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WASD to move
Mouse to interact with menus

Get to the center and find the rarest of all treasure! Make sure you watch your fuel, health, and money. Use the stations on the top to sell ores, refuel, and upgrade your mining machine.

An alpha of this game was originally made for the BoredPixels3 Jam on Itch.io (Theme: Gameboy), with a week to make it. I (template88) grew up playing the game Motherload by XGenStudios and always wanted to make a game like it. Its a forgotten genre and I hope in the future to make a few different kinds of games for it while trying to shake it up and revive it a bit. This game focuses more on a faster paced experience than Motherload, but fast doesn't mean easy. I hope you enjoy the challenge.

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ah yes, motherload was a fun game indeed

Instead of a fun game about using my cool mining machine to clear a map and get a sense of progression, I get... this. An homage to several great 2D delving games that isn't as good as any of them. A week isn't a long time to make a game, granted, but naked hostility to anyone who doesn't seem to enjoy the game in the comments here isn't going to produce many fans either. Despite what the description insists, it's not merely "fast-paced", particularly in how your fuel depletes (on each movement, not on time) and the pace comes to a screeching halt every time one has to stop and push back up to the surface to get more fuel less than ten seconds after they were just there.

Instead of this game producing the feeling of accomplishment it's more like the feeling of being strong-armed by the mafia. Your starting fuel is so pitifully low that you can't do anything but dig directly beneath your starting zone just to stay alive long enough to buy that first upgrade. And be careful; as hawk18727 mentions below, anything past the first one or two ore capacity upgrades are a waste, as is the first two fuel upgrades (and technically all of them once you can afford the last upgrade; they're not cumulative). Survive long enough to get to a level 3 fuel upgrade first. That's how I finally beat the game. And of course, there's this exchange that I seemed to have every time I went to fuel up: "hey, I need fuel to live. How much is fuel today?" "...how much ya got? >:)"

I won't pretend that I had any idea what the bottom bar was or even that it was there at first. There was no indication that it was a "health bar" besides the single mention in the description that there was one, and considering that you instantly die if your fuel runs out I assumed that functioned as your health gauge at first. Only by constantly tapping the button as you descend down a shaft can you possibly hope to avoid what could quickly be fatal damage. A simple cross shape on it of a slightly different grey would have sufficed to make it clearer.

The music was well-chosen, especially Portal Hoppin'. Gives a great sense of pumping industry and suits the Gameboy classic feel you were going for. I just wish I could honestly say I had more fun with the game that it's attached to.

Igor Stravinsky once said that good composers borrow and great ones outright steal. What about ones that can't do it properly?

In that case, we have this game. Yeah, it's a digging game with (severely castrated in comparison) progression. Motherload is probably the game that gets the most """Homage""" out there. I could easily rant about Motherload having much more lenient, deep and interesting progression, better controls and graphic design, a perfect balance of intensive and extensive principles in game design, additional consumables, a (albelt simple) story and A FUCKING SATAN BOSS, all like what, 14 years ago? Despite this, i'll try to abstract from the fact and look at the present game on its own merit.

The graphic design is at best passable. You absolutely can do better than that. Get the low-res pixelated monochrome feel you were going for, but the art being so bleak and dull is somewhat painful. Wouldn't call it ugly tho. The chiptune's fine and the pacing is maybe the only thing i can compliment the game on. Despite trying to hide the game's bareboneness (both comparing to the prototype and on its own accord) and, really, surprising shortness, behind the concept of """Faster pacing""" (say it in a Jim Sterling trepplA manner, with the quotation marks typed in a 72 size font), the pacing does feel somewhat quick and fairly fair (but only the pacing, not the balancing, more on that in a bit). Without upgrades and on the first ones, you do barely break even, and there's barely enough oar for you to dig without the need for further upgrades.

Everything else is just meh. The controls are absolutely abysmal. They are absolutely jagged, couldn't have been more janky, and you almost always end up going further than you originally intended. Making the input time just a tad bit slower can make wonders for the game (pressing buttons one at a time instead of holding them is tiresome enough), since the precise controls are crucial in maze-like scenarios. The fact that you can't repair your hull makes me question the need to copy-paste the mechanic altogether, even since you can't really float leisurely to avoid the fall damage thanks to a speedy non-centered camera that has screwed me a few times. Also, you can dig horizontally without any repercussions and without falling down, unlike the XGen game, which makes the game incredibly easy. Also, the ending is just... non-satisfactory. At least i can console myself with the fact that the winner is me, but by the time i'm writing this review, i've already forgotten how the ending screen looks.

You can also, surprisingly (it's a bug hopefully), get level 2 upgrades before level 1 ones (or any level for that matter, so they become quite obsolete) and abuse the fact, so my strategy involved ugrading your mining capacity immediately to level 2 (don't upgrade it further - you won't really need it), then comfortably enough waiting for a level 5 fuel upgrade (you get at least 200-300 bucks, if you're lucky enough and can cope with the terrible controls obviously), and then swiftly upgrading your, uh, ore hold, in part because i was becoming quite bored. With the money and ore becoming a non-issue literally in 10 or so refuelings, just cautiously (not forgetting to float) dig downward to your victory. There's not much to it in terms of planning really (Also, i found it to be somewhat irrelevant what type of oar you dig up). I guess you can apply the basic Motherload tactic of "Better safe than sorry", but you'll get the hang of your fuel draining almost immediately anyways.

In conclusion, there was absolutely zero need for a Motherload knock off. Because of the aforementoned, it's not even Utopian Mining and Mega Miner levels. All this game did was incentivizing me to play the incredible original one once again, which i ended up doing. Don't just try to poorly copy the breakthrough and original games (it's probably the easiest thing to do) - strive to make em (even if they themselves will be poor), especially if you have absolutely nothing to add to the formula. I get that it was a jam game originally, however, the final product product scores a bingo on a "Reasons a particular game is bad" card. 3/10.

fun, soooo hard tho. and the music is really good.

Template88 responds:

If you want a tip, always dig next to the fuel depot and never dig without keeping a good stash of cash for fuel as soon as you come back up.

Very good!
I like it enough to login and review. Attention some game mechanics spoilers ahead.

On to review - cool concept. I like the difficulty curve. Contrary to popular belief fuel is very well balanced with depth. It has just the needed difficulty to make it interesting, but by any means its not a diff. game. That being said people seem to have forgotten what dificulty is at all and complain about nuffin.

I find it verry funny how the cargo upgrades past the first level actually make the game significantly more challanging (assuming you are striving for a full load every surfacing) and so for an efficient playthrough they are irrelevant. I am probably wrong, but I dont thinks its possible to make a depth dive, fill 40 slot cargo hold and surface. So essentially this upgrade I find it ... cheeky? ... and well i love it.

As for the difference between ores - to me it was quite obvious whats more valueable, past the 20 and 10 ores - which should have been more distinctive. In the deep there were some wacky ones like the ore which i can only describe as a magnifying glass, but no issue there.

Graphics are solid. Liked the chiptune. I loved everything in game.That being said the main menu needs some improovement. The level of abstraction in the background between the drillbit and the body of the machine doesnt work for me. The drill looks more like a ...lamp? ... of sorts.... and the body of the machine is sorta just lines. I only found out its a machine after i played the game. Maybe you wanted to look as if it is in dark mineshaft or smtg, but i dunno - it didnt work for me.

Overall its a very short game, but it was well done and its very promising.


Credits & Info

3.06 / 5.00

Jan 23, 2019
10:37 AM EST
Action - Other