Spelunky 2, like its predecessor, will have you cursing the game dozens of times before the end of your first play session. Whether you’re a veteran of the franchise or coming to the series for the first time, prepare to meet your end … a lot.
However, death also gives you an opportunity to learn something new that could help you live longer and dive deeper into the game. That’s because each time you restart a run, new and unique level layouts are procedurally generated. That means the only way to get good at Spelunky 2 is to learn what hazards do, how enemies attack, and how to navigate all the way to the bottom, regardless of level layout.
Spelunky 2 is not an easy game. It will take hours of practice to learn the unique nature of each enemy and trap. In time, you’ll understand how each threat affects you, and you’ll be better equipped to handle them, regardless of what configuration they may be in.
In this Spelunky 2 beginner’s guide, we’ve assembled our best tips and tricks to help you last longer each run. While only experience teaches the best lessons, this guide will give you an advantage from the start.
Each life is an experiment
Don’t expect to make any meaningful progress during your first few runs of Spelunky 2. Instead, treat each life as an experiment.
If you encounter a new trap or enemy, approach cautiously. You can try avoiding any new obstacles, or commit that run to understanding this new threat. If it’s a trap, get near it to see what it does. Lure an enemy to the trap and see if it will trigger. Better yet, throw something at it and see what happens.
When you encounter a new enemy, see how close you can get before it notices you. Then, once it does, pay attention to how it attacks. What angle of approach does it take? Can you safely dispose of it with your whip attack, can you jump on it to defeat it, or should you throw something at it? Risk ending your run to find the answers, so that next time you encounter them, you’ll know what to do.
Each run should be less of a race to the bottom and more of an information-gathering session. How much can you learn about traps and enemies this time? The more you know, the safer — and smarter — you’ll travel next time. Once you feel confident that you understand the whims of all the threats around you, only then should you seriously venture further into the game.
Don’t leave the pet behind
In each run of Spelunky 2, you start off with four hit points and little opportunity to regain lost health. You can also find a pet that revitalizes you. (By default it’s a dog, but you can change it to a cat or chinchilla in the game’s settings.) If you make it to the exit with your pal intact, it’ll give you a little kiss before the next stage, increasing your health by one point.
Finding the pet isn’t always easy, but it tries its best to help you. As you make your way through each zone, you may eventually hear it make noise — be it a bark, meow, or squeak. Follow the sound, and you’ll find it hidden in that level. If you’re lucky, you can safely walk up to it and grab it like you would with any other object. Other times, you may need to use a bomb or rope.
Once you start carrying your pal, safely bring it to the exit. Like you, the pet has several hit points. It can die if it takes enough hits or it falls into an instant-kill hazard like spikes.
A new pal will appear in the next area, whether you save the last one or not, which means you will get more than one opportunity per run to gain health. A pet can even replenish your HP beyond the base four hit points you start with.
There are other ways to get health in Spelunky 2 — see what happens when you bomb a turkey, for example — but the pets are the most straightforward.
There’s always a logical path
Every time you start a new Spelunky 2 run, the entire layout of each dungeon is automatically generated based on a few rules.
Each level always pulls from the same supply of hazards, enemies, and special conditions. There will always be a definitive and direct path from the entrance to the exit of each room, too. That means you can (technically) get to the end of each stage without having to use your ropes or bombs to make a creative path downward.
If you ever reach a dead end on your way to the bottom, try going back the way you came and look for a clear path. There will always be one. Of course, the way forward might be filled with monsters and booby traps, but as long as you know how to deal with them, you can find a logical way down.
When in doubt, you can always use one of your finite amount of bombs and ropes to make your own (potentially safer) path.
When to use bombs and ropes
You start each run with four bombs and four ropes. Be creative with these tools and make your own paths.
Since supplies of both are limited, it’s best to understand when to use them. You can also find them for sale at shops that randomly appear on each floor, but don’t rely on that happening.
