Micro Miners iPad Review
Check out our Micro Miners cheats and tips guide
There's an obvious parallel between Micro Miners and the classic, much-loved gameplay of Lemmings. You're in charge of a collection of little sprites who, left to their own devices, will wander endlessly forward in each level until they hit a wall, at which point they'll turn around and continue going in the opposite direction. All you can do to affect their movement is either clear dirt, or block off tunnels as they head deep underground on a mission to mine every last mineral from the depths below.
Each of these little sprite types have their own specialties and personal 'Kryptonites'. The black miners can dig through coal and gold, but the white miners specialize in hoovering up silver. Put the wrong miner on the wrong mineral though and they'll evaporate (Pro tip: neither of these two like lava). The screen scrolls downwards constantly, and if any miner hits the top of the screen then they'll perish which adds time pressure to what would otherwise be a fairly sedate game.
As a downward-burrowing game, things start off relatively simple as you carefully carve holes in the dirt and let them wander towards the next patch of ungathered minerals. They can't burrow down through stone though, and soon you'll need to take advantage of the groups of jumping critters who can hop left and right across the rising ledges you create with the creation tool.
The challenge unfolds gently enough, and Micro Miners does a fine job of easing you gently into the playstyles of each individual type of miner. The real joy of the game though comes from steering multiple groups around the screen, blocking off previously open tunnels so that the other group can journey towards their patch without hitting the wrong mineral, and keeping everyone happy.
Miss a node and you'll lose one strike out of a possible three before you're forced to restart a level. Fortunately there are some handy power-ups which can help reduce the impact of your worst work, such as bombs which will clear out the stubborn, otherwise impenetrable stone, or the mighty mining power which collects every node on the screen. You only get a limited use of these per level, but they can be just the thing to rescue an attempt if you fumble towards the end-game.
If there's an issue we have with Micro Miners, it's that it can be a little fiddly to get every last critter back towards the main group, and you'll sometimes need to do some frantic digging and building to rescue a stubbornly stuck miner. It's always a pity to have to make a sacrifice for the sake of the greater group further below, and it can be frustrating to lose out on a perfect clearance simply because one miner became stuck on an errant pixel.
Still, this is an immensely charming, clever and (despite the obvious influence of Lemmings) original game. Neat mechanics, simplistic yet pretty artwork and a fine, stirring chiptune make this a very easy recommendation for fans of puzzle and platform games alike.
What's Hot: Fantastic platform-puzzling gameplay that's packed full of variety and charm.
What's Not: The controls can be very fiddly and a little frustrating, especially when you're manipulating multiple streams of miners.