If I were to choose just one game to show that the Atari was
superior to all other machines, Miner 2049er would be it. I would just
leave the game running unattended for it cycles through an
introductory title sequence, accompanied by the music of 'Clementine'
and then gives a demo of how you might clear Station One and a high
The game is a derivative of the arcade game Donkey Kong but is
totally different. Miner requires you to jump confidently and know
where to jump to next because you only have a limited amount of time
to clear each station. The theme is that of a space age miner who must
claim all sections of the framework of each station in a mine. The
mine is patrolled by deadly alien mutants but these can be banished in
PacMan style by picking up an object from the many scattered about and
touching them quickly. When you pick up an object the mutants change
into a harmless vulnerable form but only temporarily so you must be
quick. There are ten stations altogether, each different and each with
their own particular hazards. If you plan your journey carefully, you
do not need to jump over any deadly mutants except on Station Ten
where you are forced to jump them to clear the Station.
Let's go through the various Stations.
STATION ONE - The Mine Shaft. An easy screen to conquer, just get
used to climbing ladders and banishing mutants. There is even one jump
to make to prepare you for the next levels.
STATION TWO - The Slides. A difficult screen for beginners. There
are ladders, jumping and jumping over slides. Going down slides
unnecessarily is the real killer because you can run out of time.
STATION THREE - The Transporters. An easy screen after the last
one, just ladders and the transporters-Ream me up, Scotty! There are
some safe drops you can use to save time.
STATION FOUR - The Lillypads. Another difficult screen. At first
you will have trouble knowing where to go to cover the pads, there are
so many of them. Once you know the directions to take, jumping
practically all the way, you have only one difficult jump to make but
it will really test how far you can jump.
STATION FIVE - Advanced Lillypads. Similar to Station Four with
many pads to cover but with slides at the top. You'll have to tread
and jump carefully to cover them. Finally, there is a moving piece to
land on-best jump for it - to cover the remainder. A word of warning,
there is one object here you can't have.
STATION SIX - The Radioactive Waste. At first this is another
difficult one for having got used to running jumps, you here have to
make standing jumps. There is an all important moving piece to ride on
to cover an isolated part of the screen. Going there is no problem,
it's getting back, the moving piece is so small.
STATION SEVEN - Advanced Transporters. As the instruction book says
'This round has got it all!' Transporters, slides, moving pieces and
lillypads. Mapping out this one is very difficult as there are so many
places to go. Only experience will get you through this one.
STATION EIGHT - The Lift. The first thing you notice is the Lift
dominating the centre of the screen. This is used to access the areas
out of reach. The layout seems simple enough but there are many traps
here-places you can't get out of once you have landed there.
STATION NINE - The Pulverisers. Another easy layout on first sight
but you have to get used to the parked moving pieces-jumping off is
not easy-and going under the pulverisers. There is a safe way to
STATION TEN - The Cannon. You have a giant cannon at your disposal.
To use it you need the correct amount of dynamite to blast you to the
appropriate storey you wish to cover. Storeys 2 and 3 are not too bad
but the first storey is difficult. Here on Station Ten you are forced
to jump the mutants and the major factor against you is time, but once
the different storeys are clear you can confidently gather the
remaining TNT and thereby start Miner all over again but at the next
difficulty level-ZONE 2. There are TEN zones in all!
The really good th-ing about Miner is that it is playable many
times over but you do have to go through all the earlier stations if
you are stuck on a difficult one. You will need the practice anyway to
conquer Station Ten.
Even past Station Ten you will find the game challenging, you can
preselect the more difficult zones 2-10 and see how far you can get on
these. It is possible to get yourself up to Station Ten on Zone 5 but
you do need to change your tactics entirely as the mutants speed up
considerably and they don't remain in a harmless state when you want
to zap them. On Zone 10 it becomes impossible to clear Station Three,
there is no way I know of clearing it!
Jumping has become a part of some of the latest games out - Donkey
Kong, Pharaoh's Curse, Shamus Case II and Jumpman, but Miner 2049er
ranks as the best. Miner is the cleverest, most imaginative game out.
The animation is superb as it uses high resolution graphics and even
the colours of the framework of the mine change. Atari's Mario the
Carpenter in Donkey Kong does not match Bounty Bob in quality.
Bill Hogue founded Big Five and started producing arcade games for
TRS-80 computers. Miner for the Atari was a complete surprise but with
the undoubted success of this game, Big Five is ready to release more
than one new title for its Miner followers. Believe it or not it will
soon be one year since the release of Miner 2049er.
FOOTNOTE: I have since discovered that you can type in Big Five's phone
number during play and then press SHIFT followed by the Station you wish
to go to rather than go through all the Stations. On zone 10 you can only clear
Stations 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 8 so the challenges in this game are always present
even for the experienced player.