Mega Miner


JoshC MegaMiner'Dig' is a beautiful and multi-faceted word. When hip cats think something is cool, they dig it. When monocled archeologists excavate dinosaur bones, that's a dig. And when an upgradable drill-bot travels through a vast expanse of dirt in search of precious gems and metals, that too is digging.

Mega Miner, brought to us by the team at Alistair Maunder (allilm), educates us on this third definition with an eerily precise representation of the term. Bringing to mind other classics like Motherload, Mega Miner is a mining simulation game that's all about repeated trips to the underground that challenge you to balance your fuel levels and item capacity for maximum efficiency, all so you can make your drill-bot the best it can be. For some reason, this is INSANELY ADDICTIVE. Hours will disappear.

You control the little fella with the [arrow] keys or [WASD] and interact with [spacebar], though menus are mouse-guided. These menus are where your machine gets the real juicy upgrades and items, and therefore where the real strategy of the game comes into play. Do you want to focus on fuel capacity, or rely on your teleporter and spend more money on item space?

There's no day limit or score counter, so the game relies on your compulsive need to make your machine the best ever to drive gameplay, and it works pretty well. There are also bonus missions, such as special items to find and goals to reach, that will give you a much needed boost of cash and send you closer to the drill of your dreams. There's no real end to anything, and it's pretty hard to die, so it's more a way to pass the time than something to win or defeat.

There are a couple things that could have improved it, like an upgrade to the drill-bots vision range or movement speed, as digging through the giant map searching for a single item can be very time-consuming and frustrating. As it is, it's relaxing but kind of repetitive, so an option with something more at stake would have been welcome. I'd be interested to see something with enemies or daily goals to achieve, something that's a little more than dig, upgrade, rinse, repeat. Also, if it kept track of how many trips you took or how much of the map you've revealed, there might be a little more sense of achievement.

That said, it's still more than worth a play, especially if you have a lot of extra time on your hands. And I mean a lot. There's something wildly addictive about unearthing gems, and let me tell you, one hip cat to another, I dig it. Can you dig it?

Play Mega Miner

29 Comments

I don't understand why such a relatively simple looking game runs so slowly in my browser. So slow I really couldn't play it.

[What browser/OS are you using? Chrome seems to give the best performance for Flash games, so you might want to try that browser if you haven't already. Also, try closing any other browser tabs you may have open. -Jay]

I'm kind of torn about this one. I know that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, but this game seems to be an almost clone of Motherlode. There are some significant differences between them though (the paid version of Motherlode may have some of these, but not the free version):

  • Gathering achievements: Mega Miner. None on Motherlode.

  • Fog: Mega Miner. I like that you can't see the whole screen without actually exploring it, and the sonar device helps out mid-game.

  • Exploration achievements: Mega Miner. None on Motherlode. I would like to see a true "status" on the exploration achievements, rather than just "0/1", but the bonus money helps regardless.

  • Logical, efficient upgrades: Edge to Motherlode. Some of the upgrades in Mega Miner don't seem to pay for themselves, and are priced WAY too high.

  • Boss: Motherlode. There may be a boss in Mega Miner, but I haven't found it yet.

  • Slick, polished interface: Motherlode, hands down. While the fold out map and inventory in Mega Miner is nice, the operation can be a bit confusing. For instance, "I" opens the inventory, but doesn't close it. The hotkeys in Motherlode more than make up for it.

  • Slightly humorous storyline: Motherlode. Mega Miner didn't include any real storyline, much less gentle attempts at humor.

Motherlode wins by a hair on my scorecard. I'd like to see some of the achievements included in Motherlode (and they may be included in the pay version)...but both of them are incredibly addicting, and I spent 4 hours last night playing Mega Miner!

Overall, 4/5.

CrankYanker-

Nice analysis. I concur with many of your conclusions. A few additional thoughts:

Movement: Motherlode, by a long shot. I like the smooth flying, gravity effects, and the limitation on digging upwards that requires additional strategy.

No Earthquakes: Mega Miner. I just had to stop playing Motherlode because of the ridiculous earthquakes which essentially mean you have to start digging an entirely new tunnel. That was a feature that did NOT make Motherlode a better game. Its absence here is a big plus for me.

Graphics: Motherlode. Bizarrely, given the vintage of the two games, Motherlode easily wins this one - the graphics here are pretty basic. I'm particularly struck by the fact that the tunnels you have dug look exactly like the terrain obscured by the fog.

Overall, I'm thrilled that someone took the time to create a clone of Motherlode which got rid of the earthquakes. I like the achievements (so far) but the movement and graphics factor make me miss the play of ML. I'll continue playing with this one, though!

