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Video Game / Motherload

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Motherload is a flash Digging Game developed by XGen Studios in 2004. The game takes place on Mars sometime in the future in a small martian mining outpost. The player controls a lone mining pod and is tasked to drill underneath the planet's surface in search of valuable ores. The gameplay is based on the mechanics of Dig Dug, except that there are no Pookas and Fygars to be seen under the surface—the entire challenge of the game comes solely from navigating the hazardous Martian sub terrain for ore and hauling it to the surface alive with the mining pod intact and without running out of fuel. As the miner reaches deeper under the Martian surface, various clues and transmissions begin to hint at something larger and more sinister going on, of which the answer seems to be hidden even deeper under the planet.


Despite its infamously random Gainax Ending of sorts, Motherload is easily one of XGen's most popular, if not their most popular game to date. Another game based on the original, Super Motherload, was a launch title for the PS4. In addition to featuring HD graphics and local co-op multiplayer, it features new gameplay mechanics, multiple endings, and an optional "Hardcore" mode. Purchasers can also enjoy The Goldium Edition (Full version) of the original for free.


This video game provides examples of:

  • Acceptable Breaks from Reality: Marsquakes will only occur when on the surface, so they can't actually trap you underground. While being trapped is unlikely to happen, it's not really impossible.
  • Affably Evil: Mr. Natas, at first, who offers you money, congratulations, advice and safety warnings.
  • Artistic License – Chemistry: Einsteinium (atomic number 99) is a real element, but it only exists artificially (typically as fallout from nuclear weapons) and the longest-lived isotopes don't last more than two years.
    • Gold is way too soft to be practical as a mining drill.
    • Bronze is an alloy of tin and copper, and only occurs naturally in very rare circumstances.
  • Artistic License – Physics: The highest capacity fuel tank is a "Liquid Compression Tank". Liquids are barely compressible in real life.
  • Artistic License – Space: Mars doesn't have one big moon. It has two tiny ones.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Both forms of Mr. Natas.
  • Awesome, but Impractical
    • Flying mining machines!
    • A super-fast drill made of gold? Really?
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": Downplayed. The game inexplicably insist to call the first metals to be found (Iron, Bronze, Silver and Gold) as Ironium, Bronzium, Silverium and Goldium. The "-ium" suffix is derived from Latin, which added it to all their words for metals (Iron being Ferrum, Silver being Argentium and Gold being Aurum, with Bronze, an alloy, being Aes).
  • Cane Fu: Mr. Natas does this in his first form.
  • Collision Damage: Touching Mr. Natas will cause you to take damage. It also bounces you slightly and repeatedly, preventing you from setting off an explosive so you have to do so right before hitting him.
  • Colonized Solar System: Mars, obviously, and there's a friendly miner who mentions retiring to Jupiters' moons with his family.
  • Critical Annoyance: When the fuel tank gets close to empty, it starts beeping. When it reaches critical levels, the beeps happen so rapidly it's more like one long high-pitched note.
  • Critical Existence Failure: If you run out of fuel you violently explode. Why you do so when you're specifically out of fuel is not explained.
  • Deflector Shield: The highest quality hull is an energy-shielded one.
  • Devil, but No God: Played straight in the normal edition. In the Goldium edition, you can encounter Mr. Dog if you fly high enough.
  • Drill Tank: The drill can't damage the boss, ironically enough.
  • Dug Too Deep
  • Evil Is Hammy
    Mr. Natas: HAHAHA!! YOU FOOL!!! SEE YOU IN HELL!!!
    Mr. Natas: MWAHAHAHA! Imbecile! You really think you can defeat me? I am the master of all EVIL! BEHOLD MY TRUE FORM!!!
  • Fantasy Metals: Amazonite.
  • Fast Tunnelling: 120 ft per second for the amazonite drill.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: Other than the name, there is no clue.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Mr. Natas' provision of repair nanobots and explosives eventually led to his defeat.
  • Interface Spoiler: Inventory screen shows ore all the way up to Amazonium.
  • Money for Nothing: By the time you start mining Amazonite, you can sell it for 500 000$, which is the price of the higher-tier upgrades. A single mining run can get you every upgrade. Beating the final boss awards you an enormous amount of money, but at this point there's basically no point.
  • Nanomachines: Used as a one-time use item to repair hull damage without having to return to a shop.
  • One-Winged Angel: Mr. Natas' second form, which looks vaguely like a giant mechanical demonic tiger standing on two feet.
  • Readings Are Off the Scale: The meter starts to display as ?XXXXX with the Xs being random, rapidly flashing numbers after reaching -5800ft. On the boss level, it reads -66666ft.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: Mr. Natas' true form. Heck, he wears red and black and has RED EYES in his human form!
  • Retirony: The friendly veteran miner who is the only other worker left on Mars dies trapped underground after mentioning that he is a few days from retirement.
  • Sdrawkcab Alias: Mr. Natas.
  • Serial Escalation: There are 10 kinds of ores, from ironium ($30) to amazonite ($500,000).
  • Splash Damage Abuse: Mr. Natas' first form's laser monocle attack and second form's claw attack can hit through the ceiling of the boss level.
  • Stealth Pun: The final boss is...well, your boss.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: The dynamite and the more powerful plastic explosives. Around -1000ft rocks that cannot be dug into appears, and damaging lava pockets show up around -3000ft. Both must be dealt with explosives (because the best way to get rid of lava is to blow it up). Around -5000ft invisible natural gas pockets may blow everything next to you up like dynamite but also causes heavy damage, and the boss can only be defeated with explosives.
  • Teleportation: Comes in two variants, both from purchasable one-use items that bring you back to the surface. The Quantum Teleporter is cheaper but can malfunction and violently shove you into the ground, potentially killing you. The Matter Transmitter is more expensive, but has a perfect safety record.

Super Motherload Features the following tropes:

  • Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: There are stations at various levels underground so you don't have to go all the way back up to refuel and repair, although they charge you more. Potentially justified in that transporting the fuel and spare parts must be a challenge.
  • All There in the Manual: According to the backstory given in Super Motherload, the games take place in a timeline where the Cold War never stopped, and the United States and the Soviet Union now compete to mine ore on Mars.
  • Alternate History: Said to be set in a world where the Cold War ended differently.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: A lot of people's names are meant to sound Russian, and even one who is an actual historic character: Laika, the first dog to travel to outer space. One of the non-historic characters has the name Wintrov, which isn't a possible Russian name since Russian doesn't have a W sound.
  • Bird People: If Abaddon is any example, this is what the ancient martians were.
  • Last-Second Ending Choice: Do you side with Tiberius, or Abaddon?
  • Not His Sled: ...unlike the original game, Satan isn't the Big Bad. A space alien named Abaddon is.
  • Title Drop: Racking up a high enough combo will get you "Motherload".