Impressions: Super Motherload

By Craig Pearson on January 17th, 2013 at 9:00 pm.

Dig dug.

Super Motherload puts you in the gravel spattered cockpit of a helicopter crossed with one of the machines that broke into the rebel stronghold in Arnie’s Total Recall. It’s an odd, otherworldy contraption, so it’s only right that it’s also on Mars. You’re there to mine minerals, to dig down into the strata and grab the glorious, shiny loot beneath. I guess the Red Planet is miner celebrity? After a few hours of digging into it, I have some thoughts on the question everyone is asking: does it seam good?

It’s initially pretty frustrating. The digger is a fun little craft to control: it hovers, it digs, though it can’t dig and hover at the same time. That means you’re digging either down or along the ground, never up and never in the middle of a shaf. The randomly generated strata of Mars is packed with minerals, scrap, and a few other handy mining items, like bombs and fuel to uncover.

Everything you do, be it float, move, or dig burns fuel. The notion is that you’ll occasionally need to return to the surface refuel and drop your collected cargo. So I dug. Down and along, aiming my little digger for the interesting coloured rocks. It’s something of a strata-gy (hah!), picking out the right seams to aim for, because you can’t dig up and you can only dig sideways when you’re on ground, you might need to back-track to get to a gnarly little clump of rocks. There, you just gobble them up. Grab a cluster in one run and you’ll gain a combo to add to your dollar score. It’s a pleasant little mechanic: the digger’s grumble as it gnaws the rock and the bosh as you grab the prize is cutely rewarding.

But all too quickly, through filling your cargo hold or running out of fuel, you’ll have to return to the surface. You can’t dig when you’re out of fuel, and you can while you’re full it won’t count anything you dig up, so the journey back is pretty dull. The deeper down you go, the digging is more interesting but the return is duller. It’s slapping you back down when you’re enjoying it the most. You can somewhat mitigate it with unlocks. You can bump your cargo up, add a fuel tank, speed up your drill and movement, and buy bombs.

Dug dig.

Bombs aren’t handy for general digging, but as you dig you’ll unearth configurations of rocks that can only be unplugged with a directed explosion. There are shaft-bombs that let you blast upwards, and t-shaped bombs that can scoop out mid-shaft blocks. They’re not particularly challenging, but the rewards are dopamine-inducing.

I eventually figured a way to blast away the initial frustrations: right at the start of the game, I buzzed my little craft to the side of the map and dug straight down. See, as you dig down you’ll eventually meet a sub-surface facility that you can refuel, unload, repair and buy things at. The return to either the surface or the lower facilities (there are more as you go down) is made a lot more pleasant with a direct line to either. I just pushed up or down on the joypad and let my brain be elsewhere. It’s also generally more fuel efficient. With that in place, it got a whole lot more fun. I was enjoying the digging and exploration. I had planned on digging deeper, but when I left the game and restarted after a shower I discovered it didn’t save my position. And even though I had a neat mining trick, it was time to return to the surface. I had a quick game with my girlfriend to test out the co-op. Up to four people can play, on the same machine. Mining is swifter, but the screen keeps everyone tightly together.

It does seam good. It’s Q1 this year, and there’s some Steam Greenlight beggary over here. It’s certainly worth a click.

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44 Comments »

  1. Lurid says:

    But is it that much different from the original flash version to warrant yet another playthrough?

    • skye says:

      We hope so –

      4-player couch co-op is probably the biggest addition, but there are a ton of other additions and new mechanics as well. Quests & special abilities, Voice-Overs and a full-length OST, branching storyline choices with Multiple Game Endings, around 150 Explosive-based Puzzles, and a C++ engine that allows for 60 FPS at a full 1080p.

      • frightlever says:

        Sounds like you need to sort out that boring trip back. (edit: I just read something about a teleport device – so that’d be a goal, like the autodock in Elite). And could someone explain what the “point” of the game is? I just tried the flash version and identified a couple of game mechanisms – avoiding damage, maximising ore collection through route selection and fuel management all with a view to buying upgrades so I can rinse and repeat. It actually reminded me of Q*Bert – the route selection efficiency part, but you were getting chased by something in that. Hmm. I didn’t stick with the flash game long. Is there a competitive element in solo play later? Essentially, are there enemies?

        I often wondered if I could tag “award winning” on to my profession, even though the award was a bronze medal in archery I got when I was sixteen. So, I googled Kurtis J. Wiebe and found this:

        http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/worldwide/111012panzerfaust.html

        Not a comic I’m familiar with but colour me intrigued.

        EDIT2: I played some more of the Flash game. It’s not for me, but I just hate anything arcade these days so it’s no reflection on the game itself. Seriously, it’s not the game, it’s me. Try the original at:

        http://www.xgenstudios.com/play/motherload

        • skye says:

          Duly noted; we’ll continue to experiment with teleporters to see if they make the game more fun.

