|Port of the Atari 8-bit game
by Bill Hogue
Part Amidar, part Jumpman, Miner 2049er was one of the defining games
of the 1980's. Originally released for the Atari 8-bit computer
line, Miner eventually made its way to 15 different systems all over the
world and even had a sequel. So why was Miner so popular? The
answer is simple; easy to learn yet addictive gameplay combined with interesting
level design. Of course even the most promising game can be ruined
by poor programming. Thankfully Bill Hogue was not only a brilliant
game designer, but a skilled programmer as well. Unfortunately for
2600 fans, Bill Hogue had nothing to do with this version...
The basic concept behind Miner is simple. Bounty Bob must walk
along every platform on the board while avoiding deadly radioactive mutants.
Every time Bob walks across a piece of the 'framework' the checkered
pattern turns into a solid bar and becomes 'claimed'. Once all the
framework has been claimed, Bob will be transported to the next level
of the mine. Along the way Bob can grab various items that will
turn the mutants 'edible' for a short time (think of them as power pellets).
Each level has different properties and equipment that can help
or hinder Bob. Learning how each board works is the key to winning
Without a doubt, Miner was a difficult game to program on a system with
as many limitations as the 2600. A skilled programmer would have
had a tough time trying to capture all the nuances of the original 8-bit
version Unfortunately the programmer that Tigervision hired wasn't
quite up to challenge. While it may look like Miner (if you squint),
it doesn't play a thing like the original. And for a game as sacred
to gamers as Miner, this was unforgivable.
Poor gameplay is one thing, but flawed gameplay is another
thing altogether. In the original Miner, Bounty Bob could easily
jump over the wandering mutants with little danger. In the 2600
version, jumping is so difficult that even if Bob begins his jump next
to a mutant that is going the opposite direction there's only a 1 in 3
chance he'll actually succeed. Not being able to reliably jump over
mutants kills what little hope this version had. Jumping over gaps
in the level is difficult as well, but not as impossible as jumping mutants.
While the original game had 10 different levels, the
2600 version has been stripped down to three. Three more levels
were included in pseudo sequel unique to the Atari 2600 called Miner
2049er Volume II. The remaining missing levels involved some
serious jumping, which is probably why they were scrapped.
This is the first level in the 2600 version, and as
such is somewhat easier than the others. Here Bob must work his
way around the level while being careful not to fall down the slides.
While the slides themselves aren't deadly, Bob is completely at
their mercy until he reaches the end. If the slide happens to pass
through a mutant (and most do), Bob will be killed.
This level can be a bit difficult because it involves
some tough jumping. The main feature of this level are the transporters
(the colored arches) in the middle of the screen. Bob can use these
transporters to move to different parts of the level, but if he transports
onto a mutant he will be killed. Also take note of the two slides
on the fourth platform that make for a one way trip.
This is the most interesting level of the bunch. Here
Bob must use the cannon to blast himself up to the ledges at the top of
the screen. But before Bob can use the cannon, he needs to load
it with TNT. By grabbing TNT charges from the store house at the
bottom of the screen, Bob can launch himself to varying heights. One
charge will take Bob to the first ledge, two charges will boost Bob to
the second ledge, and three charges will take Bob all the way to the top.
Of course it takes a bit of time to reach the ledges after being
shot out the cannon, so timing Bob's landing to avoid the roving mutant
can be difficult. Also take note not to overload the cannon or Bob
will suffer a horrifying (yet humorous) death.
With average graphics and flawed gameplay, the 2600
version of Miner is most frustrating than fun. While it is possible
with some practice to master the control quirks, the paltry three levels
in this version don't offer the average player much incentive to keep
playing. If you're looking for a Miner fix, pick up the Atari 8-bit
version instead. It's almost like a completly different game.
||Final Version (with level select)
to 2600 Software