Do you happen to like “Escort Games,” wherein you’re challenged to keep an NPC alive — whom generally has a predilection towards their own demise — all while somehow dealing with extremely finicky controls? I’m guessing at this juncture that most of you have already said “no,” and are now sticking around just to see exactly why Gold Miner Rescue (out now, free), failed to make the cut. If — however — you’re still reading because you thought the included screenshots reminded you of Lemmings, then I would advise you to massively lower your excitement before reading any further.
The game’s premise certainly starts out simple enough, with players being tasked with first leading a trapped miner over to some gold — via digging out tunnels with their finger — and then afterwards leading him to his house. Although there are some buttons on the right — which determine whether you’re in look-around mode, mining-mode, or wish to immediately focus on the miner himself — your primary input here will be the mining. Finally, you might have noticed screenshots showing the miner using Lemmings style ladders and staircases — suggesting other controls exist as well — but for now just pretend those options don’t actually exist (for reasons I’ll cover in more detail further down).
Anyways, once you’ve dug out a path — which can be placed virtually anywhere you want, so long as you don’t go through a steel wall — the miner will try to follow along the path you’ve presented him. You’ll quickly discover — however — that the smoothness with which you’ve drawn your tunnel matters dearly, as — although the miner can make small hops upwards — he’ll get angry and turn back around if he decides something is too steep. A lot of the complications faced in Gold Miner Rescue are centered entirely around this control mechanic, since not only are precision tunnels hard to make — thanks to the finger paint style controls — but also because tunnels can’t ever be reverted without starting over.
So when you’re having trouble making a tunnel fit into a tight space, only to repeatedly get things lined up not quite right — such that the miner will refuse to make the trip — it’s easy to see why frustration sets in fast. This is then further exacerbated by the fact that fixing something means restarting the entire puzzle, meaning you can — and often even will — mess up something new before you even reach the place you previously failed at. You finally have to factor in the times you did everything correctly, and yet — despite all odds — the miner will force him to jump up a steep path in desperate search of his death (which is extra annoying since he generally refuses to do this whenever you want him to).
As if all of this frustrating imprecision was not yet enough, the game’s developer has additionally decided to toss in some timing-based puzzles where you need to get the miner past flames that intermittently turn themselves off and on. To make these matters even worse, carefully placed steel walls exist to ensure that you have to let him walk past them on his own — rather than digging a path around them — and you don’t control him. The goal for these puzzles is to open a path so that he walks over to the flaming barrel at the exact moment it will temporarily be turned off, but the miner generally flips you the finger — metaphorically speaking — by refusing to immediately walk through your tunnel.
Now of course — as some of you have probably started thinking — the developer likely does mean for your to circumvent these problems using those aforementioned ladders and staircases, and I’m finally ready to tell you why those might as well not exist. Each tool — you see — will cost your miner 100 pieces of gold to buy, and yet you can only get one new piece of gold with each level you successful run Captain Suicide safely through. Therefore — as any sane person simply must presume at this junction — it’s rather probable that the miner’s suicidal tendencies exist deliberately to drive you to use this game’s IAP options, as you definitely won’t be saving up enough gold for these power-ups otherwise.
Oh, and there’s also an awkwardly located banner ad — placed over the playing field itself — that will instantly yank you out of the game every time you accidentally touch it (although, judging from its location, these accidents were likely engineered on purpose).
All of these issues are sadly unfortunate, as Gold Miner Rescue — assuming the game was built for fun, rather than just for mining a path straight to your credit card — would actually contain a great deal of potential in its setup. While I’m not sure anything could be done to make the tunnel making more precise, given that you draw them with your fingers, giving players limited tools per level — as per Lemmings — would go quite far. However — until such changes happen — your chances of digging up any gold-filled fun here seem about as optimistic as the gold-finding success rate experienced by the cast of the History Channel’s Gold Rush (specifically during the show’s first two seasons).
Although Gold Miner Rescue’s premise definitely contains much promise, the game’s current imprecision — mixed with a suicidal AI — so far only yields much frustration for anyone attempting this journey. At the moment you’ll either need to endlessly redo the same puzzle over and over (usually because the AI decided to die), or you’ll need to endlessly shell out cash on IAP-based solution devices. You’ll also find yourself constantly closing advertisements you’ve inadvertently opened up, since the game’s banner ads have all been placed directly on top of prime screen real-estate.