Space Miner: Space Ore Bust (iPhone/iPod Touch)

by PaulEMoz in , , , , ,

I'm always a sucker for a cheap or reduced iPhone game, and this one looked just pretty and shiny enough to appeal with some really good reviews, so for £1.19, I gave it a go. And this despite the fact I'm not that much of an Asteroids fan...

...which Space Miner is. Well, actually, it's not. It's like a cross between Asteroids, Star Raiders and Puzzle Quest.


Blam! That's how it's done. It's easy when they're hardly moving, though...

Well, the point of the game is to mine ore, which is left behind when you shoot asteroids. The asteroids are in different sectors in space, and you select a sector to try and clear, which is very reminiscent of games like Star Raiders and Starmaster (oooh, there's a blast from my past!). But it's the presentation of the game that reminds me of Puzzle Quest.

The game follows a narrative, and this is where it closely resembles PQ, with your character coming into the game world as a newbie and meeting with his uncle. The uncle sends you out on basic missions to build up a little bit of cash and work towards upgrading to the next level of your mining license. Once you've earned enough money by mining space ore, you can start purchasing upgrades for your ship.

What? The bastard. Hope he gets his, later in the game.

Along the way, other characters will come into the game, both good and bad. Their chat (and yours) can be quite amusing at times, keeping you a little more interested in what is going on.

The main meat of the game is, of course, like Asteroids. As I said earlier, space is split into sectors, arranged in a grid like Star Raiders. You choose the sector you want to blast/mine, and away you go. Some areas will be locked... these will require you to upgrade your license, so the game is kind of linear and non-linear at the same time, with you being forced into certain areas or missions at certain times, and then heading where you want for a bit once those are out of the way.

Hope there's something useful in there. And not some deadly alien virus, or something.

The blasting action, sadly, is the least enjoyable part of the game (at least for me), which I suppose is something of a problem for an Asteroids-based game. I've only played it for an hour and a half so far, but at this point, the asteroids barely move. They look pretty as they spin, but there's no challenge in blasting them. The challenging bits come from other areas... sometimes you may have to find a piece of equipment and it'll be surrounded by alien droids, and they'll shoot at you on sight. This is where I start to struggle. The controls, much like a lot of iPhone games, see the "thrust" and "fire" buttons close to each other, and I find myself accidentally thrusting instead of blasting. Usually, this means death, and some level of frustration.

It's a shame about this, and other, less ham-fisted people might not suffer this problem. The game has a lot to offer for the money (although it's since reverted to its £1.79 price tag since I bought it), and it's done in a very polished manner. Perseverance may reap rewards in this case... with a two-week spell of bus journeys coming up for me, this could see a bit of play, then.