Miner 2049er

released on Dec 31, 1982

"Bounty Bob" is mining a radioactive mine in the year 2049. Help him "claim" all of the various stations (multiple screens). Avoid contact with the deadly mutant organisms by running away, or hopping over them. Collect various articles left by previous miners for bonus points.

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(Atari 50)
I'm trying to consider how these games are for their time in addition to now. I can confidently say Miner 2049 feels like a poor mashup of Donkey Kong and Pac-Man so it isn't really good compared to other products of its time

Making cartridge games in the pre-Famicom years poised a dilemma: they couldn't store much game without costing customers and manufacturers out the butt. It's no surprise that Nintendo later made their own disk add-on, among others, in order to distribute cheaper, larger software. All the excess cart inventory that flooded North American console markets, thus precipitating the region's early-'80s crash, finally got discounted to rates we'd expect today. And it's in that period of decline where something like Miner 2049er would have appealed to Atari PC owners normally priced out of cart games.
This 16K double-board release promised 10 levels of arcade-y, highly replayable platform adventuring, among other items of praise littering the pages of newsletters and magazines. Just one problem: it's a poor mash-up of Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, and other better cabinet faire you'd lose less quarters from and enjoy more. This was the same year one could find awesome, innovative experiences like Moon Patrol down at the bar or civic center, let alone Activision's Pitfall and other tech-pushing Atari VCS works. Hell, I'd rather deal with all the exhausting RNG-laden dungeons of Castle Wolfenstein right now than bother with a jack of all trades + master of none such as this.
I don't mean to bag on Bill Hogue's 1982 work that much, knowing the trials and tribulations of bedroom coding in those days. He'd made a modest living off many TRS-80 clones of arcade staples, only having to make this once Radio Shack/Tandy discontinued that platform. His studio Big Five debuted on Apple II & Atari 800 with this unwieldy thing, so large they couldn't smush it into the standard cartridge size of the latter machine. Contrast this with David Crane's masterful compression of Pitfall into just 4 kiloybytes, a quarter as big yet much more enjoyable a play. Surely all these unique stages in Miner 2049er would have given it the edge on other primordial platformers, right? That's what I hoped for going in, not that I expected anything amazing. To my disappointment, its mechanics, progression, and overall game-feel just seems diluted to the point of disrespecting its inspirations.
The premise doesn't make a great impression: rather than reaching an apex or collecting an item quota to clear the stage, you must walk across each and every colorable tile to proceed. Anyone who's played Crush Roller or that stamp minigame in Mario Party 4 (among other odd examples) should recognize this. The only bits of land you need not worry about are elevator/teleporter floors and ladders, but the game requires you to complete a tour of everything else. In addition to padding out my playthrough without much sense of accomplishment, this also let me spend more time with Miner 2049er's platforming physics. And the verdict is they're not good. Falling for even a couple seconds kills you, and a lack of air control means mistimed jumps are fatal. The way jumps carry more horizontal inertia than vertical always throws me off a bit, too. Folks love to complain about a lack of agility or failure avoidance in something like Spelunker, but that game and Donkey Kong at least feel more intuitive and consistent than this.
It wouldn't be so bad if the level designs weren't also full of one-hit-kill monsters and platforms with only the slightest elevation differences. The maze game influences come in strong with this game's enemies, which you can remove from the equation by grabbing bonus items, usually shovels or pickaxes and the like. Managing the critters' patterns, your available route(s), and proximity to these power-ups becomes more important the further in you get. But I rarely if ever felt satisfied by this game loop; the flatter, more fluid and tactical plane of action in Pac-Man et al. works way better. Combine all this with getting undone by the least expected missed jump, or running out of invincibility time right before touching a mook, and there's just more frustration than gratification.
Now it's far from an awful time, as the game hands you multiple lives and extends in case anything bad happens. The game occasionally exudes this charming, irreverent attitude towards Nintendo's precursor and the absurdity of this miner's predicament. Mediocrity wasn't as much of a sin back then, especially not when developers are trying to imitate and expand on new ideas. But I think Miner 2049er is a telltale case of how back-of-the-box features can't compensate for lack of polish or substance. For example, it took less than a year for Doug Smith's Lode Runner to do everything here way better, combining Donkey Kong & Heiankyo Alien with other osmotic influences to make a timeless puzzle platformer. The arcade adventure-platformer took on a distinct identity with Matthew Smith's Manic Miner, part of the European/UK PC game pantheon and itself born from the Trash 80's legacy. One could charitably claims that this pre-crash title never aspired to those competitors' ambitions, that it finds refuge in elegance or something. I wish I could agree, especially given its popularity and number of ports over the decade. All I know is this one ain't got a level editor, or subtle anti-Tory/-Thatcher political commentary. The only identity I can, erm, identify is that silly box art of the shaggy prospector and bovine buddy.
Give this a shot if you appreciate the history and context behind it, or just want something distinctly proto-shareware. I just can't muster much enthusiasm for a game this subpar and oddly mundane, both now and then. None of the conversions and remakes seem all that special either, though props to Epoch for bringing it to the Super Cassette Vision in '85. By the time this could have made a grand comeback on handhelds, Boulder Dash and other spelunking sorties basically obsoleted it. Minor 2049er indeed.

Just plays like the 2600 game though flows better, still overall the stupid floaty jump just causes it to be unfun to play, I want to have security that my jump won't kill me because I went too forward and died due to the janky controls.
Don't really recommend playing either version of this game, stick with Donkey
Played on Atari 50.

Donkey Kong's weird half brother that is just boring to play through, the game doesn't even tell you that you have to step on all the tiles to continue to the next level, I legit thought the game broke for a sec after I killed all the enemies and collected all the items, later I saw once the tiles were walked upon and the next stage came I was like "bruh." It's fine but feels like a cheap copy of Donkey Kong but has the school excuse of:
"Hey can I copy your homework" "Yeah but make it have more wrong answers than right" "Ok!"
Played this apart of Atari 50.

(played as part of ATARI 50)
Imagine DONKEY KONG but Mario has to manually step on every pixel of the stage as a condition to win. Also arbitrarily has some PAC-MAN influences because why not. Playable, but incredibly tedious.

This is some jank Donkey Kong.