    • Elusiv3Pastry says:

      Given that the original flash version brought all production in my engineering/development office to a screeching halt for a week, I am quite looking forward to this.

  2. muldy says:

    I thought this looked familiar, i remember playing the original a few years ago. I’m not sure i see enough difference in it to spark any interest myself, but we’ll see i guess.

  3. pertusaria says:

    This looks and, from the description, plays a lot like Gem Miner (the first one) on Android. I enjoyed Gem Miner, so that’s not a bad thing as long as they’re different enough. The settings are different – robot rather than dwarf.

    The fact that they’re using Motherload instead of Motherlode kind of bothers me, but presumably it’s a pun and not a spelling mistake.

    • skye says:

      Maybee.

    • Xerian says:

      Its a definite pun or such. The original (flash) game, to which this is a commercial pseudo-sequel-thing was called MotherLoad. And fuck me, its a game thats cost me many, many hours. And probably given XGen some decent ad-revenue.
      Gods, I loved the original. It was fun with some strategy, but also fun just playing mindlessly. I wish the guys good luck with it, and hope its a success. I’ll definitely buy it if the price isnt too steep (8-10 euros would be picture-perfect for me.)
      Anyway, I cant wait to try it out, and I’ve voted for it on Greenlight now too :)..
      And its my 120th game voted on, on Greenlight. And really hope you make it to Steam, it’d be a lovely game to play whilst bored or… Well, when you want to be entertained. The first time I played the original was when I was like 8 I think, so its actually quite dear to me.

      Oh and a question, if you’re reading this.. Are you the same folks over from XGen that created the commercial Stick RPG? I bought it and played the shit out of it. Over and over and over and over again, and if it was you, good job.

  4. dontnormally says:

    initiate pun thread

  5. LionsPhil says:

    There’s perhaps something wrong when this appears to have less game to it than Boulderdash or Dig Dug or Repton.

    • zeekthegeek says:

      I actually find it’s quite a lot more of a game than either of those. At least in the original.

      • skye says:

        Spambot self-censor auto delete function executed.

        • Toberoth says:

          Dude, it’s cool that you’re taking an interest in what people are saying about your game and replying to comments here, but a lot of your posts just sound like advertising/PR speak. Maybe tone it down a bit?

        • headyimp says:

          Seriously. Are you a person or a PR spambot? I’m not sure that you’re helping your case here.

          Also, here’s a tip — no one cares if your writer won an award for his 4th grade homework assignment, especially if your gameplay sucks. Fix your gameplay and you might have something here.

          • skye says:

            You’re right, gameplay is paramount.

            I also care about story. If something is poorly written, it detracts from the experience for me.

  6. aliksy says:

    I rather liked the original flash version. Fuel management was interesting, since you have to figure how deep you can go and still have enough fuel to get back up. Or buy one of the teleport devices, but that’s expensive.

    I also used the strategy ‘dig down in as straight a line as possible’ strategy. Makes it easy to get back up (and drop back down).

  7. protospork says:

    It saddens me that so many people missed out on the first game and think this is something new (or a rip-off from newer games). My friends and I have fond memories of Motherload. I still play it once in a while for nostalgia’s sake; very glad to see a sequel/remake in the works.

  8. spectone says:

    So have they also included the silly boss battle from the original? That was the only thing I hated about that game.

  9. Renevent says:

    The flash version was pretty cool, definitely interested in this one as well. Though have to admit, not really crazy about the graphical change. Obviously they are technically more advanced, but everything has a really “sharp” look to it including the dirt. For a game about digging down into the, um, dirt, not sure that was the right aesthetic.

  10. Tei says:

    Looks like mule!.

  11. RagingLion says:

    I too played this back when it was a flash game and it was one tht I probably played the most of. I actually completed it twice which is pretty rare given a decent time commitment for a sitting only game. I wonder if it will try the same loose plot and ending as the flash game.

  12. Zyrxil says:

    That’s all well and good, but will we still be working for the Devil? That’s the most important question.

  13. RiskofRain says:

    I loved the original, hopefully this one is even better!

  14. Dana says:

    So when I can get a remake of “Diggers” from Amiga ?

  15. Brainkite says:

    looks a lot like Dig it on iOS, which was pretty addictive but too much waist of time too.

  16. PodX140 says:

    I normally don’t comment on minor stuff like this, but the spelling errors and syntax in the article were pretty sub-par. Multiple uses of “seam” instead of “seem,” random words thrown in random places, it’s a bit all over the place.

    On the topic of the actual game, I’m quite excited for more motherload.