Spelunky is not a 'pure' roguelike. It is a cross-genre game (also known as a 'Rogue-lite' or 'Roguelike-like') that is partly defined by roguelike elements, but differs from the genre in certain aspects.
Spelunky's roguelike elements include:
- Permanent death — games can't be saved/loaded, and death means you must start from the beginning of the game.
- Procedurally generated levels that are wholly unpredictable.
- Relatively high difficulty, with frequent deaths and short runs.
- It's a dungeon crawl, which takes place by progressing along rigidly defined 'levels' of the cave.
Ways in which Spelunky differs from traditional roguelikes include:
- It's a side-scrolling platformer, rather than a top-down Dungeon Crawl.
- Events are displayed graphically, rather than described by text.
- Gameplay takes place in real time, rather than being turn-based.
- Few RPG elements, limited to hit points and a rudimentary inventory.