Golden Idols are a type of treasure present in all areas of the caves that appear as giant grimacing faces made out of solid gold. They are extremely valuable, but are always guarded by elaborate traps that make them risky to snatch.
Unlike other treasures, you do not get the Idol's monetary value immediately upon touching it - it must be picked up and carried to the level exit, or sold to a Shopkeeper by dropping it in their Shop, as long you aren't 'wanted'.
Idols can also be sacrificed to Kali by placing them upon an Altar. While this will not immediately reward you with any money, it will spawn a Golden Monkey which can potentially earn more money than the idol was worth.
The Golden Idols are one of the more obvious references to the Indiana Jones franchise.
A Golden idol appears in tutorial level 3
As with all treasure, the value of the Golden Idol increases incrementally in each area of the game:
|The Ice Caves:||$15,000|
In The Mines
In the Mines, Golden Idols are found placed on a stone altar underneath a gigantic stone carving. The Idol rooms can not spawn at the bottom of the mines.
Grabbing the Idol causes a brief rumbling before the carving's head explodes, releasing a giant boulder that smashes through the terrain as it rolls.
Boulders may be escaped from by simply descending the cave, or climbing to higher ground at least 3 tiles above the floor (this can be done with the aid of a ladder, a rope or climbing a terrain). If you stay still and duck about two tiles from the side of the stone platform the idol was resting on the boulder will bounce over your head.
If you're standing on top of a platform only two tiles above the floor, note that you can fall on the boulder and get crushed if you don't jump over it as it approaches - and it's a good idea to sprint away from the boulder for a while after you land, in case it rebounds off the edge of the level with enough momentum left to start rolling back towards you.
Unlike the classic version, bombing the platform that it sits on or whipping the idol sets the trap off immediately, instead of disarming it. However, if timed correctly, bombs can be used to counter the boulder's course, stopping it most of the time, as the boulder is affected by explosions.
The boulder can be prevented from falling if the Golden Idol is removed from play before the boulder spawns. This can be done by quickly selling it, sacrificing it or even destroying it (eg. by crushing with a push block) before the rumbling stops. This is not a perfect solution however, as it relies on the Idol generating near enough to somewhere you can get rid of the idol quickly, but this may be the only way of successfully taking the idol without consequence if it spawns next to a Shop or an Altar.
Note that the boulder first rolls to the direction you are; by choosing one side or another you may aim for a wall which will slow the boulder down, or at least for a path with fewer holes, if you want to avoid crushing a Shop or Kali's altar down there.
In the Jungle
Golden Idols in the Jungle are found placed on stone platforms above pools of water. Lifting the Idol will cause this platform to
Should you fall into the pool, you will not be able to get out without using a rope or some climbing gloves. You can also use a bomb if the wall is thin enough, and simply blast your way out of the side.
The trap can be easily escaped by sprinting to either side as soon as you pick up the Idol - just make sure the path is clear before you do.
Restless Dead Levels
In Restless Dead Level feelings, the Golden Idol is replaced with a Crystal Skull. The Crystal Skull is worth $15,000 - three times more valuable than a Golden Idol found in the mines - but the trap that guards them is much deadlier.
Crystal Skulls are found inside a small catacomb enclosed with bricks and a Push Block on either side. There is an undead Skeleton in each of the four corners, and lifting the Crystal Skull itself immediately causes the Ghost to enter.
Golden Idols found in the Ice Caves are placed high up on platforms of thin ice suspended above a platform covered in spikes. With the aid of a cape or a jetpack, collecting these Idols is relatively easy. However, without such means these Idols can be difficult to reach, let alone retrieve safely.
You can use a rope to climb up if the platform is near enough solid ground, or throw a bomb to blast the Idol off the platform, although this will throw the Idol unpredictably, and possibly send it falling into the Abyss.
In the Temple
There are two different Idol traps found in the Temple.Normally, the Idol will be found in a small chamber that appears empty. However, as soon as the Idol is lifted, the doors slide shut and a spiked ceiling slowly descends to crush the Spelunker. Escaping this trap requires a Bomb or a mattock, as there is no way to escape without destroying the walls once the trap is triggered. If a hole is blown in the floor, be aware that spikes will descend through the hole until they hit something solid.
It is also possible to place a push block in the doorway before retrieving the Idol, which prevents the door from closing fully. You can then push the block away and the door will remain half-open, but this obviously requires a conveniently placed push block.
Sacrificial Pit Levels
When you pick up the Idol, the floor beneath it will immediately collapse and drop you into the pit. This is almost always fatal unless you have some way to stop your fall and make your way out of the pit, such as a jetpack, climbing gloves, a cape or a parachute. You may also need some ropes or bombs.
The pit will not collapse when the Damsel is taken, so she must be taken first if you intend to retrieve both. Note that the walls of the pit containing the Damsel and Idol are three tiles high, meaning that you need to prepare for some way to climb back out once you drop onto the lid of the pit.
Using a rope is one way of retrieving the Idol. If you're fast enough, you can grab the rope the instant you take the Idol, preventing you from falling.
Golden Idols found in Hell are generally guarded by a huge number of Spike Ball traps. To retrieve it, you must carefully dodge the spike balls, while attempting to pick it up.
While blowing up the spike balls may sound like a good idea, it can potentially destroy a great portion of terrain, destroying gold, the idol, and even the spelunker.
- The golden Idol counterbalancing a rolling-boulder trap is, of course, a direct reference to the iconic scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark where Indiana Jones retrieves a booby-trapped Idol in an ancient temple.
- A golden idol can be placed on an altar to get a Golden Monkey instead, the amount of treasure you can get from this monkey is worth more in the first areas of the game and is worse in the later areas.
- The Golden Idol is the icon used to represent Spelunky, both on the Classic and HD versions. It is also used as the favicon of Spelunky World and the Spelunky Wiki.
- It is still possible to sell Idols in a Shop even when wanted by dropping one off a ledge or throwing it onto the shop floor without the Shopkeeper noticing you. As long as he isn't attacking yet (Patrolling in an 'on guard' state, but not hopping around or shooting), the idol will be accepted and you will receive payment as usual. This can also be done on top of a Vault.
- If the player is holding an Idol when swallowed by the Worm, the Idol will not be exchanged for money and will be left 'floating' in the level.
- Using bombs or the mattock, it is possible to destroy one of the idol's support blocks without moving the idol. This will leave the idol hanging over an edge, without setting of the associated trap.