@JIGuest: Earthquakes - I'm torn about these. I guess what I'm planning on is clearing the entire board, because my slight OCD demands it. I've got it cleared down to 250 meters, from side to side, and I've got the bottom cleared out for about the bottom 100 meters. I wouldn't be able to clear out everything on ML, because of the periodic earthquakes. I don't know if the quakes are time or percentage based, but when I get a good pattern going... *boom* - all gone. That's a bit frustrating, but only in an OCD way. As a related topic, between the fog, the lack of earthquakes, and the treasure specific achievements, I think that's the big saving grace for MM. That combination of factors makes me want to clear out the entire screen, and I'll probably keep playing until that's done (because I HAVE to get all the achievements)!

About the bottom -

It's at 1215 meters.

About the boss -

If there is one, he's not hidden at the bottom of the screen like ML.

It's a good game! Very addicting. But I lost interest after..

.. I reached the bottom.

Because it's the exploration aspect that draws me to this kind of game, administration is just the challenge spice.

I wish I could use the keyboard on the upgrade screen. The rest of the game is two-hands-on-keyboard, so it doesn't make sense to use the mouse there.

this is back breaking work.

The return of mining is too low for the upgrades. 15-20 rounds are needed to upgrade ONE equipment for ONE level.

And there is no reason to keep the speed of the truck(?) that slow.

The upgrade system is out of whack. I found myself needing upgrade 4 cooling while I was still on upgrade 2 everything else. I finished the game still on fuel and cargo upgrade 2, only upgrading fuel to 4 so that I could get the 25% clear achievement slightly faster.

In general, I think there needed to be 2-3 more types of resources, and corresponding depth for them.

I liked the concept of the gems and whatnot being specific objectives that were mid-depth, but the fact that you didn't get any cash for having fewer than all of the gems or treasures meant that they ended up being end-game grinding instead.

Altogether a fun distraction, and a pleasant reminder of the hours I spent on Motherlode.

The Teleporter description is misleading, it's a free gateway from where you put it down to the surface infinitely. Set your Beacon about as deep as you can handle, then dig horizontally and you'll see much better returns than going down from the surface each time.

It'd be really cool if there were actually some variation in the market prices for the various ores as the game went on, make it a strategic decision whether I want to sell today or save back some of my cargo in hopes of a higher payout tomorrow.

This game is inferior to Motherlode in every way, and it came out at least 6 years later. Motherlode had both depth achievements and "find a special item" achievements -- they just weren't called as such. Achievements don't really contribute much to a game, anyway.

The graphics are mediocre, the upgrades are gratuitously overpriced, the value of the minerals doesn't increase fast enough with depth, and the mechanic's shop is glitchy. All of those have been mentioned before, and are trivial compared to Mega Miner's big failing:

The pacing of the game, the total lack of a physics engine, the way fuel is "spent", and the upgrade structure ensures that there's no drama. Ever. I've played Motherlode plenty of times, and there's always a temptation to push your fuel to the edge. On -many- occasions, I've pulled up to the fueling station with a couple of pixels worth of fuel in my tank, not entirely sure if I was going to make it in time. There was suspense in Motherlode because your fuel behaved more like a timer, and always lagged behind your other upgrades. It was -very- hard to fill your hold before your fuel ran out, and even if you did, you'd probably be able to afford a bigger cargo hold for your next trip.

The lack of a physics engine now means there's no strategy -- you can drill upwards, and you can't fall down your mineshaft. The minerals you recover have no mass, so you don't need to worry about slowing yourself down on the ascent. It makes mining so cut and dried -- all you need to do is drill towards whatever minerals you can see, and then bring them back to the surface. There's no real push to find the more valuable minerals, because they're not worth much more that what you're currently recovering. So, you just monotonously dig, dig, dig.

I'd normally give this a 2/5, but since the author didn't mention or credit Motherlode at all, it gets a 1/5.

I'd like to boil the discussion down to a simple point: this "balancing" of this game makes demand much more grinding than a game with such little extra appeal should demand.

XGen Studios' offering had much more atmosphere which generated much more pressure and welcome distraction from the grinding that did exist. Make no mistake, these kinds of games have unavoidable grinding built into them. But by placing a larger frame and goal around their little grinding game, XGen was able to create a compelling experience that all of you that bring up the comparison had to have felt.

Mega Miner offers an experience that does little to recommend itself. Those who are good at creating challenges for themselves (or are content with in-game achievements) will be able to amuse themselves with this. Few others will get much else out of it.

And on earthquakes (I promise this will be brief, since we should be spending more time on the content present in the game at hand), while it was an aggravating mechanic, one incredibly useful thing it did do was RESET RESOURCES.

Think about it.

For me, I was LOVING the game until

The "end". The lack of one, that is. I finished the last achievement, and nothing happened! Nothing special, at least. Just got a nice little message about completing the achievement. And then you're just kind of left to wander around and mine what's left. Even if it was just something like "Game Complete" appearing on the screen, it makes me feel like I'm missing something with the lack of indication towards being done.

it would be better if you collapse destroy the buildings by destroying the foundation

I think that is a good game 3.5/5, and it is very addicting, i dug to the very bottom which is at 1215 metres and i mined every gem. i have also completed most achievements such as buried treasure and the lost king [the lost kings remains are at 1160 metres for me i am not sure if it is different for you.

