Jan 1, 2014

[Games] Pocket Mine (Android)

Over the holidays, my sister got both me and my brother to play Pocket Mine, which is a quirky little procedural runner game that uses mining as a primary theme. I didn't expect to get into the game so quickly but after roughly a week of play I'm already at level 39.

It's a simple enough game that relies on a lot of the classic elements that we've seen in many other procedural runners. But for some reason I find myself enjoying this way more than the likes of Temple Run - and this may be more due to my personality than just the game in itself.

Pocket Mine is a mobile game developed by Roofdog Games available for free on Android and iOS that has you as a miner digging deep into the ground. Given it's a procedural runner, the screen is steadily shifting the action downwards and thus you'll need to keep up with your mining as the game progresses.

Your movement is limited by the durability of your pick axe, which of course can be upgraded over time using the money that you gather by selling various resources that you dig up in the mine. The resource range is limited to coal, gold, iron and diamonds and naturally the more valuable minerals are to be found deeper in your mine and are a little tougher to break apart.

To help you along, you will find various power ups throughout the map including bombs that destroy everything within a certain radius or strength boosts that allow you to destroy tougher materials with one hit instead of two. But to modify the mix of things, one will also pick up cards that provide additional bonuses such as enabling power-ups that give coal or gold regardless of what you're digging. These cards primarily modify the existing power ups in the game so a card can increase the number of bombs to be found or can improve the effectiveness of your dynamite.

Only 3 cards are active per run into the mine and these are determined right before you enter. Thus no matter how many cards you have, you won't exactly get all the benefits at the same time. The only bonus is that you can at least merge similar cards into one with the Fuse ability that increases the effectiveness. For example, two cards that both increase the number of treasure boxes in the mine can be combined into one with a higher percentage bonus.

You are given cards every time your character reaches a new level. However you can also unlock cards using chests found in the mine for as long as you have the appropriate number of keys to open the box. In addition, treasure boxes also contain artifacts that can be exchanged for cards for as long as you meet the requirements for the collection that they are a part of. Thus you have artifacts that follow a Christmas theme or a sports theme.

These elements come together for a game that is pretty fun to play and easy to either pick up or leave quickly. Thus it's a very casual game in nature that has a pretty quick energy recharge rate for starting another mining attempt. The recharge rate seems to be just enough to let you put your phone down for a bit before you're notified that all charges have been restored and you can head back down. My only complaint is how tricky it is to pause the game mid-run since you need to slide out the pause menu and then click. Thus I've found it to be easier to just lock my phone and leave things at that since when I return I'll be on the pause menu anyway.

Pocket Mine is brilliant in its simplicity with just enough additional features to keep the game interesting and fresh. Don't expect to find truly dynamic gaming in this particular app - like most procedural runners, it relies on you wanting a consistent game experience time and time again when you want to kill some time. Thus the game rates a great 4.5 hidden character costumes in the mines out of a possible 5.

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