Bombs explode, destroying most everything around them and killing anything in their blast radius. Bombs are a great tool for creating shortcuts, freeing up hidden currency stuck in the ground, and taking out pesky enemies.
They explode after a short timer, so getting the right placement is key. If you crouch and hit the bomb button, you’ll do a short toss and drop it near where you are. Pressing a direction and the bomb button will launch it in that direction.
You should take care when using bombs, but you should exercise extra caution when using them to make a path to reach a pet. Bombs kill pets.
Ropes launch upward from where you’re standing and allow you to climb them.
Use ropes to pull yourself out of a dead end, which may appear if you’re using bombs.
Ropes are also useful if you’re trying to reach a better vantage point and avoid a trap by going above it. You can also place a rope above a long drop to make a safe way down (as we do in the video above).
After you launch a rope, it takes a moment for it to catch and unfurl. You can’t instantly save yourself by tossing one while falling. However, if you set one up while jumping across a gap, you can then use it to climb down (as we also do above).
Always hold something
In Spelunky 2, there’s very little standing between you and death. On offense, your whip is slow and has terrible range. However, each level is littered with objects — even the dead bodies of foes — that you can take advantage of.
Whether you choose to use throwable objects defensively or offensively, always hold onto something that you can toss.
To pick up any item, crouch down and press the interact button. You can hold onto small objects like rocks, skulls, and pots indefinitely.
You can jump on or hit some enemies with your whip and temporarily knock them out. When they’re incapacitated, they’ll have a little chicks swirling over their head. In this state, you can pick them up and throw them. If they wake up, you’ll take damage. If an enemy takes too much damage, they’ll be permanently knocked out, and you can hang onto them as long as you like.
An item you’re holding also serves as a shield. For instance, if you’re holding an enemy and an arrow trap shoots at you, it will hit what you’re holding instead of you you.
Throwables are great for purposefully triggering traps and taking out enemies at a distance. You don’t have a lot of defensive or offensive options in Spelunky 2, but having an object to toss greatly increases your chances of survival.
Always look ahead (or down)
One of the easiest ways to end a run is by jumping down a hole, sight unseen, and ricocheting off several enemies and hazards. Imagine making your way to a lower level without taking precautions and instantly ending a run by falling into a pit of spikes.
To avoid this headache, always look before you leap. Never move forward or jump to a lower area without knowing what’s ahead of you. Always be mindful of traps and enemies.
When getting ready to jump to a lower level, crouch down to look ahead. Do it long enough, and your camera will dip down and give you a preview of what’s below you. From there, you can safely make a plan for what’s next.
Get that first shortcut open
You’ll have to survive many levels to make it to the end of Spelunky 2. However, you don’t have to do them all in a single run. If you complete the first four stages of the first area, you’ll have the chance to create a shortcut.
To create shortcuts, reach the final floor of a certain level multiple times while also meeting several requirements, like bringing a certain amount of cash or bombs. After meeting each requirement, a fast travel option will open up in the starting area that lets you head directly to the last shortcut you unlocked.
Unlocking the first shortcut requires making it to the end of level 1-4 three times. The first time you make it there, you’ll need to bring $2,000. The next time, you’ll need to bring a single bomb. To complete the shortcut, you’ll need a whopping $10,000 on your last visit.
There are three shortcuts to unlock in Spelunky 2, with one appearing at the end of the first area, the third area, and the fifth area.
Seriously, try co-op
The original Spelunky supported co-op, but the sequel supports online co-op, which makes teaming up a lot easier. While playing in co-op requires a fair bit of coordination, it actually makes the game much easier because of the way it handles death.
When one of the co-op players dies, they become a ghost that can float around and blow puffs of wind to knock objects off ledges. They can also charge up a wind attack to unleash an ice beam blast, which can be tremendously helpful to the still-living player.
You can also revive ghost players if you find a coffin. While this will bring them back, they’ll have very little in the way of gear, so sometimes it’s best to just leave someone as a helpful ghost.
