Miner 2049er

reviewed by Harvey Kong Tin, Hull


Issue 5

Sep/Oct 83

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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 score table.

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 negotiate them.

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.