And a good tip would be to buy about 5 teleporters and set them at about every 250 metres.

Well that is about it, bye and i hope that you fing this info usefulkl. :]

jay, i don't know what you guys are doing, but something about the way you embed the games makes it totally not work.

Doesn't take keyboard focus when you click on it. You can clik on it as many times as you like and it still scrolls the page with the arrow keys, and the game doesn't take the input.

Latest version of Chrome (12.0.742.122)
Windows 7

[I'm also running Windows 7 and Chrome 12.0.742.122 and I'm not seeing the same problem you are, so it can't be the way we are embedding games on the page. Do you have any extensions that may be interfering? Try emptying your browser cache and reload the page. If that doesn't work, try restarting Windows. It has to be something within your own configuration that's causing the problem. -Jay]

I'm so addicted to this game, and my 4 year old was having fun playing it with me yesterday too.

My only complaints so far are the prohibitive costs for level 3 upgrades, and the fact that even after upgrading my fuel capacity, I still get a "Low Fuel" warning after I've used up the same amount of fuel as the lowest tank size, but have a LOT more fuel left. It seems like it should give me a fuel warning at 25% left, not X litres (or gallons?) gone.

@chibidani I was confused about the fuel at first, too. I think the game assumes you're going to drive the distance back to the surface, thus the incredibly early low fuel warning.

Interesting coincidence! I didn't know about Motherlode until I read about it here in comments (tc', I'm on jayis only for 3-4 years), and ofcourse, I played this here game just now. But just few days ago I stumbled upon yet another digging game with extremely similar concept, retro downloadable for PC this time, and I must say imhho - that one puts to shame these two combined. Maybe I'm sucker for good Commodore 64 design, but after playing Dig'N'Rig, I don't have much patience for omissions of these here games. Jay said they'll probably post it here in near future, so I'm gonna save my lauds for that one..

No one seems to have pointed out that "sapphire" is not spelled correctly in this game - I suppose it might be because no one else may care as much about these things as I do :{

You know, I did notice that Sapphire was spelled incorrectly at the beginning of the game, and then forgot about it :P

I really wish that for the 25% explored achievement, it gave me a x%/25%, instead of a 0/1.

There is no different events, different-behaved chunks (like lava pockets on motherload), and ending on mega miner, I feel that I waste my hours making scrambling tunnels everywhere.

Fun time-waster. The status graphics are too large. Takes so long to moooooveeee. It seems a bit of a cheat to rely on bonus money to afford most of the upgrades.

Hints cut for length.

Prioritizing those vertical shafts are a must for quick escapes when the fuel goes down. If you can't make it straight at first, just dig around the obstruction until you get a drill that can. The map is a big help.

I've also taken to digging deeper and then going back up if there's too many rocks and solid-stone between me and a vein. Your mileage may vary. Saving the digger from damage is worth it.

The dynamite explodes *everything* 3 up, down, left, right from center, in a diamond shape. It will position wherever the digger's pointed, which really begs for a way to rotate the digger without moving forward.

Peeve: when I upgrade the chasis, I still have to repair the damage from the old one. Unless I've botched my mechanical understanding, that makes no sense.

This game is fantastic. However, it has lately stopped working for me all together. Has it crashed for others as well???

[What do you mean by "stopped working"? I just loaded up the game and it runs fine. Have you tried emptying your browser cache and reload? Maybe your cached file got corrupted somehow? -Jay]

This game is addictive. I, however, have one problem. After buying a ton of dynamite my items menu suddenly disappeared. HAs this happened to anyone else?

Are the maps fixed or are they randomly generated when you start a new game? I've searched for quite some time but can't find the Ancient King's remains, the black box, and one of the treasures.

I remain disappointed that the most leveled-up digger is also the ugliest.

Correction on dynamite: it doesn't destroy gems. Which to me would have been a nice challenging feature.

Okay, this is just a question, but when you find the king's remains, is there a place to sell them?

Hmm. Bit slow, bit aimless. No enemies, no real challenge. I wanted to see more guidance, more new difficulties as we get further down. Yet for all that, it's curiously compulsive. I ended up combing the ground for the last of the achievements except the "drill 25% of the map". I'm still not quite sure why, but it seems it did make me keep wanting to play.

@Chloe: You automatically get the mission reward when you find the unique items such as the dead king.

And yes, it does feel like this is just a small part of what makes Dig-N-Rig or Terraria fun without the other bits of what makes them fun. Those are both great games that include the fun bits of this plus quite a bit more. Yet somehow there is still some fun to be had in Mega Miner. How odd.

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