While we’ve got some lifelong gamers swooning with nostalgia over the release of Magmic’s Miner 2049er, I was born a year after this one came out, so unless anyone’s got the gonads to bust my chops for not playing the original on a Commodore while in the womb, you’ll to have to forgive my lack of fuzzy-wuzziness.
Miner 2049er is an early 80s game similar to the first Donkey Kong. You control Bounty Bob, a cross between the bassist from Lynyrd Skynyrd and Will Ferrell’s Old Prospector character, and you’ve got to touch every inch of ground on a level whilst keeping an eye on the timer, avoiding enemies, using chutes and ladders, and navigating the environmental dangers of a radioactive mine. Scattered prospecting equipment helps you take care of otherwise invulnerable beasties wandering the area. Magmic’s release includes the old version of the game as well as a fully modernized version, featuring new graphics and levels.
Now, as someone who didn’t really grow up with this style of game, could I still find something like this fun despite being spoiled by contemporary standards? Let me tell you something: I liked the old version better. Movement in the classic mode is quicker, deaths from dropping are more forgiving, and the time limit was less of a pressure. It could be argued that all of that makes for an easier game on the whole, but for someone new to the style, that lee-way is much appreciated. On top of that, I respect that the makeover doesn’t go soft on hardcore fans – in fact, it kicks things up a notch just for them. The new game has a few new tricks that just weren’t around for the first game, such as movable cranes.
This was also my first chance to use the trackball for playing a game on mobile, which was a pretty interesting experience. In order to maintain continual movement, you have to use a steering-wheel style, thumb-over-thumb motion in order to keep the ball rolling. Sure, the keypad’s the usual way of doing things, but that trackball has some serious promise. You know those golf arcade games with the spinny ball in the socket? That was the first thing I thought of when I saw the Pearl. It’s much more fluid moving a ball around then trying to thumb tiny keys with any amount of precision. Magmic’s in a great position to experiment with the trackball as an innovative new control mechanism, and make some games that you really wouldn’t see anywhere else.
Miner 2049er is a great way of reintroducing gameplay that’s been unfairly antiquated to a generation that’s missed out on some good times. Retro is in, folks. 4 Radioactive Pickaxes out of 5.