Product Evaluations and Guides
Game Review: Less Is More with Mine Racer from 2MB Solutions
At the end of a long workday, sometimes it's nice to be able to escape reality for a while. Playing a game on your computer is a great way to make that happen. As much fun as it is to immerse yourself in a role-playing game, after you've spent all day filling out paperwork and planning your agenda for the remainder of the week, you may not want to make any more major decisions for the day, whether they are based in reality or not. Sometimes you simply want to allow your mind to relax and engage in an activity that doesn't require a lot of strategic thinking. In this article, we will take a look at a game that just might fit that bill.
Mine Racer from 2MB Solutions is based on a very simple plot. You are in a run-away cart inside a mine. Along the way, you will encounter gold coins, stalactites (calcium deposits formed as water drips from the ceiling of a cave), and pits. The objective is simple: you must jump to collect coins, duck to avoid the stalactites, and jump over the pits. It is best not to overthink this game, or you may find yourself wondering just how you would manage to jump a pit in a miner's cart if actually presented with that challenge.
There are a grand total of three keystrokes needed to play this game. The Up Arrow key allows you to jump for gold coins and to avoid pits, the Down Arrow key allows you to duck under the stalactites, and the Enter key pauses and restarts game play.
Obtaining and Installing Mine Racer
It is possible to obtain a demo of Mine Racer, or purchase a full copy. As the time of publication, the introductory game price of $5 is set to increase to $7.99 on May 1. Purchasers receive links to the game that will allow it to be played on your Mac, Windows PC, or a machine running Linux.
For the purposes of this article, the game was tested using the latest version of OS X for Mac, and Windows 10. When playing the game on a Mac, after the game file is placed in the Applications folder, it is a simple matter of opening the file in order to launch the game. Although the game is self-voicing, it is not necessary to turn off VoiceOver during game play.
When playing the game under Windows, the downloaded file must be unzipped to a folder on your hard drive from which the executable file can be launched. The game takes advantage of your Windows screen reader, or the game can be self-voicing if a screen reader isn't active. If you're using JAWS as your screen reader, you will want to use the I and K keys to play the game, instead of the Up and Down Arrows.
Playing Mine Racer
After launching the game, a very straightforward menu appears that allows the player to, among other things, view game instructions, learn game sounds, and, of course, begin game play. After the Play Game option has been activated, you will immediately hear the sound of your mine cart moving through the mine. To my ear, it sounds as though I am on a rather pleasant train ride through the countryside, but others may have differing impressions. This pleasant reverie will be interrupted by one of three possible sounds. If a jingling sound is heard--to me, this sounds like tiny sleigh bells--it is time to hit the Up Arrow key and collect some coins. If dripping water is heard, press the down-arrow key in order to avoid an approaching stalactite. The third possibility is a rather interesting sound that puts me in mind of either a swarm of bees, or cars on a race track--I've never quite decided which. This sound signals an approaching pit. In the early minutes of game play, there is a beep that will let you know when it is safe to press your Up Arrow key in order to jump over the pit. Later, you will hear a spoken prompt that the jump beeps have been disabled. From that point on, you must judge when to jump based on the sound of the approaching pit.
The thing that makes this game a challenge is that the longer you play, the faster your cart moves. Therefore, you must constantly adjust your reaction time when either ducking or jumping. Oddly enough, the sound of your cart never changes, so even after seven minutes of game play, you still have the sense that you are on a leisurely train ride. I believe that the game would be more enjoyable if the player could audibly hear the cart gaining momentum.
You can get extra points by collecting as many coins as possible, and by waiting until the last possible moment before you either duck under a stalactite or jump over a pit. At the end of each game, you are given a position on both the time scoreboard and the points scoreboard based on your previous game play. So, you might be 4th on the points scoreboard, but 1st on the time scoreboard. I have never made it much past nine minutes of game play. You are allowed to view your game stats at the end of each game and to copy your score to the clipboard should you wish to post your activities on social media.
Should you manage to fall into a pit, you will hear the classic sound of someone hollering as they descend to their demise. If you manage to crack your skull against a stalactite, you will hear a most authentic crashing noise that may have you reaching for a bottle of your favorite headache-relieving medication.
I was first introduced to Mine Racer thanks to a podcast on AppleVis. I found the price reasonable enough that I skipped the demo and simply purchased the game. I have found it to be surprisingly enjoyable and addictive, considering its simple nature. I find the game sounds to be realistic enough, although I would like for the sound of the mine cart to change at some point during game play, alerting me to the fact that things are about to become more challenging.
I would be willing to pay a little more money for the game in order to have access to various levels of game play with other challenging obstacles to avoid such as rocks, and possibly abandoned mine equipment. Perhaps it might be possible to incorporate other directional commands such as the ability to move left or right in order to avoid new challenges.
Finally, when you purchase Mine Racer, you are issued a unique set of links for your copy of the game, and these links eventually expire. That means that if a new update to the game is released, you will need to contact the game developers in order to be able to download the game once again. Perhaps a registration code might be issued in future, so that players can have access to new versions of the game at any time.
The developers of Mine Racer have another freeware audio game, Horseshoes, which I have not played as of the writing of this article, but you may find it enjoyable as well.
Game: Mine Racer
Available from: 2MB Solutions
Price: $7.99 for Windows, Mac, and Linux; free demo available. (According to this AppleVis forum, 2MB Solutions is tentatively considering a version of Mine Racer for iOS.)
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