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Cart #chinaminer-2 | 2023-10-03 | Code ▽ | Embed ▽ | License: CC4-BY-NC-SA

Version 2

  • Added Tutorial/How to play (❎ from title screen);
  • Music: you can now play the music at a slower tempo like in the original game;
  • Added: "Last score" in Stats page;
  • Fixed bug: jumping while easing on ladders (thanks to Pico-8 Gamer)


⬆️⬇️⬅️➡️ move
⭕️ [Z] Jump
❎ [X] Skip / continue / Start tutorial (from title screen)


The original game for Commodore 64 is "China Miner" by Ian Gray.
(c)1984 Interceptor Software.

How to play

Miner Wally is the only person to know the location of the Jade Mines belonging to the Pong Dynasty in China. On each of the 30 screens you must collect four objects (pickaxe, candle, lantern and jade vase) before collecting the key to move onto the next stage. As well as the platforms to negotiate you must also avoid the various creatures that populate the mine and if you touch any of them then you lose one of the nine lives, are sent to the start of the screen and all objects reappear. There are various obstacles to avoid or use like lasers, moving platforms and platforms that disintegrate when stepped on. Falling from heights also loses you a life.

As in the original, the game starts immediately hard and in the first stage you quickly have to make a few steps to the left and jump UP to avoid the creature coming straight towards you (and you can't jump up or diagonal due to the lethal stalactites above you).
Press ❎ in the title screen to play the tutorial, read the signs for info.
Here's a short gameplay video that should help you figure out how to beat the first stage and play in general.
For reference and hints on how to beat any stage there's this China Miner Longplay of the original C64 version.

Differences with original:

  • The original game was notoriously difficult and brutal, you started from the first level and had to redo everything after game-over. In this remake you can select the starting stage, so you can train and find the best strategy to finish each level (why not, in the shortest time, see Stats and Achievements);
  • You start with 9 lives instead of 5 (you still gain an extra life every 1250 points / 5 stages as the original)
  • Some collisions with blocks have been simplified and made less frustrating: for instance you can jump diagonally without hitting the head on platforms higher than 2 blocks from your ground (unless it's the stage ceiling);
  • You cannot get stuck jumping up over the stage ceiling as it happened in the original;

Stats page:

⬅️ from title screen.
Aside from the high score, it keeps track of your best performances:

  • Longest Run: how many stages you've managed to complete in a single game and the timing of the best run;
  • Total Time: (not to be confused with the best run time) this is the sum of all best times recorded for each of the 30 stages;
  • Average Time: is simply the above (total time) divided by the 30 stages, see Achievements;
  • Take-Away: how many jade vases you managed to carry home; in other words how many stages you've completed in a single game and reaching the exit the cave (finishing 30th stage, e.g. for a takeaway of 5 you might want to start from stage 26);

While in this page press ⬆️⬇️ to select the starting stage (this option is saved).

Achievements page:

➡️ from title screen.
Move ⬆️⬇️ for info on each achievement:

  • Hard stages: simply complete stage 1, 5, 12, 21, 28 earning a yellow star each.
  • Take-Away: as explained above for the Stats page, reach the exit after completing 3, 5, 7, 10 or 15 of the last stages;
  • Average Time: in seconds, to earn the first star you need an average of less than one minute, this should be pretty easy although this row of achievements will likely to be still all greyed-out until you play each of the 30 stages at least once (default time is 15 minutes for an unbeaten stage!); while an average under 40 seconds is more challenging but still doable as you improve your strategy during the training on each stage;
  • Longest Run: earn a star for each milestone (3, 5, 10, 20 and 30) of your game progress. These are the toughest stars of course since they need to be achieved in a single game, fifth star
    Upon reaching the "Reset" you still need to move up other 4 steps to enable the "Reset progress" command which is confirmed by pressing the ⭕️ [Z or C] button. This will wipe any saved progress, score, timing and preferences.


Pixel-perfect collision with the creatures;
P8scii for extra gfx (see post: One-Off GFX);
SFX bank swap (see Music below);

  • Flicker (off by default, turn it on only on executable, on webplayer/browser it'll flash inconsistently) 60fps flickering effects for colour blending and transparency; if enabled it'll try to emulate the C64 colour palette, Pico-8 has no cyan and purple;
  • Music (slow) you can turn the music off at some point, play it normal speed or slower (like in the original game);
  • Particles FX (on) collapsing floor and colliding with baddies;
  • Classic Moves / New animation: the Classic mode will animate Wally as in the original, facing you when idle, while activating "New animation" Wally will move more or less like in Manic Miner holding the pose, a little step while jumping, coming down the slides etc.


The background music "Maple Leaf Rag" composed by Scott Joplin (in the original China Miner by Chris Cox).
The Pico-8 version used in this remake is by @ericb and his player cart is available: Player Piano: Maple Leaf Rag. Fun fact: see my comment there about "China Miner flashbacks"


Thanks to:
@thisismypassword for creating Shrinko8;
again to @ericb for the music;
feedback/proofreading: @bikibird, @SmartAlloc, @merwok
Bugs reported: Pico-8 Gamer
you for playing the game!

