They better not unionize!

Micro Miners owes its existence to Markus “Notch” Persson, but not in the way you might think. Far from being one among the many blocky world-building sandboxes operating in the shadow of Minecraft, Jean-Philippe Sarda’s fifth game digs deeper. Its muse is Miners4K, a little known java game developed by Notch in 2006. The result is something completely original; a gem excavated from the finds of the past.


Held every year since 2005, the Java 4K competition challenges developers to build the best game they can using the JavaScript programming language. The catch? The mini-masterpieces have to come in at no more than 4KB in file size! Six years ago, Notch took top honors with a game that has you digging tunnels with legions of little workers in an attempt to collect precious gold and bring it back to the surface. After playing it himself, however, Sarda got lost in the mines, thinking of ways to expand on what he’d seen. 

Six years later – the last two of which have been spent developing this particular idea – and Micro Miners is just about ready to come up for air…and player reactions. The iOS title is a much more fleshed out arcade-puzzler which similarly revolves around the control of a vast horde of tiny diggers. Here, however, the screen is constantly scrolling downward, and it’s your job to collect all the available deposits of gold, silver, and coal that you see. Any missed resource represents a strike, and the level is considered failed if you miss three chances to collect. Further adding to the chaos is the fact that any miner left behind is lost indefinitely to the black nothingness beyond the screen. They may work together, but there’s no Saving Private Ryan here. 

Microminers     Microminers

Instead, you’ll have to rely on fast reflexes and ore-solid judgement in choose ing where you excavate the land and how you divide labour among your ever-obedient crew. A degree of excitement and randomness are also introduced through power-ups, collectible items that increase the number of your miners, and painfully destructive giant worms that careen through the underground. Sarda jokingly recalls a Youtube comment dubbing the game “Where’s My Lemmings,” and while he says that’s not exactly true, a game could draw much worse comparisons than Where’s My Water? and the classic group-management puzzler. 

You’ll be able to see how accurate the analogies are yourself though very soon, as Micro Miners releases before the end of the year on iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch for $0.99, with no in-app payments. Sarda is also determined to support all devices, joking that when development started, he was using an iPhone 3G. So whether it’s the new iPhone 5 you’re holding or a second generation iPod touch, you’ll soon be micro-mining to your hearts content.