Meet Spelunker, one of Japan's most treasured bad games

February 22, 2021 1 min read

While the phenomenon of appreciating bad games exists everywhere in the world, perhaps no player base is as conscious of it as those in Japan. Unlike us, they have a very concise word for describing terrible games: kusoge. That’s "kuso," meaning crap, and "ge," as in geemu or game. Crap game, see?

Perhaps the most infamous, and sometimes believed to be the original recipient of that title, is the Famicom/NES port of Spelunker. For some reason, Spelunker sold decently well, but its reputation for being unreasonably difficult spread to the point of it becoming a cultural phenomenon in Japan. The main character’s frailty even found its way into a turn of phrase, “spelunker taishitsu,” or spelunker’s constitution, which is commonly applied to athletes who are frequently or easily injured. I bet you didn’t realize you’d be getting a Japanese lesson here.

Meet Spelunker, one of Japan's most treasured bad games screenshot

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