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Crystal Mines II - or more related to Chip's Challenge that you may think - JDGP030302 - 06-Sep-2020

Hello everyone, i want to talk (well, write) about this neat action puzzle game called Crystal Mines II, created by Ken Beckett.
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 EDIT: There is an in interview with Ken Beckett and C. Scott Davis here. Another one with only Ken here.
 The premise is simple, you use a remote controlled robot to explore a mine in another planet and search for crystals while destroying and avoiding monsters. At a first glance the game may look like Boulder Dash, but it is a different experience. First, the movement is smooth and not grid based. Also, the robot can attack enemies by firing energy balls at them. Each level have a crystal quota, completing it makes the exit appear. Most also have a time limit. Points are given for enemies and obstacles cleared, complete and also collect crystals over the quota, items and bonuses (gold, silver and copper).
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 The first level of the game
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 The crystals: white (10), red (7), green (5), purple (3), yellow (1).
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 These 4 liquids are slime (green), mud (brown), tar (black) and lava (red).
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 Before CC2 had the transmogrifier, this game had yellow transmutation pipes. 
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 Crystals and enemies can go trough pipes, but not the robot.
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 These enemies can be blown to get crystals.
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 Bombs are important not only to blow enemies, but also to solve some puzzles.
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 Treads for liquids, saw for blocks, parasol for boulders, radioactive protection for radioactive things, shield for explosions and fireball for smashing. No hint tiles, though.
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OOPS!
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 The game also takes some ideas from Chip's Challenge (another Lynx game) such as the 4 letters passwords, giving names to the levels (some of them being puns, references or hints) and the ability to skip levels. Not only that, C. Scott Davis created levels for both this game and Chip's Challenge 2. Read some similarities about the 2 games here.

[attachment=1729] [attachment=1739]
 This level style is similar to CC2 Seven Up and Down and Out, no?

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 Something neat about this game is the presence of bonus levels. While the regular grey exit takes the robot to the next level, the multi colored one is for accessing them.

 As if 150 levels, 30 bonus levels and also a secret one were not enough, the game received an expansion pack called Buried Treasure. Other than the fact that it have (in my opinion) too many filler levels that are just variations of another one (sometimes even from the original!), it is worth playing for those that liked the original. That expansion pack have 109 levels, 15 bonus levels and also a secret one that is password exclusive.

 Also while it was originally created for the Atari Lynx, the game is available for Nintendo DS and iOS, those versions allows saving scores and have the levels of the expansion pack.

 If you have the opportunity to play this games don't miss it!

 Related games:

 Crystal Mines: An unlicensed NES game made by Ken Beckett and published by Color Dreams. Features 100 levels, the last 50 are reversed variants of the first 50 but with some elements altered and different quotas and time limits. All of the elments of II first appeared here, although with different behaviors. The author released the source code for this game.

 Exodus: Ken mentioned in an interview that after Color Dreams turned their attention to Wisdom Tree, Ken allowed them to modify Crystal Mines (I) and make some changes to the code and replace the graphics. This game was the result.

 Joshua: A sequel to Exodus made by Wisdom Tree, featuring 100 original levels with the last 50 being reversed variants of first 50. Also, it adds new game elements, some borrowed from CM2 and some original. Notably it have passwords, 20 bonus levels plus a secret one.

 Chip's Challenge 2: C. Scott Davis created some levels for this game after working on Cristal Mines I & II. As previously mentioned, some level names and design styles of his levels are shared between CC2 and CM2.


RE: Crystal Mines II - or more related to Chip's Challenge that you may think - ncrecc - 03-Oct-2020

How many mechanics does this game share in common with Chips? Is there a download of it anywhere, btw? Very interested


RE: Crystal Mines II - or more related to Chip's Challenge that you may think - JDGP030302 - 03-Oct-2020

Well, as one of the interviews says, Ken explicitly said that he borrowed some ideas from Chip's Challenge and they basically are the ones that i mentioned in the text. The main differences are the smooth non grid based movements and being able to shoot the enemies. However, it also have a decent amount of Sokoban style block pushing mixed with Boulder Dash style (well) boulders. Also, the only CC1 enemy pattern not present is the "random mover" (blob). Funnily, the "slow chaser" (teeth) of this game is a gas creature that pass through most walls. Due to the smooth movement the directional control needs to be pressed for a little before the block moves but it is only annoying if a lot of monsters are near.

 As for playing the game, the Lynx ROM of the regular version is in AtariAge, easily accessible just like CC1 Lynx. The expansion pack is sold by Songbird (the web of that company is in one of the interview links) and is harder to find as a ROM. If the iOS version is still in the App Store, i don't know, and i am pretty sure that the NDS version is not being sold anymore. If you go for emulators, then let me tell you that MAME/MESS is my choice. You can use overclocking to completely eliminate slowdowns,  but since the volume is rather low i felt it was obligatory to set it to 2.0 instead of the default 1.0. Another choice is Mednafen, but i haven't used it's Lynx emulation a lot. I hope this helps.