[The screenshot above is from the Apple II version] |
Miner 2049er is one of the best "climbing games" ever made (the genre popular in early 1980s), and a much better game than the better-known Donkey Kong series. Original released on the Atari 5200 system, the game was ported to over 15 home systems including the Apple II (the version I played) and this now very rare PC version.
In this ultimate climbing game, you are Bounty Bob, an explorer searching through all of Nuclear Ned's abandoned mines for the treacherous Yukon Yohan (whoever came up with these names were having fun, you can tell...) You must "claim" each section of each mine by running over it, jumping over segments and avoiding radioactive creatures in the process. Once you reach the prize required for that level (ranging from an axe, dynamite, martini, and more), you'll proceed to the next one.
The best thing about Miner 2049er is that each of the ten level is carefully laid out. Similar to games like Flashback that are ostentatiously action games, sometimes there is only one way to finish the level - but it will take you dozens of tries to figure it out because the path is not always obvious. This gives Miner 2049er an added layer of complexity that puts it far and above all other climbing games. One annoyance I had with the game is that you have to time your jumps very precisely - you will miss them if you are only one pixel off. This is true even on the lowest difficulty level (the game has ten), so if you are easily frustrated, you might find the game more tedious than fun. For me the precision required is just part of the challenge, because the game is very addictive.
Unlike Donkey Kong where gameplay remains more or less the same from level to level, screens in Miner 2049er have many special features you can use, including slides, movable hoist, teleporters, cannons, and many others. With addictive gameplay, an amazing array of surprises, and very clever puzzle-like level design, Miner 2049er is a top-notch classic that you simply must play if you consider yourself a true arcade fan. The best version of the game remains the Atari 5200 version, though, but this PC port (published by Microfun) isn't that bad, although it's very difficult to get it to run on modern computers. Highly recommended. If you like the game, check out the superior but lesser-known sequel Bounty Bob Strikes Back also on this site.
Note: In 2001, designer Bill Hogue opened the official Big Five Software website as an archive for the company's classics, and released an excellent freeware Atari 800XL emulator for Windows that includes both Miner 2049er and Bounty Bob Strikes Back - check it out!
Reviewed by: Underdogs