Jan 27 2018

Late Super Motherload Review

This maybe seen as some sort of clone to SteamWorld Dig (which there seems to be a cult following of), but with the inclusion of 4 player co-op and a vehicle that flies, it’s quite a fun indie take on digging through Mars’ crusts to uncover the mystery of the red planet.

So this indie game was provided free in a Playstation plus bundle a few months ago. I had no idea at the time what the game was about, but having installed it, the initial soundtrack was intriguing enough upon booting up to hook me within the first few seconds. The game turned about to be essentially SteamWorld Dig, which for anyone not familiar with the genre including myself, is a game where you dig down through the depths, looking for resources to take back upto the surface, with a story that progresses usually the further down you go. In SteamWorld Dig, you’re a robot inheriting his uncle’s old mining equipment and seeking out treasures that your uncle left behind. In Super Motherload, we’re a worker and their drilling machine working for a mining corporation, digging through Mars’ layers looking for minerals and resources to send back to Earth. There’s a story to be discovered here, buried under the layers of dirt, but it’s going to take some grinding to uncover, perhaps a few hours of digging.

Now one thing this game really has going for it I believe is that there is a multiplayer/co-op aspect in which doesn’t exist in SteamWorld Dig, so if you’re already tiring of playing Dig, I’m sure the co-op aspect is a breath of fresh air. Sadly, I had no one to try multiplayer with to review :'(

The combinations of metals to look out for whilst collecting keeps you on your toes, looking out for close by resources to make much more valuable alloys using an upgraded smelter, in which the money gained goes towards unlocking upgrades for your vehicle, that includes increases in cargo hold, fuel tank capacity, hull damage resistance, speed of drilling and flying plus other bonus attributes, which are certainly needed for longer digging expeditions, accelerating the amount of money earned and for the showdown at the end of the game. Whilst digging down, you will be blocked by obstacles such as rocks or metal plates, which you use bombs to get past. There are some mini-puzzles in regards to bomb placement to gain access to valuable resources, something else to remain switched on for.

The fact that the game is called Super Motherload, makes you wonder throughout the game what that motherload cache would be when we finally discover it. I wasn’t at all let down when I did finally find out what was at the end, and as it then turns out there are multiple endings to the game, there’s now some replayability here if you wanted to do it all again, which is fine to do I imagine if you have a stream in the background to keep your brain engaged for these repetitive playthroughs. There is also a hard mode to tackle the game on. Now I’m sure what exactly this entails, but in normal mode, seeing as there aren’t any monsters to face off against whilst digging down unlike in SteamWorld Dig that is crawling with enemies and traps, I’m not exactly sure how hard hard-mode could get if there possibly still aren’t any monsters to face off against.

What I do have to rave about is that the music throughout the game is on point. Someone was putting the work in at the studio when this was made. Some great tunes that I might comeback round to downloading the soundtrack to.

It’s nice to find a game that can run at 1080p 30fps on the PS3. It just goes to show that there’s still some life in the console yet.

The narrative for Super Motherload was mediocre. Pretty obvious in the first 5 seconds that there’s something ominous going on. The radio calls you receive throughout the game are just splashes of story, maybe asking you to go out and locate certain objects to advance, otherwise the sole mission is to just keep digging down and collect resources on the way.

The final segment of the game/map is just absolutely chock full of treasures. I tried to rush through this part and just dig straight down, but ran out of resources such as bombs to progress very far, so even though I tried to speed things up and complete the game in 5 minutes, I did have to spend a further couple of hours mining all these treasures to essentially fully upgrade the vehicle and be able to progress all the way down to the final challenge. Now I don’t know how I managed it as usual, but I succeeded to gather just enough resources to complete the final phase, using essentially every single dollar, repair tool and bomb I had in my arsenal to win. At the end of the game, there’s a big decision you can make. I actually timed out on making my decision, unlocking possibly a secret ending which was interesting, aswell as unlocking a new character for any further playthroughs. I’d also managed to unlock a character earlier on in the game by not pressing start during the intro of the game for 30 seconds as I was just listening to the music, so that’s there for any completionists out there. There aren’t many trophies to be gained in the game, and will require the multiple playthroughs, which really isn’t my thing I’m afraid.

My playthrough took me 7.5 hours to complete, and the game was fun enough to play throughout in 2 hour segments at a time. I do recommend definitely having a stream playing in the background, otherwise playing the game with local friends. The injection of music at times was always entrancing, and in a way, the game was a good way to relax, essentially just numbing your brain and just switch off slightly into a bit of a stupor. Definitely one of the better indie games that I’ve played in a while, keeping me engaged enough to complete the game, and I am again, now looking forward with continuing my playthrough of SteamWorld Dig that I haven’t yet completed. If you also received the game free with Playstation Plus, then I do recommend that you play the game yourself, and even leave the game just sitting on your PS3 drive, as I’m sure it’s something to boot up if you’ve got friends around and only takes up 380Mb of space.

As I was just about to publicly post this review to my website, I did do a quick google on Super Motherload and found out some of the history of the game and it’s studio creators, in that the game was originally created back in 2004 as Motherload, an online flash game, which was later released as a full game. Super Motherload is essentially the HD remake with many new features including the multiplayer, smelting etc. Sadly to hear, the creator of the game and of the studio, XGEN, died peacefully a few years ago at young age. To read that he had so much involvement in the early days of flash games, I am thankful for his efforts and for creating this pleasant, zen-esque addictive game.


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