In most games, the point is to grow or acquire money, gear, and abilities before you cross the finish line. But a recent Spelunky playthrough eschews nearly everything for the sake of achieving a devilish challenge.
Recently, Spelunky savant Jamie White completed the first-ever “Haunted Max Low No Gold Hell” run of the celebrated roguelike, which a hardcore fan site has dubbed the hardest run ever. In layman’s terms, White had to beat the 2012 platformer with only the starting gear. No gold, no items — nada. It’s a curious play through that turns what is normally a reward, money, into an obstacle to avoid. Otherwise, White has to rely on his trusty whip, four hearts, two bombs, and four ropes for the entirety of the run.
In addition to those stipulations, White also has to complete the Haunted Castle and Hell portions of the game while also defeating Yama and the Worm, all of which require special rituals before players are granted entry.
“The trickiest part of this run is the insane lack of resources,” White told Polygon in an email. “It basically takes some already incredibly difficult runs and combines them.” White says that he spent about a year looking for a good “seed” that would make this run-through possible, and that he died four different times on other randomly generated worlds that fit the profile. Proper seed generation is necessary, because some parts of the run aren’t otherwise achievable — the Castle portion of the challenge, for example, doesn’t always spawn.
For casual onlookers, the most nail-biting moment in the video might be in level 2-3, when White aggravates a handful of shopkeepers after stealing the Ankh, which is necessary to get into a specific world. Somehow, White manages to trap all the shotgun-wielding trigger-happy ruffians into a single hole, where the angry men just kill each other. It’s especially nerve-wracking because it ensures that a deadly shopkeeper awaits at the end of upcoming levels. But if you ask White, that wasn’t the trickiest part of the play through.
“Something very surprising in this run is on the second to last level in Hell, I took a huge risk against a Blue Devil and almost lost the run,” White says.
White also contests whether or not this can be considered the most difficult run ever, as MossRanking dubs it — but there’s an air of humbleness when he explains why.
“It’s tough to quantify what the most difficult run is in Spelunky,” White says. “There are so many factors including the insane RNG. I’d say this is one of the most difficult runs in Spelunky, but I can’t definitively say it is the most difficult one. I’ve had other runs that required more precise movements and more skill in general than this run.”
MossRanking fans say that with the completion of this run, they’re now waiting for the arrival of Spelunky 2. But until then, White says that he’s going to keep trying to push what’s possible in the original game.
“There will always be room in the speedrun world records,” White says. “Even when Spelunky 2 comes out I’ll probably be trying to push Spelunky records more and more because I just love the game.”