Miner 2049er
| Miner 2049er

You know all those people who bang on about the 'good ol' days', and how they were infinitely better than life in the 21st century? Well, they can keep 'em. The good ol' days meant that catching flu was genuinely life threatening, an evening's entertainment would be a public flogging and, if school wasn't for you, there was always the local pit or a career in cleaning chimneys.

Granted, there's nothing wrong with reminiscing about life back then, but almost always the past is viewed through rose-tinted (bi-focal) spectacles. Take video games from those dark days, the 1980s. Sure, they were revolutionary, but so was the steam engine once upon a time, and we can't imagine anyone wanting to swap a brand new Ferrari for a traction engine.

Games from that era are often best left there. A case in point is Miner 2049er, a title that developer Magmic have dug up and re-packaged for today's mobile gamer. Indeed your reviewer, who was but knee-high to a grasshopper when the original hit the arcades, had to look it up on Wikipedia to see what the ancient game was all about.

Now, as then, you play as Bounty Bob, a happy-go-lucky miner who's looking for Yukon Johann in a series of radioactively contaminated mine shafts. You're not alone under the ground, as the abandoned mine is populated with monsters who'd love nothing more than to have a chew on your earlobe and then finish you off.

So it is that you embark on a series of simplistic, sideways-scrolling platform stages as you attempt to walk over every inch of every platform in each shaft. As you do, the platform changes colour, reflecting the fact that you've collected the valuable ore dust that's all that's left from the digging.

Tread across all the floor surfaces, then, and you complete the level. But in order to reach that point you'll need to climb ladders, avoid falling off platforms and not get eaten. Along the way you can pick up items left by the other miners, causing the beasties to become rather less lethal. In fact, walk into them and they'll pop their clogs instead of using yours as aperitifs.

It's straightforward stuff and, to be honest, it's all bit dull and unexciting. Anyone who's grown up with Sonic The Hedgehog and Super Mario Brothers is likely to feel the same way, and quite why you'd want to limit yourself with Miner 2049er is a question that should, quite legitimately, be asked.

Because time – and games – have moved on so far in the two-plus decades since its debut, Miner 2049er compares badly to a modern platformer in not just its looks, but more importantly in its gameplay. It's slow, frustratingly constrictive and not terribly conducive to repeated play.

Even though there are two versions in this mobile edition of the game, a pixel-perfect port of the original arcade and a glossy revamp with cartoon-style visuals, the way that each plays is nearly identical, with a few changes in the levels in the remake but little else.

As a short glimpse at the prehistory of videogaming as we know it, Miner 2049er is of interest. Even if it had secured itself a guest spot in a more modern game (a la the classics in Namco Arcade Golf), we would have had time for it. But to put it up against the best contemporary mobile titles, including Neenya Ninja, Splinter Cell and Open Season, simply reveals just how badly it has aged. Avoid.

Miner 2049er

A one-time classic that nowadays isn't fit to shine Sonic's shoes