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Long read: The beauty and drama of video games and their clouds

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Spelunky 2? In the age of Nex Machina anything is possible

The walls are shifting...

Did you catch it? In amongst the blather and breaking bones of PlayStation's Paris Games Week press splurge? The moment between a father and daughter that wasn't grim, predictable and clumsy? The moment that was simple, gentle, and beautifully observed? The moment that occurred in the Spelunky 2 trailer when an old hero passes his hat on to the next generation and then...?

Let's just think about that for a second: Spelunky 2. It feels so strange to see that logo. It's exciting, of course, because Spelunky is exciting. But it's also completely unexpected, because Spelunky is one of those rare games that is sort of perfect.

And Spelunky is already its own sequel, of course. It's an endless mirror-hall of sequels, a procedural platformer in which, each time you die, the game rebuilds itself around a set of inviolate rules that nonetheless manage to generate surprises, shocks, and set-pieces that seem to challenge you in new ways. It belongs to a small group of games that you suspect would resist sequels, games that seem to say everything that they need to the first time out. I loved Crackdown 2, for example, but even I can admit with the passage of time that it didn't add anything meaningful. Equally I can't imagine a Stranglehold 2 that conjures more excitement than the original, as much as I would love another outing for Inspector Tequila.

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And yet maybe I should be more open-minded. Derek Yu is clearly as close to a genius as video games have. I trust him to return to Spelunky only when the moment is right. And besides, the last few years has proved that even the most peerless of games can get sequels - or spiritual sequels - that find new life in cherished bones. Grow Up is a sequel I didn't think I needed, but in its expansiveness, in its delight in the possibilities of flight and 3D space it has become something radically different to the original game - and just as wonderful. And then there's Nex Machina, of course, the spiritual sequel to perhaps the most unimprovable game of all time - Robotron 2084. With Housemarque in the driving seat, Robotron's procedural chaos collided with the best arcade choreography in the business. The end result is something I'm still trying to get my mind around, and I love it.

So a new hero, a new quest, and the hint, perhaps, of a new setting. I could never resist more Spelunky. And the hope, I think, is not that it will match the impact of the original, but that it will have a different kind of impact altogether. Once again, the walls are shifting...

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