Jabra announces noise-canceling Elite 85t earbuds, ANC firmware update for 75t
Less than a year after launching the Elite 75t true wireless earbuds, Jabra is already announcing its next pair — and the company’s first earbuds to ship with active noise cancellation. The $229 Elite Active 85t look pretty much identical to their predecessors but feature a few tweaks for improved comfort. And the ear tips are more oval-shaped than before, which the company says makes for a better seal.
Jabra has built a dedicated ANC chip into the 85t earbuds, and you can choose your preferred amount of noise cancellation between five different levels using sliders in the companion smartphone app. (HearThrough, or the amount of outside noise that gets piped in, is also adjustable in the same way.) The Elite 85t have a six-microphone array for voice calls — four mics are used for the noise canceling feature — and 12-millimeter drivers “for big sound and powerful bass.” Jabra says the “semi-open design” allows for natural audio passthrough when you want it.
Going semi-open isn’t a small change for Jabra; the 75t and 65t were both a closed design, but now the company is trying to avoid the “earplug effect” that some people find uncomfortable. Battery life is rated at up to 5.5 hours of continuous listening with ANC on, which extends to 25 hours with the case (and 31 hours with the case if ANC is off). The Elite 85t earbuds support wireless charging and are rated IPX4 for water and sweat resistance. Preorders start next month, and they’ll ship sometime in November. A titanium / black color will be available at launch, with other colors following in January 2021.
But here’s a pleasant surprise: Jabra also plans to bring noise cancellation to existing Elite 75t and Elite Active 75t earbuds through a firmware update in October. This is possible because of the company’s engineering work with Qualcomm. Jabra describes the ANC that the 75t will get as a “standard” version meant to reduce and eliminate low-frequency noises around you; the 85t will apparently do a more comprehensive job since those buds include the dedicated chip for noise cancellation.
Still, getting a feature like this after the fact is pretty nice. Jabra says if you buy the Elite 75t or Elite Active 75t in October, they’ll be shipping with the ANC update by that point. But existing owners can install the over-the-air firmware update to add noise cancellation. Battery life does take a hit if you enable it, dropping from 7.5 hours of straight listening to 5.5 hours with ANC switched on.
Fitbit Sense review: Basic smartwatch, robust health tracker
Blood oxygen is a nice metric to keep an eye on, but it’s only really useful in detecting anomalies that could signal other underlying health issues. Since I didn’t have an irregularity during my review window, I can’t vouch for the long-term performance, but knowing it’s there offers some peace of mind.
Compared to Apple and Samsung, which track your SpO2 when you launch the tool, Fitbit will only monitor your blood oxygen levels when you’re asleep. A company spokesperson said this is because the Sense takes five minutes to measure your SpO2, and no one wants to sit still that long. Plus, the company said nighttime is when your body is most likely to show variations from your baseline levels, and that your blood oxygen doesn’t tend to change much during the day.
Fitbit adopts a similar philosophy with the new skin temperature tracking. You’ll need to have worn the Sense to bed for three nights before the watch can deliver reports on your baseline temperature as well as variations. If you want to continue to track your skin temperature after getting the baseline reading, you’ll have to keep wearing the Sense to bed, which could be annoying for some people (myself included).
If you do, though, the Sense has the potential to help catch when you have a fever, as well as detect the start of a menstrual cycle. After my third night, Fitbit reported no overall changes, which isn’t surprising since it’s the first result. (You’ll need the three evenings of data before it delivers the first report.) While it doesn’t give you a reading of your actual skin temperature, the Sense can tell you how it fluctuated as you slept, and it was interesting to see how I grew warmer as I fell deeper into sleep, then cooler again. Though this data isn’t immediately useful, I could see it alerting me to the onset of fever or an illness.
Heart rate, workouts and sleep tracking
Thankfully, you don’t have to be asleep for the Sense to monitor your heart rate. It constantly keeps an eye on your pulse to warn you of any irregularities, similar to other Fitbit products, and the Apple Watch, too. The device makes use of Fitbit’s new heart rate sensor and algorithm to see if your pulse is too high or low, based on your age and resting heart rate. Again, my heart rate hasn’t fallen outside what Fitbit determined to be my normal range, but this could help someone detect potentially fatal conditions.
