Tuesday, May 05, 2020

The Galactic Miner

We dig for diamonds, we dig for gold...

Galactic Miner was developed by William Anderson of (wait for it) Willie Wonka And The Software Factory. How ludicrously funny is that? Anyhow, this started life on the TI-99 4/A and is basically a Digger developed using STOS. However, it doesn't appear compatible with many models of the Atari ST/f/e but more on that later.

We begin by holding a terrain map that details the quality of possible locations: white areas have the best pickings, brown is good whilst green is poor. However, travelling costs money, and we don't have much, to begin with, so it's best to keep things local. Once a decent spot is chosen, a fantastic animation displays us driving along in a truck before stopping to erect a mining shack. It's from here we can lower ourselves down into the mine.

We're the red block and this is the map used to pick ourselves fertile lands. In theory!

Shack Attack!

Our shack wouldn't be complete without a credit-munching Vendomatic! This machine is used to restock dynamite that's used to clear a path through the mine. Droids are bought to help protect us from sneaky thieves and Clones aid with extra lives. The final option is another shack, which will be used at the next dig site.

But wait, that's not all the magical shack offers! There's a copy machine - no, put your butt away because this is used to exchange mined ore into credits. Eagle eyes will notice a save game feature - which you should use! The doorway represents an exit onto other sites but the computer isn't something I've used - because I've never earned enough credit... Use the hatch to return to the mine but don't forget to turn out the light on your way out!!

Not your typical mining operation but everything you need is available from inside your shack.

Too scary for Miner Willy!

Okay, we've built ourselves a shack and have a fist full of dynamite so let's get inside the mine. Instantly, the gameplay feels familiar but with a few basic differences. Freely moving through the dirt is only possible when something collectable is within your grasp. Use dynamite when thicker dirt or small rocks are blocking the way to the goodies. Dynamite has no effect on the larger rocks which are too strong, so look for another way.

Beware of ugly creatures lurking within the depths! There are scary monsters that will roar onto your screen at random intervals and random areas. Thankfully, these can leave behind a present to pick up. Also, it's a good idea to protect your shack from thieves by purchasing a Droid - it's expensive but has good security. There's nothing worse than being underground whilst someone's on the surface robbing you blind (great to watch though!)

What's wrong with the world today? I'm working and that no-mark turns up to rob me blind!

As you can see, each mine is always different as are the quality of your dig with gold, gems, etc...

Grab as much loot as you can and run!

Each screen is randomly generated so always different including item locations, monsters and cave-ins - which can change things drastically. It's also possible to run low on dynamite but there's always the option to return back to the shack to cash-in and restock? Deciding if/when to do that is entirely up to you, based upon how much of the good stuff remains. Also, bear in mind that it costs us money to detonate a stick of dynamite...

So, it's decision time, should you restock and return to the same mine to collect what's left or move on to new pastures? It's all up to you based on your finances and what remains to be collected but, if you do go back, then I seriously advise buying a Droid. Yup, there is actually a lot more to this game than just digging. Good luck!

(left) I've pretty much cleaned out the mine! Wait, a monster... at least he didn't bite me (right)

I forgot to clone myself... How often have I said that? And then this screen mocks you!


Graphically, this is amateur but pretty thanks to lovely landscapes, good use of colour, well-drawn decals and funny sprites. However, it's the cartoon animations that steal the show and it's a blast watching your Ford F150 (I'm daydreaming, okay!) drive along the landscape before we stop to masterfully build a shack. Heck, even the truck's suspension rises as its cargo is removed!! So much effort obviously went into this and I love it.

Title screen has a neat chiptune and there are a few jingles here and there to enjoy. In-game sound effects are all made from crunchy samples which I really enjoyed. Okay, I'm gutted the STe wasn't utilised (1992!!) and they do sound rather STFM'y but I love how they're used. Watch out for those roaring monsters!

Sadly, I couldn't get Galactic Miner to work on my Atari STe (TOS 1.62). It booted up fine but then appeared to hang on the title screen. Sadly, things didn't improve with Hatari on my Mac - using my usual default ST/STe configurations (TOS 1.02/1.04 and TOS 1.62).

I did have some success using an ST (in Hatari) but the miner lost his position on the screen - and that got worse with each movement!! So, I went back to the basics and emulated the original ST with TOS 1.00 and everything worked perfectly. YMMV?

I love the neat touches, like being able to collect a dead clone's loot.

I never did get why the old shack needed to be blown up? But then I'm eaten alive. A great day!

The CryptO'pinion?

Ignoring the need to emulate with TOS 1.00, Galactic Miner has a couple of other issues I didn't care for. I don't feel it's well-balanced with regards to the credits system because everything is too expensive in comparison to the mining rewards earned. Also, we get charged detonating dynamite and then charged again for using supplies!

Ignoring my sneaky plea of an extra credit cheat - any hackers here?? Galactic Miner is one of the silliest and most addictive games I've played in ages. Enjoy digging in the mud like a kid from the 70s. You're gonna love it.


  1. The sources needs to be re-compiled with the latest version of STOS to work on an STE

    1. Tbh i don't know much about STOS. I have a program that can supposedly fix these games that hang on the STe... but... it didn't work. Unless I was dong something wrong!
      Anyhow, it would be ace to play this on real hardware. I don't normally feature anything unless I've played it on my own STe. So this was a first and not something i was happy about - but - this is a cracking game. Oldskool and I loved it :D

  2. I have the compiler to do it, but I'd need all of the original files.
    I have tried the patch fix for STE STOS and it hardly ever works.