Derek Yu (He's the one on the right, by the way).
"What a nice chap", you're probably thinking, "He certainly looks very happy, which in this cynical age is very refreshing. Hurray for him. And blimey, hasn't she got a tiny head? And is that Woody Allen in that picture?"
But I beg you to desist and hold back your hurrays. For Derek Yu is smiling for one sinister reason in this picture, and one sinister reason alone. If you're a gamer, he's looking for a way to destroy your life and royally fuck you over. Derek Yu hates you.
One day, perhaps, in a scenario playing out in my head right now, Derek Yu was watching a friend play Demons Souls on the PS3. "Crikey", he thought, "Thats a bit difficult. I'm surprised that this is selling." and he went away, thinking no more of it.
And then a few years later (again, only in a fictional scenario that exists solely in my head) he was watching the same friend play Dark Souls on an xbox 360 and thought, "Crikey! (which is the favourite expression of surprise of the imaginary Derek Yu in my head) This is even more difficult than Demons Souls, and that was next to impossible. Why would anybody play a game like that?" - and once again, he went away, thinking no more of it.
Not on a concious level, at any rate. The subconscious of Derek Yu was hard at work, mentally constructing a game that would be harder than Chuck Norris in a Viagra factory - and from this evil seed, Spelunky was unleashed upon the world.
The concept is straight forward enough.You play a treasure hunting Indiana Jones type character in an old-school side scrolling platform game, armed only with a whip. Standing between you and the ultimate treasure at the end of the game are snakes, spiders, tribesmen, scorpions, killer wasps, poisonous explosive frogs, yetis, mummies, flying saucers (?!), spike pits and much more.
Every single thing in the game wants you dead, and you will die. A lot.
The corpse of a poisonous frog will explode, sending you flying across the map until your fall is halted by a spike pit. A chain reaction of explosions will disintegrate the ceiling above your head, causing a large stone block to crush you. The ground will collapse under you and you'll fall to your death, breaking every bone in your body. You'll end up at the bottom of a ridiculously deep chasm without the means of getting back out, and you'll be forced to quit.
And with your one life gone, you'll go back to the very start of the game. And I guarantee that you'll click 'Start new game' and play again. And again. And again.
And the primary reason you'll do this is that your death was entirely your fault, and you'll swear you won't get caught out like that again. And as all of the levels are entirely randomly and procedurally generated, you'll never be confronted by the same map and same combination of enemies ever again.
Little by little you will make progress. The mysterious Tunnel Man is one of your only allies, and in return for gifts (the bombs or ropes you own, or the treasure you've found) he'll dig a tunnel to the next level so you have a shortcut straight there.
"But this doesn't mean that Derek Yu hates mankind", you cry, "merely that he's crafted an entertaining and charming videogame with a high level of difficulty."
No, it doesn't. What convinces me that Derek Yu hates mankind is that I'm nearing the games end and would like Tunnel Man to make me a shortcut. Which he will do, provided I bring him a Gold key. A gold key that only exists in the very first level, for which I'll need to go back to the start of the game and carry it - without dying once, remember - through every single level all the way to him. When even surviving to the end of a single level is a miracle in itself.
Fuck you, Derek Yu.
..but I can do it next time, right? One more go... I can do it...
Spelunky is available on Xbox live marketplace for 1200 Microsoft points you'll never regret spending - or available as a huge demo for free on the PC from Spelunky World. Try it out - I want other people to swear as much as I have over the last fortnight.