P#134801 2023-09-23 18:16 ( Edited 2023-10-03 00:43)


Thank god for 9 lives and level select! I had forgotten quite how difficult this game was, but what a perfect port you've made. The music is stunning. The level design is madenning. I think my Saturday night has just got booked up.

P#134807 2023-09-23 18:50

This game is pure evil, but you are a saint for bringing it to us :).

I love being able to select the stages so I can play the ones I was never good enough to get to as a kid!

P#134809 2023-09-23 20:54

Thanks @phil and @2bitchuck I'm so curious to know from people who played the original.
In particular, I'd be also glad to know in general what's the Average ⏳ when you've played all the levels (just selecting them).
For instance, to test it on the webplayer here, I've replayed them all from scratch without focusing on speed and got an average of 45.44

P#134815 2023-09-24 00:20

this game is just unplesantly difficult. designer knows how to toture player

P#134819 2023-09-24 01:17

@OWD5238 it was one of the hardest platform game at the time and the curious choice is that difficulty is not really increasing linearly through the levels.
For this reason I suggest to try selecting stage 23 or 24, although they're basically near the end of the 30 levels I think they're way easier than most of the early levels.

P#134832 2023-09-24 09:19

@Heracleum it's an interesting observation about the level ordering. Generally the principle of introducing a single new element per level is a good one to follow, but China Miner seems to throw a lot of stuff at you early on ( I need to look at the levels individually to see when new elements stop being introduced ).

On the original I particulalry remember struggling through the early levels just to get to a new level with a single life left and die almost immediately with no idea what I was meant to be doing and then wondering if it was worth trying to redo it all just to get back to that point. So maybe some of the easier later levels were an attempt to give the player a bit of respite? Probably not - it's more likely a deadline or lack of playtesting.

Not finished the game yet, some of the mid teens levels are rage inducing.

P#134836 2023-09-24 11:41

@Heracleum I never finished the original, or even made it into the double-digit level numbers. I was always pretty bad at platform games, so it took me forever to make progress and at some point I quit trying :).

I haven't finished any of the levels on yours yet, but I will let you know how I do on time when (if?) I am able to!

P#134839 2023-09-24 13:16

A couple Tips & tricks:

  • As in the original, the laser emitter is considered as a platform you can step on, at least in three hard levels this really helps a lot;
  • You can fall from a remarkable height and still safely get the key. In a few levels this is evident and the only way to finish but at least one stage can be quickly finished this way even if the layout and key location doesn't immediately suggest so (still risky though).
P#134841 2023-09-24 13:35

Oh and yes it is possible to finish the whole game in a single run:

P#134933 2023-09-26 21:53

I did it!! I finally completed all levels! Such a relief...

Playing the game, the thing that kept me going was nostalgia and I'm not sure I would have continued without that. Some of the levels (5, 12 and 15 !!!) are stupidly difficult and the start of level 1 is a ridiculous way to introduce people to this game. However once you get into the flow and you can understand the level layout the game becomes fun with a real sense of achievement on completing each level.

Ultimately the main thing this cart has done is made me like this game and that is due to Heracleum's changes to the format. I'm no speedrunner, but the addition of the level complete times made me go back to some levels and take my completion time from 2 minutes down to 40 seconds or so. The C64 original was not fun. It's too tough without the ability to practice the different stages and an infinite life cheat just means you get stuck on a hard level.

A blooming good mega zap indeed! And I finally got to see the ending!

P#134954 2023-09-27 11:15

I don't think I'm going to improve on this time - Average: 44.68

P#135101 2023-09-29 13:29

@phil excellent results! Thanks a lot for playing in its entirety 👌

A bug was found by Pico-8 Gamer (he actually found it in Dinky Kong but this cart inherited it) so I'm going to update it with the fix soon but I'd also want to add a tutorial stage where new players can see how to actually play it instead of immediately being overwhelmed with the first brutal stage, I totally agree with your "the start of level 1 is a ridiculous way to introduce people to this game".

Meanwhile if you're curious on how to safely beat levels (e.g. shortcut on Horace goes walkabout), here's a full playthrough I've recorded today, all the 30 stages finished in a single run (fails included, see Chapters to conveniently jump directly to each stage):
China Miner Playthrough (Pico-8)

Thanks a lot!

P#135178 2023-10-01 01:20

Version 2 is now available!
It fixes a bug and adds Tutorial/How to play!

Please let me know if you find typos or awkward sentences in the How to play


P#135314 2023-10-03 00:56

Love the training level. Its a really nice addition, in particular the demonstrations of height fall survival and how to beat the first part of level 1.

P#135396 2023-10-04 10:19

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