If you didn't already know, Amazon has their very own Android app store. It's just like the marketplace from Google, except Amazon runs it, meaning it has some subtle differences. One of those differences is that they give away a paid app for free every single day.
Today's free app is Gem Miner: Dig Deeper.
When I picked up my Android phone about a year ago, there weren't a huge amount of top, quality games available but Gem Miner was one of them and it quickly caught my eye.
As you may have figured from the title, Gem Miner is a mining game that players of Minecraft will be somewhat familiar with. You start off with the most basic supplies and must dig, dig and dig to find precious minerals like coal, gems and gold; once you've filled up your backpack, you can go back to the surface and sell it, allowing you to buy more supplies and better tools.
Unlike Minecraft, you do have to account for the structure of the mine as you dig. If you dig under some rock, it may well collapse on top of you, sending you back to the surface with the penalty of loosing your loot. You'll also have to build ladders or install lifts to help get yourself back to the surface. It's impossible to stay in your mine forever, though, you only have so much stamina and running out will mean a loot penalty.
Overall, I found the game to be a fun time waster for about 10 minutes, but I couldn't help but feel it got very repetitive very quickly. Perhaps Minecraft has spoiled me with its procedurally generated terrain that goes on for as far as you can walk, allowing you to really explore however you like, while Gem Miner is stuck with you spending the majority of your time digging and doing not much else.
The sheer success of Minecraft means that I'm likely not the only one to want to compare the two, which is perhaps a little unfair - Gem Miner is, after all, a mobile game. Yet despite this, I couldn't help but feel the game lacked depth, if you'll pardon the pun. There isn't much incentive to keep digging, other than to find more loot to help you dig more. Perhaps this would appeal to some people, but I expect a little bit more from games these days, even mobile games.
A year ago, Gem Miner was a worthy purchase for any Android owner, but as of late we have been spoiled with fantastic, quality titles like Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja, with plenty more down the pipeline. Still, if you can pick it up for free, can you really complain?
Gem Miner: Dig Deeper normally retails for $1.99, but it is available for free from the Amazon app store for all of today. The Amazon app store is, however, US only, but if you live outside the US and still want to be able to access it, there are a few things you can do. There's also a free version available on the Android Market.