Developer: Venan Entertainment
Price: $4.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.1

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★★
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★½

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

First off, I just want to let you know, dear leader.. er.. reader, that I love this game. Every once in a while you pick up a game and it just clicks. The concept, the controls, the graphics, all of it. While it would be hard for me to make any bold statements, it’s fair to say that Space Miner is on my list of favorite iPhone games out there.

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Space Miner, at its core, is just another Asteroids game. You aim the direction of your ship with the left stick and you hit the accelerator and fire with your right. Just like in Asteroids, there are asteroids flying around that you have to destroy, but in this one, instead of just fleeing for your life, it is up to you to blow them all up for your crazy uncles mining operation that becomes extremely indebted to the bank. 600 year loan indebted. Because of this bank debt, the evildoers have sent out mining drones to steal all of your ore, so it is also up to you to blow them up. Along the way, you gain money that you can use on upgrading your ship… and there are a ton of upgrades available from weapons to collector (tractor) beams. So many in fact that you can almost do an upgrade after every level if you so choose to.

While the core of Space Miner is just a mining operation, the game relies heavily on the extremely light hearted story pitting your uncle against the evil bank. The plot of the game is unraveled through numerous dialogue based cutscenes, and through some of the actions in the levels. Fortunately, the story is short and funny, so it is almost a treat when something pop up… and they pop up a ton. The story must be completed all the way through to beat the game, but there are so many levels that just involve mining that you could probably get through the game spending maybe 15% of your time on the story… for those of you who just want to blow things up.

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The real star of the game, other than the constant upgradeability of your ship and the good story, is the graphics and sound. The graphics run perfectly smooth on my 3G, and the loading screens look so nice that I really don’t even mind the wait. The ship runs great throughout the galaxy and looks different almost every level due to various upgrades that you can perform. The cutscenes, while not full motion, are graphically comparable to the cutscenes in Mass Effect and The Oregon Trail. The sound, which is almost as important as the graphics for setting the mood, are almost all comprised of banjo tracks. I typically don’t like the banjo in my video games, but the bluegrassy tracks in Space Miner are perfect for creating the desired feel.

I really can’t recommend this game enough. The RPG elements are fantastic, the story is great, and the graphics and sound are amazing. In a game like this, I would expect longevity to be a concern, but if you do everything in the game, it will probably take you 10-15 hours… and maybe more, to complete. At its current $4.99 price tag, the equivalent of 2/3 of a Chipotle burrito, I can easily consider Space Miner a must buy.

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