The only game in the entire Switch presentation that sent my fists pumping triumphantly into the air was Minna de Waiwai! Spelunker. It’s not a system seller for me like it was on PlayStation 4 but beyond Breath of the Wild it’s the only thing they showed that I was eager to play.
The gameplay (and stages) look to be the same as in Spelunker World but the trappings around them have been refreshed. There’s a new art style to the menus, a new world map and base camp screen, and the multiplayer lobby looks to be more informative about what gear everyone is bringing. Speaking of multiplayer, the game is reduced from a max of 6 players to 4, all of which can play together locally via splitscreen in TV Mode. It even supports 4 players in Tabletop Mode, though I can’t imagine staring intently at 1/4th of a 6-inch screen would be any fun. I was worried that the game would be local play only but word has it that online multiplayer is supported as well.
Visually the graphics feel pared down to me, lacking the reflections and sharp detail that frequently surprised me on PS4. Forgive me, but on the Switch it looks more like a Wii game in HD. It’s not a knock on the hardware, I think the flatter, more cartoony style just doesn’t play so well in screenshots. I’m still waiting to see it in motion beyond the 1.5 second snippet from the sizzle reel. See if you can spot it!
Possibly the biggest change is that the game isn’t free to play anymore! For roughly $45 you’ll be able to download the game or pick it up at retail. I am especially tempted to import the game just to have a physical Spelunker to hold and love and hate and love again… and smash against a wall for all the times it killed me. The price tag also means there’s no concept of buying Retries, at least there aren’t any Moon Stones in the screenshots released so far. New players will never know the real agony of death unless they come up with a new system to take its place. Maybe you lose coins or experience and it just takes longer to level up your gear.
But maybe my favorite thing about Minna de Waiwai! Spelunker is that Google translates the title to “Everyone is crazy! Speller car” which is the follow up to one of my favorite games, “Everyone with Sprank Car Z”. If I do somehow end up with a Switch you can expect much reporting on Speller Car after its Japanese release on April 20th (and then again whenever it hits the U.S.).