Express Train To Hell: Spelunky Speedrun World Record

I inch my way through Spelunky [official site], trying to get a read on the layout of each randomised cavern. Caution doesn’t always breed success and I rarely reach the ice levels, let alone the hellscape beneath. It’s both chastening and invigorating to begin a weary Friday morning by watching a speedrun that sets a new world record – from start to finish in 3:44. The runner is D Tea and he shatters the previous 3:52 record for a true ending. As well as being an impressive feat, like most things Spelunky, it exposes the workings of the various systems – from the fury of shopkeepers to the arrangement of tiles – in fascinating new ways.

Snagging a teleporter so early is a stroke of luck and I shudder to think how many attempts to break the record failed because one of the later levels threw up some dastardly combination. I’ll happily admit that having a teleporter wouldn’t help me at all – I’m more likely to ‘port into harm’s way than out of it. I’m also incapable of dealing with shopkeepers with quite as much confidence and style as D Tea. I am Weak Tea. Cold Tea. The Builder’s Tea right after fragments of plaster and asbestos drop into it.

I was confused by the lack of angry shopkeepers on the later levels but it seems they de-aggro (“chill their beans”) if there’s no violence toward them across three floors. The fact that I didn’t know that shows how weak my Spelunky knowledge actually is.


  1. DrollRemark says:

    Every time I see a Spelunky video where they use a teleporter with such confidence, my mind boggles. I just cannot get the hang of it. I know it’s something like 5-7 squares in whichever direction you try, and it’s as consistent as anything else in the game is, but every time I think I’ve got it I end up in a wall two seconds later.

  2. thekelvingreen says:

    I must admit to being a novice with this game but if the levels are random, how does the player know where to go?

  3. Herzog says:

    Spelunky is such a wonderful game. And these speed runs are insane. Still not as awesome as Quake Done Quick with a Vengeance, but almost.

    By the way, are there speedruns with rules which prohibit the use of the teleporter? While I know it is hard to use (I also die everytime I use it), I think I would prefer watching speedruns without the use of the teleporter.

    • Jaffa says:

      There are many categories for speedruns including low% which doesn’t allow using any items like the teleporter. Look to for all the categories.

      There are many great speedrunners, of which some are streaming on twitch occasionally. Be sure to check out the exciting grind of thousands of resets waiting for a seed like this wr one.

  4. Wowbagger says:

    The location of the black market was also extremely lucky.

    I love how he double bombs olmec before he stomps to speed it up, that is some l33t skills.

    • blind_boy_grunt says:

      The black market find makes me suspect getting this record took a whole lot longer than just playing for a good shop. With enough practice you might be able to spot the blackmarket reliably, but you still have to look at the level to find it, which he couldn’t really do. That whole part seems more like cycling through a busy intersection with your eyes closed and hoping for the best (of course all the luck wouldn’t help if he wasn’t that skilled).

    • Razumen says:

      The entrance only appears in 3-2 and 3-3, so since it wasn’t in 3-2 he knew it was there. Though I didn’t know it was always in the same spot in the level

  5. Jams O'Donnell says:

    Yesterday, after yet another instant death the second I got to the Temple, I vowed to get the tunnel opened so I could practice that section. I didn’t expect to be successful any time soon, but actually managed it on the train this morning (I play it on my Vita — portable Spelunky is a lovely thing).

    Now I don’t have to slog though the whole game to get instantly killed when I get to the temple — I can get instantly killed there straight away!

    • Lone Gunman says:

      I never used shortcuts. I enjoyed the build up of items too much.

    • Lone Gunman says:

      Plus after a while it all becomes about getting to hell :)

  6. Synesthesia says:

    I barely made it past the jungle, and that is playing coop. How the hell did he know where the entrance to the secret shop was?

    And what was that funny business with the ankh?

    • Lone Gunman says:


      You need to pick up the Udjat Eye from the chest and key combo on a random level in the first area (caves). The Eye blinks and makes a noise when you are near the entrance to the black market which is on a random jungle level. Then you buy the ankh from the black market. With the Ankh of Resurrection you kill yourself on an ice world level that contains the impenetrable Moi Head. You repsawn inside the head and you get the Hedjet. Then in the fist level of the temple area you have ot kill Anubis to get the golden staff. With the staff and the Hedjet you can open the door to the city of gold on another temple level. Once inside the city of gold you have to grave rob the Book of the Dead (Anubis II will rise at this point). Once you got the book head to the Olmec boss level. The book of the dead animates when you are stood above the entrance to hell. Make Olmec smash down to the entrance of hell and use his head to gain entrance before he sinks in the lava. Then go through hell levels and defeat King Yama.

      I played the original and pieced together how to get the city of gold bit by bit though trial and error and word of mouth from my friends or internet commenters. It’s like a form of folk lore, disjointed tales get mashed together by word of mouth. Until you have completed the whole tale it still feels like you are embarking on an adventure of legend. To see if it is true. Like Jason trying to find the golden fleece. Indiana Jones searching for the Holy Grail. Or some other quest.

      The above is why I fucking love Spelunky.

      • Scobles says:

        You can reach the Black Market without the Udjat Eye (I don’t think D Tea picked one up), you just have to watch out for a certain leaf pattern protruding from the rock. Much easier to find with the Eye though.

        • Lone Gunman says:

          True but it is not very reliable!

          The first time I stumbled on the black market in the original version was by accident. I just placed a bomb to get something else, probably a crate, and this mysterious entrance appeared!

          • Razumen says:

            Apparently the entrance only appears on 3-2 or 3-3, so that helped the speedrunner find it as well.

  7. anHorse says:

    I’ve still not got beyond the first level of the ice caves

    Annoyingly I often know what I’ve done wrong but can’t work out why I let myself do it

    • pepperfez says:

      Ah, the joy of the roguelike.

      • pepperfez says:

        Getting better at roguelikes is like treating a behavioral disorder. “I know this thing hurts me, WHY CAN’T I STOP DOING IT?”

  8. Stinkfinger75 says:

    Just curious, why do players keep going in and out of the same door when the levels transition?

    • Razumen says:

      They’re just skipping the transition, it just looks like it because of that.

  9. therighttoarmbears says:

    Wow, that was breath-taking! My thoughts while watching this video, roughly in order:
    – OK, whoever this is is going to be a complete master, I can’t let myself get bummed out watching this (pre-watch)
    – Wow, that’s how you handle shopkeepers?
    – WOW, that teleporter sure looks powerful the way this guy is using it! Apparently it’s not a suicide device…
    – Oh gosh, this person is really good with that jetpack and teleporter, and apparently those are really nice together…
    – Man, that strategy looks awesome for getting all the stuffs out of the black market…
    – Is this video jittery for a reason?
    – Throwing bombs at the bottom of Olmec is an awesome trick!
    – THERE’S SOMETHING AFTER OLMEC? (I’ve never beaten Olmec)
    – (and then in very rapid succession): What the heck is happening here – why do you feel nauseated – those doors look sharp – what is that pug thing – oh wow there are a lot of things in there – oh wow this person is fast – who is that seated boss guy – I wonder what he does – that’s a lot of bombs to the face – wait what – THIS GAME IS AWESOME – I am humbled

    • Razumen says:

      Great thing about Spelunky is that that video doesn’t even show all the content you can run into.