Rick Dangerous Is Spelunky’s Horrible Uncle

By Adam Smith on July 5th, 2012 at 12:00 pm.

Thank all that is good that the incredible idiot is too busy not having any eyes to bother throwing the stick of dynamite that's about to blow his stupid guts out

There’s a great post over at Indiegames.com with a list of “games like Spelunky for people to play, in celebration of its XBLA release”. Weirdly, the original version of Spelunky isn’t on the list. Go play it though because it’s brilliant and free. What jumped out at me was a link to a browser version of my most hated nemesis, Rick Dangerous. My parents bought me the original and its sci-fi sequel when I was but a boy, and because I couldn’t afford any more games I had to watch Rick die over and over again, and pretend to enjoy it. Despicable. And yet I just spent twenty minutes playing. Some startling observations below.

As soon as I heard the music at the beginning I started to weep. I haven’t stopped yet and perhaps I never will.

The screaming sound makes me want to hammer nails into my face. It’s the same sound for everyone, whether valiant robber Rick or a native enjoying a stroll, they all die the same way. WAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH and a kind of shit swandive off the screen. Sometimes one of Rick’s giant bullets ends a native’s existence and then the behatted little bastard falls onto some spikes seconds later. The screams overlay – WAAAAWWAAAAAAAHHHH. My hand reaches for the toolbox.

This is the only way to complete the game

If this sadistic series of unpredictable and sudden demises were to reveal its musical self, following Julian Benson’s transcription of Braid, it would be the sound of an angry baby hitting a Fisher Price keyboard with a mallet. BONG BONG BING BONG BLAM.

Rick’s hat looks like a bum when he’s climbing ladders.

I barely remember any of the rooms. It’s a game that forces memorisation and yet it’s totally forgettable. Except for how horrible it is. You’ll remember that for the rest of your life.

Spelunky is great. You should play Spelunky.

Don’t click this link. Don’t play Rick Dangerous.

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52 Comments »

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  1. Hisui says:

    My early childhood was spent playing with action figures that my mom stitched me Vault Dweller/Chosen One jumpsuits for (bless you, mom), pretending to play video games on a PC set drawn entirely on many pieces of paper and writing really shitty Fallout/Rick Dangerous/Manic Miner crossover fanfiction in journal form. Playing this again finally gives me a chance to get rid of them nostalgia goggles.

  2. rocketman71 says:

    Horrible uncle?. The hell it is. Rick Dangerous was fucking fantastic.

    And I’m NOT gonna play it again, I LOVE my rose tinted glasses, thank you very much.

    • sophof says:

      Amen.

      On both counts, I don’t dare to spoil my memories with reality thank you very much.

      • MadTinkerer says:

        I dunno. Having gone tragically Amiga-less my entire life, and only just tried it for the first time a minute ago, I think Rick Dangerous is all right.

        Not as good as Wyv and Keep, but all right. ;)

    • Bhazor says:

      I played it for the first time when Limbo (Kieron: “IT’S RICK DANGEROUS FOR GOTHS”) came out. It’s brilliant. Has the same hilarious sadism as I Wanna Be The Guy.

      Worth pointing out there is an infinite lives cheat mentioned in the instructions. Just press home.

    • Dukkha says:

      I loved Rick Dangerous and totaly agree with you. No need to ruin those memories.

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      Henke says:

      Seconded. Loved Rick Dangerous back then. The fact that you could fire a gun AND drop bombs really blew my mind back when I first played it. And you could CRAWL! That was unprecedented. Sure there were games that let you walk crouched, but crawling? That was something new. And the environmental hazards were more than the old stompy things you had to time carefully to run through that every other game offered. And ofcourse there’s the little film that plays as the game begins. A LITTLE FILM! In a computer game! What will they think of next!

      Replaying it now I can see how horribly trial and error-ish it is. But apart from that it’s held up remarkably well. The controls are as tight as ever.

    • Quarex says:

      Rick Dangerous is one of those elusive MS-DOS games that was so hard and unforgiving that I did not make it past the second screen. I think only Dragon Lord and D.R.A.G.O.N. Force, wow I just now noticed the title similarity, were more challenging to start/enjoy.

    • ActionFlash says:

      I hated this game as a kid! I must have been 10 and it was just too hard (I’ve never been great at platform games). I remember just playing the first few screens over and over and over! No rose tinted glasses here, just had a quick play of the flash version and it’s exactly how I remember it.

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    Lambchops says:

    Yes, you should play Spelunky.

    Also to amuse yourself you should say SPEL-UNK-AAY out loud, in the manner of Austin Powers saying “Groovy!” Go on, it’ll brighten up your day (even if it does make you look somewhat like a nutter).

  4. Lobotomist says:

    So … we meet again.

    Maybe this time i will not die horribly 20 000 times >:(

    … Seriously Rick Dangerous. Just shows how you can make character control perfectly with just one button joystick… What a classic :)

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    DrScuttles says:

    Rick Dangerous was a sadistic bastard.
    Well, the game was. I suppose the character was more of a masochistic bastard.

  6. Premium User Badge

    RobF says:

    Rick Dangerous is just shit. Hateful, hateful shit. May it burn and die many deaths.