The constant heart-rate monitoring also helps Fitbit better understand what sleep zones you’re in, making it a more insightful bedtime tracker than Apple’s devices with watchOS 7. The latter only tells you how long you were asleep based on your movement, while Fitbit will use your pulse to figure out if you’re in REM or deep sleep, for example. The Galaxy Watch 3 also does this and I’ve found it to offer similar data to the Sense, though Fitbit’s watch is slightly more comfortable to wear to bed.
Apart from keeping tabs on your health, the Sense can also help with your workouts. Its built-in GPS accurately measures your runs, walks, hikes or bike rides without your phone, and reports your distance and pace after you’re done. It took about 40 seconds for the Sense to lock onto a signal before my first run, but just 10 seconds when I tried again the next day in an area farther away from scaffolding and skyscrapers. That’s not terrible; in fact, it’s similar to the Galaxy Watch 3. Even so, the Sense lags the Apple Watch Series 5, which barely pauses to connect to GPS. (I was not able to test the Series 6 before this review was published, but as far as we know the GPS sensor on the Apple Watch hasn’t been updated.)
Like other Fitbit watches, the Sense can track a wide variety of activities, like yoga, circuit training, golf, martial arts and tennis. It’ll add up the amount of time you spent in heart-rate zones like fat burning, cardio or peak, then assign you points based on your age and resting pulse rate. These Active Zone Minutes were introduced with the Charge 4 tracker this year, and according to World Health Organization and American Heart Association guidelines, most people should strive to get 150 points a week.
Fitbit will also evaluate your cardio fitness, which is an estimate of your maximum oxygen uptake during intense exercise or VO2Max, and give you a score. While these numbers are mostly useful to athletes, they still provide reassurance that you’re not abnormal.
Fitbit Premium and other smartwatch features
It’s nice that the Sense is able to track so many different health metrics, but if you want to see more information or track your performance over time, you’ll have to spring for Fitbit Premium. It costs $9.99 a month and brings features like seven-day and 30-day trends for heart rate variability, SpO2, breathing rate, skin temperature changes and other metrics. Premium also unlocks the detailed breakdown into what affected your stress score and deeper details into your temperature changes throughout the night, as well as additional workout content and guided meditations.
I’m not a fan of requiring someone who bought your product to pay more each month to access their data, but at least the information Fitbit provides for free is meaningful. I also wish I didn’t have to keep wearing the Sense to bed to get continued reports on my breathing rate, heart rate variability, skin temperature and oxygen saturation.
Most other things about the Sense are typical of a Fitbit smartwatch: You get notifications from your phone when it’s nearby, and you can dictate replies to messages (if you’re using an Android device). You can also control your smart home gadgets with Alexa on your wrist, or play your favorite Spotify playlists and log your calorie or water intake, to name a few examples. I prefer Samsung’s Tizen OS for many of these features, as it generally offers more options, but Fitbit’s OS should be adequate for most people.
Performance and battery life
Fitbit doesn’t share information about the processors in its smartwatches, but whatever they used in the Sense could use an upgrade. The watch takes what feels like forever to launch apps like Today or Spotify. What’s more, the Sense crashed a few times during my first few hours with it. After I learned to be very deliberate with the device, I’ve grown accustomed to the delay, but in general Samsung and Apple watches are faster.
The Sense does beat its main competition on battery life, though — it lasted about two and a half days before hitting 25 percent and warning me (through a phone alert and an email) that it was low on juice. That’s with the always-on display enabled, two nights of sleep tracking plus three brief workouts and one 40-minute yoga session. I expect GPS will also drain the battery, while disabling the always-on display should get you some hours back. That’s better than the Apple Watch Series 6 (based on our experience with the Series 5, since Apple gives similar estimates for both) and the Galaxy Watch 3, which might get you into a second day with always-on screens enabled. But generally they give up after one and a half.
