Absolutely Unstoppable Mine Run (Wii U eShop) Review
I want to preface this review by saying that Absolutely Unstoppable Mine Run is not a bad game. It’s a perfectly serviceable game; it’s simple to pick up, fun to play, and it’s certainly challenging enough. Sadly, it’s marred by strange design choices, an unreasonably steep difficulty curve, and gameplay that left me wondering, “Why isn’t this on mobile instead?”
Absolutely Unstoppable Mine Run has the player take control the unnamed Mine Runner as he races upwards through a maze of jumps, away from an ever-rising sea of lava. Mine Runner will run in one direction until he hits a wall, after which he’ll turn around and run in the other direction. The only control the player has is to press A to jump, and press it once more to double jump; it’s a simple, one-button affair. Think Super Mario Run meets Doodle Jump.
While the controls might be simple, the levels themselves are anything but. They start simple, as all good games do, with the levels designated “Easy” taking no more than 30 seconds and less than a dozen jumps. But once you get past the easy levels and onto “Normal”, the difficulty ramps up at an insane rate. The sea of lava rises much more quickly, the jumps get tighter and the collectables, which consists of gems scattered throughout the level, become much harder to collect. If you manage to clear the normal difficulty, you’ll be met with an even more extreme increase in difficulty in the “Hard” and (appropriately named) “Nope” levels.
On top of this sits an extremely frustrating wall bounce system that soon becomes integral to completing each and every level. If you hit a wall while jumping, you’ll bounce off in the opposite direction. It’s not quite a wall jump like you’d see in Super Mario Run, which makes it annoying when you just hit the corner of a block you’re trying to jump onto. Most of my frustration when playing Absolutely Unstoppable Mine Run came from this wall bounce. In later levels, it’s clear that the game expects you to time your jumps around it; jump into the wall and jump after you’ve bounced to get the angle you need to land on the platform you need to be on.
The frustration comes from how inconsistent this mechanic is. There were some levels where I would make the same jump over and over again and get wildly different results. Either the wall bounce was screwing me over, or the game expected me to time my jumps with inhuman, pixel-perfect accuracy, neither of which are particularly conducive to an enjoyable game experience.
You can also hold the ZL trigger to speed up the game, though I’m not sure why you would bother beyond trying to increase your score. This not only increases the speed at which the Mine Runner, well, runs but also increases the speed at which the lava rises. There is a scoring system that awards points for collectables you obtain and jumps you make while holding the speed-up button and the game also sets a target score for the player to hit if they want to get 100%. I’m not sure, however, that it’s actually possible to hit the target score in any of the levels, as it’s often far too high to be achievable. The first level has a target score of 70; with the speed-up button held down the entire time and every gem collected, the highest score I could reach was 39.
You’ll want to get 100% too, if you want to unlock endless mode, in which you jump forever upwards with no goal in sight. At least, I assume that’s the case, since I was totally unable to reach the target score in a single level. In fact, there were a few levels I couldn’t even complete in the first place. Even after hours of practice, most of the “Nope” levels were just too difficult and too precise, leaving me feeling like I’d wasted a sizable portion of my day with no meaningful reward to speak of. Perhaps a person with much more patience and much more time than I have will find these levels fun, but I couldn’t bring myself to dedicate an entire day to finish one level.
What’s worse is that each death screen is accompanied with a condescending and often cringe-worthy taunt, such as “u ok hun? xx,” which I assume is meant to urge the player to beat the damn thing, but only made me want to play the game even less. That said, I did have a small chuckle to myself when the death screen prompted me with “Miner setback?” So it’s not all bad news.
As negative as I’ve been about the game, Absolutely Unstoppable Mine Run does have one saving grace in its multiplayer mode. In the multiplayer mode, called “Describe and Draw,” the player with the gamepad is given a word prompt which they must draw on the screen for up to four other players, who use a Wii Remote to control a Mine Runner in an endless ascent.
The drawing obscures the screen, which can make platforming difficult for the runners and can only be cleared when the runners correctly guess what the picture is and yell it out. If the runners correctly guess the drawing, their score is increased and time is added to the countdown timer, which starts at 60 seconds. If time runs out, it’s game over.
I had more fun with the multiplayer mode than the single player campaign and I suspect a part of that is down to the people I played with, but it’s nonetheless a fantastic experience for both the drawer and the runners.
If it were a mobile game, I might be inclined to play it on the bus to work or while I’m waiting for large downloads to finish. But since the Switch has launched, my Wii U remains largely unused and disconnected, and Absolutely Unstoppable Mine Run doesn’t have enough going for it to justify plugging everything in just to play it. It might be the same for you. That said, you’ll more or less get your $5 worth from the experience.
As I said at the beginning of this review, Absolutely Unstoppable Mine Run is not a bad game. It’s solidly built and runs with little issue, it’s fun to play in short bursts and the multiplayer is remarkably fun for all involved. That said, the issues it does have are so frustrating that I doubt I’ll be playing much of it unless all of my other games suddenly stop working and I’m desperate for something to play.
Fantastic multiplayer experience
Cheap as chips
Extreme difficulty curve
Endless mode locked behind impossible target scores