    • Jay says:

      Poissbly the definitive example of just how much shit you can get away if if your game looks charming and controls nicely. It had almost everything going for it bar the level design, but boy, that level design…

      • Richeh says:

        Which is a bit odd, considering the one thing Spelunky doesn’t really have is designed levels. And yet it’s infinitely more playable than Rick F**king Dangerous.

        • Fomorian1988 says:

          Not to mention infinitely more fun.

        • Salt says:

          I’d say that Spelunky does very much have level design. But that design exists in the design of the level pieces and most importantly in the design of the algorithm that assembles them.

          Far too many procedurally generated games assume that they can forget about level design as if the infinite variety of levels will make up for it.

          • Jay says:

            Another factor is that cruel twists of fate in Spleunky are largely just that, whereas in Rick Dangerous a part of you knows that particular trap was put exactly there because they knew there’s no possible way you could have seen it coming. And hateful tricks like the game’s tendency to reverse its own internal logic, where tactics that saved you previously will almost definitely kill you if you try them the next time.

      • Cooper says:

        “Poissbly the definitive example of just how much shit you can get away if if your game looks charming and controls nicely.”

        Limbo, anyone?

  7. The Random One says:

    As soon as I heard the music at the beginning I started to weep. I haven’t stopped yet and perhaps I never will.

    Rock Paper Shotgun: the wussiest site of them all.

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    Jackablade says:

    Well that was certainly some oppressive level design. I remember now why I stopped playing it almost immediately when I was younger.

  9. MOKKA says:

    We had Rick Dangerous 2 on our Amiga and I loved it to death. Probably because we had a ‘hacked’ version of it where you had unlimited lives and ammo.

    • mangrove says:

      Hah, yes ! “Press ‘T’ for Trainer.”

      Only way I got through a number of ST games, Ikari Warriors, Toki, and many more I’m sure.

      Now I feel an overwhelming desire to listen to some Pompey Pirates cracktros on youtube :)

      • BellisBlueday says:

        I still remember the load screen for the one with Rick Dangerous 2 – back to the future! and iirc an eagle carrying a keyboard over an american football game? I can’t find a picture … I may be imagining it :D

  10. Fomorian1988 says:

    Oh GOD this game sucks. It sucks the s***rings out of my toilet (copyright by Spoony). Spelunky is difficult, but it demands caution and precision, not dumb luck.

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      RobF says:

      It’s not even luck, it’s memorisation. There isn’t even much logic between screens, it’s entirely a game of guess what shit the designer is going to throw at you next.

  11. Shooop says:

    The hit detection on that Rick game is nothing short of atrocious. It’s like he’s spitting in the face of physics to make some of the space around him count as his body as well so things don’t actually have to even physically touch him to kill him.

    Amazing how the foggy lenses of nostalgia can make even absolute shit seem good for some people.

  12. Cooper says:

    Why all this bile against Rick Dangerous, but none against it’s cousin Limbo.

    “It’s not even luck, it’s memorisation. There isn’t even much logic between screens, it’s entirely a game of guess what shit the designer is going to throw at you next.”

    Is -exactly- what Limbo is. Fuck Risk Dangerous, Fuck Limbo.

  13. Ergates_Antius says:

    I liked Rick Dangerous back in the days. It was hard, unfair and a matter of just memorising all the levels, but I still liked it.

    Nostalgia and rose-tinted glasses has nothing to do with it – I wouldn’t have the patience to play it today, but that doesn’t change the past.

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    Hodge says:

    “It’s a game that forces memorisation and yet it’s totally forgettable.”

    That’s the best description of Rick Dangerous that I’ve ever heard.

  15. MistyMike says:

    I’ve played this a lot on the Atari ST as a wee lad. Each time the ‘waaaaaagh’ happened my parents would laugh at me! I stormed out of the room crying at at least one occasion.

  16. dudesaidwot says:

    You modern kids with your Amigas.. in my day we played Spelunker on the C64 after waiting 30 minutes for the cassette to load.

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      DrScuttles says:

      Truly we were spoiled by floppy disks and Workbench’s Speech program (edit: wasn’t it called Say?). I feel so young!

  17. LaundroMat says:

    Infidel(s).

    Rick Dangerous was (and still is) a great game (but granted, only if played on the original hardware, not even the PC ports get it right). Well, great for OCD gamers like me.

    By the way, isn’t Lara Croft Rick’s (step)grandchild? Wasn’t Rick supposed to be the main Tomb Raider character before it was decided gamers would prefer looking at a young woman’s bum instead?

    • MistyMike says:

      Rick is also an early example of an anti-hero protagonist. Just look at him at the top image. He’s clearly a ruthless grave robber who kills natives remorselessly to steal their gold! So he can be seen as a prototype for Nico Bellic. RD was clearly a very ambitious and progressive title when it comes to interactive storytelling, whith it’s theme of moral ambiguity.

  18. Crusoe says:

    Great post, Adam!

  19. jwfiore says:

    DEREK YU DEREK YU DEREK YU no wait a second

  20. Maxheadroom says:

    God stories like this make me feel old.

    I was working in a computer shop selling the likes of Rick Dangerous to the likes of your parents when this came out

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    Big Murray says:

    Ah … Rick Dangerous 2. From a time when people thought it was fun to treat your players like bastards.

  22. Geen says:

    Oh god. This game was harder than playing dwarf fortress blind with your toes. Be warned.