Who: Developed and published by Digital Chocolate

What: Puzzle, Strategy, Adventure

Where: In California, 1848

When: Available now in the appStore for $0.99, though I swear I paid $2…

Why: You can mine for gold while you poop! What else are you going to do with that time?

Surface store of Gold Rush.
Surface store of Gold Rush.

This type of game always reminds me of Dig Dug. You don’t drill around killing stuff with a bicycle pump, nor do you have what appears to be a space suit on, but you are digging in a 2d view so that may be all that is needed for me to remoniss. In this game you dig through the earth with your trusty pick axe, hacking through the varying densities of rock. With a little luck, you can come across some cool stuff. The underground is riddled with lava, ice, gas, and bats. Some obstacles require you to blow through them with purchased dynamite, and some can’t be blown through with anything at your disposal so you better find a new route. The other more unique obstacles have their advantages and disadvantages. For example; ice is easy to break through, but it is the only thing that can halt a lava flow. It may seem like a nice shortcut to the depths of the mine, but when you hit some lava you are going to wish it was close. And you will hit lava, because most of the big veins of gold are near it, or surrounded by it.

A large deposit of gold!
A large deposit of gold!

At the beginning of each level or mine you are given a pool of stamina. Moving, and mining use up this stamina as you traverse the level. There are two main game types. Either you start at the top and you must collect the most gold or diamonds that you can, or you start at the bottom and have to escape. Occasionally you will come across a miner that was trapped due to a collapse, and saving him will get you some gold, and a nice map of the area around him. Why he didn’t start digging his way out when he knew his surroundings is beyond me.

The majority of the strategy in this game is based around explosives. How many you buy, and when or where you use them. Other things can be purchased such as supports (so the mine doesn’t collapse on you), maps (that reveal part of the mine), rest (at the inn where you can chat up the locals for tips and replenish a little stamina), and a remote shop (this can be built further down into the mine to save time and stamina from hauling gold back and forth).

The game has a good balance of strategy and treasure hunting that will keep you entertained. As you play you also unlock snippets of mining past for your reading pleasure, so It’s an educational game too! Go learning!

There is lava in the mine!
There is lava in the mine!

Quantitative Review:

  • Gameplay: 8.0 – There isn’t anything new going on here, but the game is well balanced and entertaining and polished. Each level has 3 tiers of gold mining success and I found myself revisiting mines to improve myself. Cutting a dark and dangerous path deep into the mine and finding an enormous deposit of gold feels very rewarding. I have one beef with the controls, but it’s mainly the hardware’s fault. I would select a location to walk to and my little miner would mine somewhere else expelling my precious stamina. With great foresight from the developers, you can tap once anywhere to stop all actions in progress, unless you’re sliding across an ice patch.
  • Visuals: 9.0 – I was very impressed with the artwork and style in this game. It’s consistent throughout and it’s pleasing to look at with bright colors and smooth animation. The celebratory cheer after finding a large deposit of gold fills me with glee.
  • Sound: 7.0 – The sound effects are good, but volume levels in the music are pretty bad. It’s like watching television. The commercials are 20%-30% louder. The same is true for the song within the shop, and when you use a map. If you turn this song down to a relaxing level, the music in the main game is nearly inaudible.
  • Presentation: 8.5 – I’m always a bit leery of buying a game for the iPhone now that they separated the market by releasing the 3GS with a better processor. I can never be too sure if my game is going to chug along. Perhaps developers will offer different graphics settings to cure this worry. I bring this up because there were hiccups while mining in this game that probably don’t exist in the “enhanced” model. It would freeze for a bit, and then speed up to compensate. A bit like playing a PC game online. Other than that the game asked me once if I wanted to sign up for some kind of newsletter. I said umm… no!?! It hasn’t bothered me since.
  • Treasure Hunting Satisfaction: 8.0 – In a few of the levels you need to collect an artifact in order to unlock something comparable to the Cave of Wonders. This is pretty fun. Finding trapped miners is pretty fun. Finding large veins of gold is fun. Finding explosives crates and boxes of Pandora… = fun. Overall it’s a good hunt.
  • Overall: 8.1 – If you enjoy searching for stuff, with a little strategy thrown into the mix then you will enjoy this game. It doesn’t go much beyond that. You can upgrade your bag size, but that’s about the only RPG aspect that I can think of. Games like this really benefit from RPG elements like upgrading your pick axe so you can bust through a barrier of granite or something. It’s well worth the $0.99 price tag… I swear I spent $2.

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