Hello! I'm Tom. I designed a game called Gunpoint about rewiring things and punching people, I'm on a weekly gaming podcast called The Crate & Crowbar, I wrote these two short stories in the Machine of Death collections, and I used to write articles like these for PC Gamer. I'm now prototyping two new games, Heat Signature and one about grappling hooks.
Pentadact: If only there were a Radiolab episode about this.
Pentadact: Cheers! Right now collision is done per-pixel...
BadBannana: Hmm, Arstotzkan Coffee actually sounds really good...
I’m so amazingly goddamn rich. A string of gold-studded and jewel-encrusted Mine levels led straight into the Jungle, where two levels in a row left a Bone Idol trivially close to the exit. I barely had to nudge them to get out $40,000 richer, long before the ghost they trigger showed up. And now I’ve found the Black Market.
It’s a network of shops where, if you haven’t angered any shopkeeps thus far, you can buy almost every item in the game, and one that’s available nowhere else: the Ankh. The Ankh gives you a second life, and costs $50,000. It’s hard to earn $50,000. I have $120,000.
Before I get it, I want all the other equipment I’ll need. Most of it’s on the middle floor, but there are enemies: two boomerang tribesmen watch over the entrance to the shops, and a snail blows acid bubbles up the ladder that could help me bypass them.
I buy a shotgun from the top floor, then drop down to blow all the tribesmen away in one shot. I miss. A boomerang knocks me out of the air, nailbitingly close to a fatal pitcher plant below, and onto the snail. The snail is crushed, but the tribesmen are wild: by the time I pick myself up, one has thrown himself to his death and the other has jumped into the shops. Now he prowls them slowly, looking for me.
This is tense. I’m dying to shoot him, but it’s madness to fire in the direction of a shopkeeper. I just have to tail him at a safe distance and buy the items I need as I pass them. I’m reasonably confident he won’t turn round – and even if he does, he dropped his boomerang outside.
There’s a boomerang on sale in this shop actually. The tribesman walks up to it. He picks it up.
For a split second, I am amused. He’s going to buy a new boomerang! Silly tribesman, you don’t own material wealth!
Then my internal simulation of Spelunky’s interacting systems kicks in, and I see the next few seconds flash before my eyes with pure horror.
I jump onto the ladder, scramble up, dive away from the top floor shops, duck behind a mound of earth and hug the ground. Jesus Jesus Jesus Jesus Christ.
For a second, nothing happens.
Then the Black Market explodes.
All nine shopkeepers hurl themselves into the air and start firing their shotguns in random directions. They kill the tribesman. They kill two other tribesmen. They kill frogs, pitchers, snails. One kills the slave he was selling, another kills his own dog. Two of them throw themselves to their deaths in the excitement. Four of them throw themselves into a pit, where their bursts of buckshot cut each other to ribbons.
When the blasts quiet down, I crawl slowly out of my hiding place and walk carefully through the empty shops, collecting everything for free. What happened here was: the Tribesman walked out of the shop. He walked out of the shop with the shopkeeper’s boomerang in his hand, and he walked out of the shop without paying for it.
Shopkeepers don’t know, much less understand, who stole from them or damaged their store. Any crime, of any kind, is cause for an indiscriminate rampage that kills everything in line of sight, and a lot more besides. When that happens in the Black Market, there’s a term for it. It’s the shopstorm.
I find one surviving shopkeeper hopping madly around the Ankh, bouncing on the bodies of the colleagues he’s killed. I throw one of the 35 sticky bombs I’ve shoplifted at him, and he detonates a second later. I take the Ankh and the heaps of gold the shopkeepers dropped.
In four levels’ time, I’ll use the climbing gloves I stole to cling to a wall in the ice caves, directly below a collapsing platform that will fall onto me and hit the jetpack I stole, causing it to explode and kill me, wasting the Ankh I stole. But all I’m thinking right now is wow, I’m still incredibly rich.
Andy Baio: And that's why Spelunky is my game of the year.
Johnkillzyou: Wow. You are incredibly rich. Not only in money, but in stories.
Phil Nelson: I love games that provide us with these kinds of stories.
theharribokid: what a great story
Juan Bello (PAMVllo: WOW You're really fucking rich! XD amazing story I would like to watch a footage, sad that there's no a one =(....BUT FUNNY AND GREAT STORY!
Retodon8: Being a classic Spelunky player (new version soon), that made me smile. :)
A Successful Spelunky Run, by Tom Francis: [...] Shopstorm. [...]
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