Atari’s 8-bit computers, the Atari 400 and 800, had this arcade-flavored title released for them in 1982 from Big Five Software. Miner 2049er was an addicting platformer, one of the earliest, which pit “Bounty Bob” in a race for points by running along floors to color them in as he “claimed” them.
He could jump and climb ladders, like good ol’ Mario could in Nintendo’s Donkey Kong, but his goal was to get around the screen and color in every inch of flooring by walking over it. Once he covered every inch of floor, that station was “claimed” and he moved onto the next one. Now whether it was a slice that he had to get to by jumping up along a series of platforms, or in using one of the teleporters to get from floor to floor on the screen, he also had to deal with the monsters lurking about. There was even a timer counting down how much time you had left to finish the level with. Lives were also in limited supply.
Power ups like pickaxes and shovels temporarily turned dangerous monsters into walking smiley faces for him to destroy simply by running into them. There were also slides attached to each floor, some of which were chained together to send you all the way to the bottom of the screen. One clever trick was to slowly nudge your way across the floor to get a pesky uncolored block over a slide without slipping down it a pixel later. Later stations also had other traps and puzzle-like obstacles to get around, such as a cannon or smashing pulverizers. The manual was surprisingly descriptive of what you’d find after leading off with a page or two of fiction.
The sound effects were pretty impressive at the time along with the action helping to deliver an arcade experience on Atari’s computers which weathered the impending crash far better than the company’s consoles did. It was later ported over to a wide variety of platforms from the Apple II in the same year to platforms such as the ColecoVision, Commodore 64, and even Windows mobile devices today. You can even download a Windows remake for your PC from Acoders if you want to try out an updated version of the classic sporting new graphics and sounds. There’s even a little story involved.
Miner 2049er got one of the more colorful ads of the day with a full page spread covered in art. Though you didn’t get a donkey in the game to help out, the glowing nugget with the protagonist’s name plays into the uranium mine backstory the game came with. A few screens show off what the game looked like, though the guy you control looked more like a drill sergeant or park ranger than a miner thanks to that hat. And retail price? $49.95 bought you the 16kb game cartridge. Back then, however, games like this were worth it. A fun arcade game that still holds up even with a new splash of pixelized coveralls for this old miner.