'Dig' is a beautiful and multi-faceted word. When hip cats think something is cool, they dig it. When monocled archeologists excavate dinosaur bones, that's a dig. And when an upgradable drill-bot travels through a vast expanse of dirt in search of precious gems and metals, that too is digging.
Mega Miner, brought to us by the team at Alistair Maunder (allilm), educates us on this third definition with an eerily precise representation of the term. Bringing to mind other classics like Motherload, Mega Miner is a mining simulation game that's all about repeated trips to the underground that challenge you to balance your fuel levels and item capacity for maximum efficiency, all so you can make your drill-bot the best it can be. For some reason, this is INSANELY ADDICTIVE. Hours will disappear.
You control the little fella with the [arrow] keys or [WASD] and interact with [spacebar], though menus are mouse-guided. These menus are where your machine gets the real juicy upgrades and items, and therefore where the real strategy of the game comes into play. Do you want to focus on fuel capacity, or rely on your teleporter and spend more money on item space?
There's no day limit or score counter, so the game relies on your compulsive need to make your machine the best ever to drive gameplay, and it works pretty well. There are also bonus missions, such as special items to find and goals to reach, that will give you a much needed boost of cash and send you closer to the drill of your dreams. There's no real end to anything, and it's pretty hard to die, so it's more a way to pass the time than something to win or defeat.
There are a couple things that could have improved it, like an upgrade to the drill-bots vision range or movement speed, as digging through the giant map searching for a single item can be very time-consuming and frustrating. As it is, it's relaxing but kind of repetitive, so an option with something more at stake would have been welcome. I'd be interested to see something with enemies or daily goals to achieve, something that's a little more than dig, upgrade, rinse, repeat. Also, if it kept track of how many trips you took or how much of the map you've revealed, there might be a little more sense of achievement.
That said, it's still more than worth a play, especially if you have a lot of extra time on your hands. And I mean a lot. There's something wildly addictive about unearthing gems, and let me tell you, one hip cat to another, I dig it. Can you dig it?