Link in bio: the scrappy startups that power them
If you want to learn more about an influencer, there’s one place you always know to look: that link in bio.
These singular, powerful links blanket the internet through companies like Carrd, Linktree, and Bio.fm. “We see Linktree used on pretty much every social platform… on email signatures and business cards, and then across Medium, and Spotify, and Pinterest, and TikTok, and Twitter,” says Alex Zaccaria, Linktree’s CEO. The service has “just completely replace[d] the mobile website.”
The idea of a “link in bio,” or a link that does it all, has been growing since 2013, but Google Trends show their search history surging this past year. The link in bio was born out of the limitations set by major social networks, like Instagram and TikTok, that prevent users from including clickable links on their posts and only allow for a single link in profiles.
Originally, that one link might point people to a new video, some merch, or a sponsor. But increasingly, it points to a bare-bones website that can send you anywhere: other social accounts, subscription services, or information about a cause.
“There was this huge gap for people who didn’t need all that complexity [of sites like Squarespace], they just needed that first 80-90 percent of the use case, which is: ‘I just need a site with links to all my crap,’” says AJ, the founder and CEO of Carrd, who prefers to go only by his initials.
These companies all offer a micro-website for free, but they come with limitations, like only being able to link to a few places. The idea is to push people to subscribe to a paid product for a monthly fee, giving them access to features like advanced analytics, the ability to add unlimited links, and to get rid of the companies’ branding. The premium memberships are usually cheap, ranging from $19 a year to $10 a month.
Most of these companies’ founders started out with simple ambitions — make it easier to launch a basic website to support their own side hustles. But the past six months have made these services dramatically more popular; the pandemic left millions of people jobless and having to market themselves, and activists began looking for a way to get the word out about resources for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Linktree, maybe the most recognizable name in the link-in-bio space, says it counted 3 million users last November, reached 5 million in May, and is now approaching 8 million. The team saw 80,000 sign-ups over the past three months linked to Black Lives Matter. Carrd now runs 1 million sites. It found especially viral success, AJ says, from the Black Lives Matter movement, and after Kim Kardashian West shared a Carrd website that linked to resources for supporters.
Although the founders of these companies clearly saw a need, they didn’t necessarily expect business to accelerate the way it did — not that anyone necessarily foresaw a 2020 pandemic and how its effects would ripple into the link-in-bio world. AJ and Moe Miller, one of the founders of bio.fm, both started their companies as side projects. AJ says Carrd slowly monopolized his life until it became his full-time job.
“I didn’t set out for it to be a business to pay for my house or pay other people to work on it or anything; it was just literally a side hustle, but then apparently there’s a market for this type of thing, and then it just takes off from there,” AJ says. “It’s like the frog in a boiling pot, like you don’t realize it until you’re like, ‘Oh, crap, it’s 1,000 degrees in here.’”
AJ brought his business partner onto Carrd full-time to help keep the operation running while he codes the product. He also hired one person to help with site moderation if and when he eventually needs to address problematic content. (For now, he only occasionally deals with takedown requests related to copyright.) He’ll need to employ more mods soon, he says.
The tiny teams and limited upfront cash need was only possible because the links market themselves — the service’s name is right in the link — allowing the businesses to grow on their own, says Bio.fm’s Miller. “If you score a couple of influencers, and you’ve got their link on their profile, you basically are covered.”
This is to say, a link-in-bio business can be as hands-off as for Miller, with Bio.fm being a side gig, or as full-time as for Zaccaria, who employs a team of 41 people to keep Linktree running.
Although they’ve all found success in a tough year, their achievements could easily be put at risk. One technical change on any of the platforms, by allowing people to link to various things from their page, could destroy these services, says AJ.
“If Instagram didn’t limit [you to] only one link in your bio then probably none of [our businesses] would exist,” says Miller. “But here we are.”
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