By: Casey Curran
Remember when getting a bunch of controllers was a no brainer when picking up a new system? Nowadays I have a shiny new PlayStation 4 with absolutely nothing I want to play that has four-player co-op. So PS4 time has mainly been delegated to passing around the controller between Call of Duty sessions; that is until Super Motherload came along promising a fun four-player, simultaneous co-op experience. One of the words in the description does not belong, care to guess which one?
Super Motherload is exceptionally polished for an indie title. The game is based around drilling through the ground and mining the various minerals you come across. There are also a variety of bombs to instantly destroy areas around you, letting you access areas you normally could not. Your driller is also equipped with hover capabilities for getting back up through previously drilled areas. Hovering has great physics to it, which make sense and add a little bit of trickiness to backtracking.
While not a technological wonder, Super Motherload’s style adds much needed charisma to its visuals. The 1980s’ cheesy sci-fi feel works well for the game, which will impress a number of gamers with its charm. When these elements are reduced, during the core gameplay, however, consisting more of just an underground arena, the game begins looking much blander.
The sound effects match its visual style well, which somewhat mitigates when the game is not using its aesthetic to the game’s visual advantage. Music is neither memorable nor annoying.
This is the part that pains me because I rarely see a game this polished from a downloadable title. Unfortunately, though, Super Motherload is a game with great mechanics built around a boring premise. The game consists of mining until you run out of cargo room or fuel, then hovering back up to sell your cargo, refuel, and go back to do it again. That’s a fine idea for the fundamentals of a game, yet Super Motherload does next to nothing beyond this.
There are two basic goals in Super Motherload: Upgrade your ship and push down further underground. The upgrades are well thought out, and in a different game they would work very well. The issue, however, is pushing down offers almost no reason to keep playing. There is occasionally dialogue giving insight into the history of the Martian planet you’re drilling, as well as a wealth of gold or platinum that requires strategic use of bombs to access.
These instances, however, were too few and far between, and it quickly became apparent that I was spending the vast majority of my time not being challenged or engaged in any way. The game simply became a time waster. Even co-op cannot help this, as all players share fuel. This just makes trips back and forth down more common, which gets progressively more annoying the deeper you dig.
Super Motherload is just missing something — a time limit, an objective beyond mining, enemies or hazards getting in your way, something… Combine this with how seemingly half my sessions ended with an application error, and Super Motherload was a very hard game to like.
Super Motherload is another game I did not particularly enjoy, yet would like to see the developers try again. Fill this with all kinds of traps and a variety of ruins to discover as you mine and it could become a very compelling little title.