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GAME REVIEW: Platformines

Platformines is a platform-jumper shooter that takes place in a mine (who would have guessed?) It was released by Magiko Games in March 2014.

The basic premise is that you are a member of a crew that mans an underground excavation vehicle called the Robodig. It has broken mid-dig and scattered the nine block cannons that could be used to repair it. The mines are filled with hostile monsters of various shapes as well as hostile weapon-toting humans. At any given time the location of the next block cannon is marked on your map as well as providing a directional arrow and distance on the main play screen. So you have to navigate through the maze-like mines fighting hostiles all the while to get to each cannon until you’ve collected all nine.

You start out with a small carrying capacity, a small health reserve, and a very weak pistol. The Robodig acts as a home base which will heal any injuries, allow you to save your game, and provide storage space for your block cannons and any other items you want to store so they don’t take up your inventory. As you explore the mines you find portals which will allow you to jump back to home base so you can sell the stuff you’ve collected, buy new stuff, heal up, and save. And then from home base you can teleport to any portal you’ve jumped through, which makes the sprawling nature of the mines easier to navigate even as you explore further and further from the Robodig. There are four kinds of weapons: pistol, shotgun, machine gun, rocket launcher. The attributes of each are generally what you’d expect–shotgun is powerful and has a spread shot but short-range, pistol has long-range, machine gun has rapid fire, missile launcher is powerful but can cause yourself splash damage. Any weapon has unlimited ammunition–you can fire everything in the gun before having to wait for a reload delay and each gun has its own ammo capacity and reload time.

The difficulty of enemies is arranged in concentric rings centered on the Robodig. As you get further away the enemies take and give more damage and take more varied forms. At the same time, the power of the weapons dropped in those areas tends to be much higher as well as the value of the jewels. You can die, but you have a life insurance contract through the mining company that will resurrect you back at the Robodig. Downside: You have start at the nearest portal again so you have lost some progress, you lose any unequipped items including jewels that you could have sold for salvage money, and the insurance company takes a certain percentage of your cash. Upside: you keep any equipped items, the enemies you killed on your fatal run stay dead, and the map area you uncovered on your failed run stays mapped. The percentage of money lost isn’t a bad way to go for the most part–at the beginning of the game when you’re most likely to die you also don’t have a lot of money to lose, but as you get more competent the stakes go up, as long as you’re saving up for something you don’t want to backslide in your money-hoarding.

When I started playing the game I thought it was a lot of fun. I died pretty frequently at the beginning, but the penalty for that was low enough since I had not much cash anyway that it wasn’t discouraging. Since I only had a weak and slow-firing pistol a lot of that early time was spent taking potshots while carefully maintaining distance. I upgraded my health as fast as possible at the shop and that dropped the challenge significantly so I was able to progress faster through the game until I had to proceed into some tougher monsters as I ventured out into the rings. But as I picked up weapon drops, the challenge evened out some again. As the challenge of the game evened out, it started to get pretty tedious. Even though the monsters in the progressively more difficult rings were somewhat different in form it still felt like much the same. And once I bought the best health levels and bought the best carrying capacity, I was no longer saving up for anything and insurance penalty for dying became unimportant so instead of trying hard not to die I just kind of slipped into feeling like it was a job routine–the game had promised I was collecting these block cannons to let me fix the Robodig so I wanted to see what that part of the game was like and I wanted to see the end. About the last four of nine block cannons I just felt were tedious and I just wanted to try the repair thing already.

One thing that I found irritating was that the enemies weapons did not hurt each other or themselves. This was especially annoying when I came across enemies with rocket launchers. They’d fire them willy-nilly whenever you came near and they’d frequently be in a constant stream of their own explosions with no damage to them. I’m guessing the developers turned off friendly fire for the enemies because otherwise rocket-toting enemies would consistently commit suicide. Well, if that’s the case, then maybe the AI needs some work so they’re not so terminally stupid, instead of just turning off friendly fire.

When I finally got to the repair segment of the game, I found it wasn’t worth the wait at all. It wasn’t any kind of effort other than spending a moment figuring out what the best ordering for putting the miner together was and that was a minor effort–going through the actual repair just ended up being tedious too. And the ending was nothing worth the effort of getting to it.

Adequate for what it was.

Not a fan of the soundtrack. The song I remember was an extremely fast paced and rather annoying rendition of In the Hall of the Mountain King. But the game doesn’t need the sound, so can always turn it off.

Varying levels of challenge depending on which ring of difficulty you are occupying, how much you’ve upgraded your health, and the power of your weapons. The poor pacing of the challenge is the primary reason why I wouldn’t recommend this game. The insurance fee on the character dying gave a useful incentive to stay alive at the beginning but that lost its effect as soon as you had nothing to save up for. The second half of gameplay to reach the ending descended into tedium. The final challenge of rebuilding the Robodig wasn’t even remotely challenging.

Not much of it.

Session Time
The game was easy to play in short bursts as I usually play games. You could save at the Robodig and you could port there any time you found a portal, so it was easy to spend a few minutes, hop to the furthest discovered portal, try to push on until I find another portal, hop back and save again.

Easy enough. Movement and jump keys, four directional firing keys so you can fire your gun in any cardinal directions regardless of your movement. Four buttons to switch between each of the major gun types you can equip.

The world is procedurally generated based on the name you give it, so theoretically this provides extended appeal for replay. If you enjoyed your first run through the game that might be appealing to you.

Pretty standard platformer.

It took me about 6 hours to play through to one ending.

It was fun at first, but between poor challenge pacing, not enough variation in enemies or layouts to keep up the interest, and just a generally extended duration that the quality of playtime doesn’t merit. Neither the final repair sequence nor the ending were worth pushing through the tedium. You can find plenty of better platformers out there. You’d be better off saving your money for something else. The game costs $10 on Steam.

About David Steffen (64 Articles)
David Steffen is a writer and editor and software engineer and a voracious consumer of podcast fiction. The first piece of fiction he's edited is now available, "Taste the Whip" by Andy Dudak on Diabolical Plots( David is also the co-founder and administrator of the The Submission Grinder(, a tool for writers.
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