Several years back XGen Studios released a free flash game called Motherload. The basic concept involves mining deep into the crust of Mars, gathering resources before your fuel runs out, and returning the lode to the surface for upgrades. Now XGen is developing a four-player PS3 sequel that refines the original formula. I got hooked on the satisfyingly simple game during the Game Developers Conference this week in San Francisco.
Players use the analog stick to dig through the dirt on a hunt for minerals, artifacts, and extra fuel. Your rig’s big drillbit eats through the soil similar to Dig Dug. Burrowing through the planet requires strategy. Your rig can’t dig upwards, and big falls will damage you. Thankfully you’re equipped with a helicopter attachment to help slow descents and fly back to the checkpoint for more fuel. At checkpoints you can do more than fill your tank. Minerals and other precious resources are traded for cash, which can be used to upgrade health, drill speed, rig durability, and more.
Three other players can join locally to help dig towards the end-game. Players’ individually upgraded fuel reserves stack on top of your current capacity. Players are fenced in within the same screen, so teammates have to cooperate for efficient mining.
The lack of enemies in Super Motherload, its simple concept, and colorful visuals make it a game that’s easy to lose yourself in. Before I knew it, I had played the game for nearly 30 minutes on the crowded GDC Play show floor. It may not look like much at first glance, but the tight feedback loop makes it hard to put down. Super Motherload is destined for PC, Mac, and PS3 sometimes this year.