy, but I’m talking of roguelike games, and also, this one has the awesome quirk of being fun in a way you always want to prove the game wrong and beat it .. in a fun ragefull manner.

    And it’s everyone’s favourite price… FREE! I feel like playing it again once the test season at uni is off, thanks for making me recall this gem SergeT3 ^^

  2. Ah, I love Spelunky. Thank god you mentioned it, it deserves it.
    The fun thing is that you die like 100 times and don’t get bored (you might not have a keyboard anymore because of rage, though). But yeah, the 101th usually takes it. To be honest, I never got past level 4.

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