There’s been a heatwave where I live and it’s drained the life out of everything. I can’t seem to muster any enthusiasm. I try to play a game and my attention span melts like an ice cube and I’m bored within five minutes and turn it off. I haven’t got the patience for games to reel me in. Thank god I bumped into UnderMine.
It’s like a distilled version of Zelda on SNES. The moment I saw it, I perked up because it’s perky. It’s got that toy-like quality those old games used to have. A pixelated chunkiness you feel like you can almost reach out and grab. Chunky wooden tables and cobbled stone floors in a crumbly cave. Strong colours, bold shapes, and cellos plunking in the background. And energy: straight away energy. Characters waiting to be moved and a wizard impatiently calling me in from the other room to tell me I’m to go down and explore the caves and find out why we’re having earthquake tremors. And that’s it: motivation sorted in about a minute. Now: play.
Technically, UnderMine is quite a lot like Zelda too, if Zelda were confined to a dungeon. You run around fighting a host of friendly-looking enemies with your pickaxe, either swinging it or throwing it, while dodging traps and avoiding holes. You collect bombs to blow down barriers and reveal hidden areas, and you find keys to open locked doors. Along the way, you’ll find potions and power-ups, which you’ll collect with a spin and a triumphant arm held high. My favourite is a power-up for my ranged attack which makes my pickaxe ricochet off enemies like a pinball, meaning I can lob it at one enemy and then it independently cannons around doing my work for me.