Spelunky fans are a dedicated bunch and we've seen the most skilled players achieve spectacular feats over the years. Countless hours spent carefully carrying precious eggplants and zooming through the game in record times has unsurprisingly served as great practice for its sequel. However, we were reminded just how good Spelunky 2's speedrunners are this weekend when we saw several players race to its Cosmic Ocean ending in just over an hour.
The ESA Break the Record: Live online event is a competition that challenges speedrunners from various communities to face off for the best times in specific categories. From January 15 to 18 it focused on Spelunky 2, hosting 'All Shortcuts + Tiamat', and 'Cosmic Ocean' runs. The three-day invitational welcomed popular streamers including d_tea, TwiggleSoft, HectiqueX, and more. The prize pool for each category was also sponsored by developer, Mossmouth.
The competition was fierce and every entrant managed to complete the All Shortcuts + Tiamat challenge in under 20 minutes. However, Spelunky and Necrodancer speedrunner d_tea managed to finish first place in both categories, concluding a Cosmic Ocean run with a time of 01:00:30. HectiqueX was hot on d_tea's heels in second place, taking just two minutes longer.
And that's it for #Spelunky2 #BreakTheRecordLIVE! I was prepared to have a good time but ended up totally blown away by how fun and dramatic it was, from start to finish. Thanks again to @esamarathon for putting on the event and to @mossranking for their help organizing. (...) pic.twitter.com/AMKtrcleLKJanuary 18, 2021
Spelunky's creator, Derek Yu was watching along with the rest of us over the weekend, later tweeting that "[he] was prepared to have a good time but ended up totally blown away by how fun and dramatic it was, from start to finish." Spelunky 2 is only four months old, so to see this level of mastery so early is truly impressive.
Spelunky 2 released in September and TwiggleSoft was the first person to see its special ending in mid-October. It took over four hours to reach this ending at the time, and is still viewed as a huge accomplishment. Previously, no one apart from the developer even knew exactly when the Cosmic Ocean ended. For the first month, it seemed like it was just an endless world filled with looping levels. Even now, only the best players will venture this far into Spelunky 2.
A couple of Spelunkers have managed to reach the Cosmic Ocean ending (7-99) in under an hour, with the best record on MossRanking currently sitting at 57:39. However, the fact that these players were able to beat the game in unseeded runs while streaming them during a live event is a monumental achievement. Getting to the Cosmic Ocean is tricky enough on its own, especially when you consider all the steps required just to arrive in the mysterious final world.
To put it into context, here are all the things you need to do, alongside coping with the added challenge of Spelunky 2's pesky enemies and traps:
- Optional: Grab the golden key and take it to the chest to collect the Udjat Eye on one of The Dwelling levels.
- Complete the Moon challenge to obtain Hou Yi's Bow.
- Optional: Head to Volcana, activate the drill on one of the levels to visit Vlad's Castle, and retrieve the Crown. Alternatively, you can visit the Black Market in the Jungle level to get the Hedjet instead. These steps allow you to grab the Excalibur sword in 4-3 so that you can beat Kingu in Abzu. Read the Tablet of Destiny, select the correct Ushabti in 6-2, then use Qilin to float past Tiamat.
- Leave Hou Yi's Bow with Waddler.
- Optional (but encouraged): Coax Olmec to break through each floor until you reach the lava. Then hop on his head, enter through one of the holes in the wall, and retrieve the Ankh.
- Head past Tiamat in (6-4) to reach the top of the level and take Olmec to the Sunken City.
- Find Waddler and pick up Hou Yi's Bow (7-1).
- Survive the Sun challenge to get the Arrow of Light.
- Defeat Hundun (7-4), and shoot the arrow in its eye to be transported to the Cosmic Ocean.
- Pop the purple bubbles to encourage the Jellyfish to move away from the exit on each level. Survive until 7-99.
And d_tea does it again, getting back the 1st place 10 (!) minutes before no-reset with a fantastic time of 01:00:30! What an amazing performance at the Spelunky 2 #BreakTheRecordLIVE, congrats! pic.twitter.com/y02QE1Kf1GJanuary 18, 2021
To reduce their times, speedrunners sometimes use the Teleporter item to navigate levels faster, but there's no guarantee that you'll find these items along the way. d_tea and HectiqueX each completed the Cosmic Ocean using helpful items like the Jetpack and Clone Gun, but they didn't use the Teleporter in their best runs. They even had time to pick up the Kapala, an item that requires you to sacrifice enemies and pets at Kali's Altars so that you can collect droplets of blood from enemies to build lots of hearts.
Spelunky 2 completion times are now shrinking from multiple hours down to just minutes, and it's amazing to see just how quickly speedrunners have reached this milestone. From uncovering hidden Eggplant Crowns, to steaming through the Cosmic Ocean, I'm excited to see what Spelunky 2 speedrunners have up their sleeves next. Is there even anything left to master?