Reviews by Emily Short
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IFDB Spelunking replicates Joey Jones' experience playing (or trying to play) all ten games in a "10 random games" list from IFDB. Of the games on the list, two are in non-English languages, a couple are in obscure formats that are a challenge to play, and one is pornographic; several of the others are just really bizarre or really shoddy.
Joey's footnotes and hints make several of these games easier to get through: for instance, I was stuck in the playthrough of Minimum Wage Job (otherwise one of the more accessible of the games on the list), but was able to rely on nudges that presumably aren't in the original game. From time to time he also offers some amusing commentary, though not by any means at MST3K quantities.
On the other hand, the nature of the game means that you *can't* go on and finish the games that Joey himself didn't get through -- so even if you read French or German and would be curious to go further with those games, Joey quickly backs out, and you will have to do so as well. (At least it's possible to download the original games from IFDB and go on with them if you are intrigued.)
Spelunking also allows you to bring away your final inventory from each game and continue to carry it in the next. This is where a majority of the invention and entertainment come from. There are various gags that involve wearing inappropriate clothing in the wrong game, for instance, or having tools that a particular game isn't expecting you to possess.
These features are entertaining, but the overall experience still necessarily feels pretty haphazard. I think I might have derived more value from a guided tour of a series of games that the author thought fit together particularly well, or had some merits despite being low-rated -- but that would have missed the point entirely.
Given Joey's essential premise of committing to whatever ten games popped up on a random list, he managed to create a more accessible and enjoyable rendition of that experience than going through that list first-hand would have been. It's also pitched as an encouragement to other people to go IFDB Spelunking. I don't quite have Joey's patience -- I certainly wouldn't have downloaded some of those emulators just to be able to play games that had gotten negative reviews to start with -- but he certainly makes a case for the diversity of the IF back catalog.
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