Super Motherload capitalizes on a concept that most gamers secretly (or not so secretly) embrace: repetition. We’ll shoot 500,000 people in an online multiplayer shooter, and we’ll mow down a few thousand enemies in a hack ‘n slash game, but many of us never stop to consider how ultimately repetitive this is, because we don’t care – it’s endlessly fun. Super Motherload takes this idea and forms an entire game around a simple premise: You’re in control of a mining rover, and its your job to endlessly dig for gems and minerals to exchange for money, which in turn is exchanged for upgrades and repairs. Rinse and repeat, and boom; Super Motherload has you hooked.
This adherence to such rudimentary game design is both charming and frustrating in Super Motherload’s case. The game tasks you with following a rather strict back-and-forth approach of digging and collecting, then returning to base to upgrade so you can dig further and collect more. Depending on the person, this will be exceptionally fun or simply maddening. I found the game’s upbeat soundtrack and simple premise an easy way to kill a few hours, and the overall structure of the game begs for gamers to relax and enjoy.
The aesthetics are very retro, and the gameplay very basic, lending Super Motherload a likable old-school feel. This works to its advantage; collecting the gems and minerals is as easy as drilling through the dirt, using a bomb or two to bust open blocks, and flying around in open spaces under the ground. Returning to base for fuel constantly can be initially annoying, but upgrading your rover’s fuel supply and cargo space begins to alleviate the issue.
In addition to upgrading the rover’s fuel supply, it’s necessary to consistently upgrade the drill itself, the hull, and aforementioned cargo carrying capabilities, and much more. Upgrading the rover’s smelter allows for combining gems and minerals to create things like new explosives to bust through rocks, and an upgrade to the drill will allow passage through previously impenetrable soil.
Super Motherload features a fun local co-op mode, though I was disappointed by the lack of an online component, as the game would be great fun while shooting the bull in a party chat. Additionally, the game’s multiple characters allow for repeated playthroughs and multiple endings to the game’s very basic story.
The final few minutes of the game culminate in an infuriating boss battle, despite the game having no battles throughout the rest of its eight hours of gameplay. These obnoxious last minutes of Super Motherload can easily put a damper on what is an otherwise thoroughly enjoyable game about digging, collecting, and upgrading. Even so, the game is a great way to relax and do something different, and that’s what makes it easy to dig. You know you saw that coming.
Fun upgrades with tangible benefits.
Random and agonizing final boss.