In space nobody can hear you scream, but apparently everybody can hear the banjo country music. And oh boy everybody really should experience the banjo music on their iPhones and iPod Touches as well.
Space Miner: Space Ore Bust is an all consuming space shooter with cool ship customization. I started playing, and was hooked for 6 hours straight. Sure I managed to prepare dinner, change some diapers and clean the house at the same time. Well the dinner tasted foul, the diapers got wonky but kept stuff in and the house still looks like before. All thanks to mining in space. I have never got myself so far into a game for the iPhone prior to this.
In Space Miner you control your ship by means of a control pad located on the lower left. You can adjust the size of it to suit your thumbs. Opposite the control pad to the right you have your gun, and your trust buttons. The weapon can be set to autofire, and as you will have a lot of asteroids and enemies to blast that is a good option. I found the controls to be spot on, and it quickly becomes second nature to coast around in space. A minimap at the top right shows the surrounding asteroids as green, enemies as red and points of interest as orange. The entire HUD can be more or less visible depending on your preferences.
The gameplay in Space Miner is divided into three aspects. The main aspect is the flying, shooting and mining. You have to clear an area from all asteroids, and enemies to get a 100% completion of it. Another important aspect is strategy when it comes to the order you tackle missions, and sectors in. Finding alien technology, or getting loads of money by saving tourists can help you in the third and to me most rewarding aspect of the game: ship customization. As you progress through the game you get better licenses as a space miner, and that also gives you cooler stuff to buy. New hulls, weapons, reactors, shields, scanners, engines and collectors all affect the gameplay. There is a definite strategic decision how to equip your vessel. Power is a problem as more powerful weapons demand more power from juicer reactors. Saving up for that new weapon or collector becomes compulsive for me. A tip is to get a better collector as soon as you can afford it as it helps collecting ore, and give you a higher percentage of money for it.
When you enter a newly discovered sector you have loads of asteroids, and enemies swarming the minimap scanner. Finding alien technology, wrecks of other space miners, and other important objects to scan is key to progress in the game. Once you find something you tap it to scan it. You have to keep still next to the scanned object, and can not use your engines while it scans. At times this can be quite tricky as enemies try to ram you away.
At times when you enter a new sector you get a bonus mission where you have to pick up a set number of tourists within a set time. I really like the intensity of these missions. Picking up space tourists with your tether collector while at the same time trying to be quick, and blast enemies makes it a real rush.
The story in Space Miner: Space Ore Bust is quite good focusing on humour. It is told in text between the different characters, and is easy to read. I have had little patience with the story as the actual game is so darn good I can’t read all the fun dialogue from the likes of Uncle Jeb.
Through the roof production values set a high standard for all other space shooters to come. Space has a sense of depth, and is filled with all the space whirly thingys you can ever expect. The different vessels you pilot look, and behave differently. They are even animated as an asteroid smash into them making them jiggle on the screen. The entire interface is executed with brilliance. Menus such as those found in the shop and ship customization are easy to understand, and all comes with their own little question mark that gives you detailed information. Visual effects such as explosions are great as well. I have had minor problems with slowdowns on my 3GS, and I have yet to try Space Miner on a 3G to see if it gets worse or if it is a problem at all.
There is only one flaw with Space Miner, and that is the lack of support for your own music. I like the banjo music, but I would really like to be able to listen to a podcast or audio book as well. Sound effects are good with nice thumps when colliding with asteroids, and heavy thudding sound of fire depending on your weapons.
Achievements, and scores are tracked through PLUS+. With three different levels of difficulty, and more than 50 achievements it is easy to put more than 20 hours into Space Miner. I completed the game on normal in 5 hours, and now I am trying to beat that on hard. The game continues in the same way as Silent Hill and Resident Evil when you play through it again. It restarts but you have a plus next to the save file. There are multiple save files, and the game saves whenever you exit it. This is really good as some levels take up to five minutes to mine, and once cracked I don’t want to do it all over.
Space Miner: Space Ore Bust gets my total complete recommendation. Long gamelife, great polished graphics and most importantly fun gameplay in space accompanied by banjos. Now I want a sequel…can I please have one?
Space Miner: Space Ore Bust $4.99
Seller: Venan Entertainment, Inc.