Game Reviews

Space Miner Wars - A miner mistake

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| Space Miner Wars
Space Miner Wars - A miner mistake
| Space Miner Wars

Developers have dragged most of the classic arcade cabinet games kicking and screaming into the modern age.

Ancient vector title Asteroids hasn't had much of this sort of love. Which is kind of a surprise. Especially since one of its few homages, Space Miner, was a moderate critical and commercial success.

Moderate commercial success doesn't seem to have been enough for developer Venan. It's decided that the best way to make a return on this sequel is to mine the players. Space Miner Wars is a free to play game.

The first thing it shows you is its roots. The core of the play is zipping round an asteroid field, shooting things.

Mostly you'll shoot asteroids which split into smaller and smaller chunks until they're destroyed. Sometimes they leave ore behind.


The charm of the game is in its slightly realistic physics. Once you're thrusting in a given direction, it's hard to turn or stop. So you tend to bump into all those rocks, which depletes your shield and can eventually destroy your ship.

Soon you'll encounter rogue droids that attempt to fly into your craft on purpose. Soon they're joined by stationary versions that fire at you.

Manoeuvring round all these obstacles takes skill and practice. Flying and collecting ore is quite the most fun thing in the game.

It's all downhill from there. After your first few missions, you're introduced to the concept of base building. It's all depressingly familiar.


Anyone who's played Clash of Clans or any of the millions of other games just like Clash of Clans will know this game. Stuff to upgrade before you can upgrade other stuff.

Pointless missions and wait timers while stuff gets built. Base raids and defensive towers. All to make sure players part from some real-world money.

There's no innovation to any of it. Some players have pointed out that because you fly raids with the same awkward controls as ore mining, it take more skill than normal.

Which is true, but it still feels like putting sprinkles on the same old turd.

You'll be waiting for the inevitable difficulty spike when you come through the tutorial missions. It arrives in the form of enemy spaceships.

Unlike the droids they seek you out, ganging up into big swarms from which it's hard to escape. The primary effect of this is to make you spend a lot more energy to get the same amount of ore. So it's harder to maintain play time without paying.

It also means that you start emptying sectors of enemies way before you empty them of asteroids. You can only transport a limited amount of ore each trip.

So to mine all the resources in a sector means repeated trips, each needing energy, in which you do nothing but shoot at rocks.

It's tiresome, unnecessary, and a prime example of the way Space Miner Wars puts profit first and fun second.


There's a surprising silver lining, however. For a free to play clone, the game is astonishingly well written. The plot isn't imaginative but it is engaging.

And the miserable alien trader Galactus pedals a great line in dry humour. The lure of some more character dialogue is often just enough to push you through the repetitive missions.

If you want to spend the time, there's plenty more to discover. You can join a guild, explore bigger regions of space, upgrade and modify your ship.

It's just that each discovery conjures an eerie sense of deja-vu for every other free to play base builder.

Still, it's free. It's worth a try if you have fond memories of Asteroids or even the superior original Space Miner.

Just don't expect a game you can stick with without paying money. And even if you do, don't expect to find anything but more requests for money in outer regions of the galaxy.

Space Miner Wars - A miner mistake

A tiresome Clash of Clans clone, redeemed from utter oblivion by fun flying and amusing characters
Matt Thrower
Matt Thrower
Matt is a freelance arranger of words concerning boardgames and video games. He's appeared on IGN, PC Gamer, Gamezebo, and others.