An arcade version of Miner2049er has been a fantasy of mine for a long, long time. I’ve always felt like the game deserved an arcade release. I’ve even considered making my own fantasy arcade cabinet for it. I’ve searched high and low for even a rumor of an arcade version and came up with nothing.
Then, in 2020 I saw a post on Facebook from Steve Buckley in Canada showing off some of his recent arcade game marquee scores. Among them was a Miner 2049er marquee. The picture was pretty small but I immediately reached out to him to ask if he had any more details about it. He did not. I told him of my love for the series and he offered to give me the marquee for free since he did not have the same love as I. Of course I gratefully accepted.
I figured that this must be some home-made thing that someone with the same love for the game as I had. I figured they must have made their own arcade machine for the game and this was the marquee from it. However, the bottom of the marquee said “Nova Games of Canada” which is an actual legit arcade game maker. This made me wonder.
It took a pretty long time to finally get the marquee from Steve, but I finally did. Having it in my grubby hands made me want to dig more and find out if there was any way it could be from a legit arcade version. I scoured the internet to try to find a contact for Nova Games. I found nothing besides info about their other releases — Intrepid, Super Triv, Port Man, etc. No contact info though. On a whim, I searched an archive of my old emails. I turns out that I had previously been in contact with an actual Nova Games employee about another game they worked on — Spartan X2, a sequel to Kung Fu Master (Spartan X in Japan). I had an actual email address of someone from Nova! So I emailed them. Got no answer. Finally, I decided to try to look them up on Linkedin. That worked! The gentlemen’s name is Bruno Fontaine and he was very kind, and had some incredible answers for me.
Bruno: “…As for Miner 2049er, I completed the game development (Z80 Assembler) and it was, according to other staff playing it, great fun with the final version having 10 levels where some were horizontally extended (like the Bagman game) with smooth scrolling. These levels were not the same as the original 8bit computer game version. Unfortunately, I was told at the time that the agreement with the original author of the game fell through and we had to abandon the release at the 11th hour. I was never able to get my hand on my final prototype and many years ago, my previous boss told me that it was thrown away.”
Me: “Wow. Thanks for the amazing info anyway. So [was] the marquee I found originally on your game?”
Bruno: “Most likely. This is the same style as another game I developed 30+ years ago. An example:
This was developed at Nova Games.”
Wow, wow, wow. So this is confirmation that there WAS an arcade version of Miner 2049er in development!! And it is lost! But the marquee I got from Steve is surely legit! This is amazing. It makes me dream of what it must have been like, and I feel so lucky to have this marquee in the museum.
Hopefully some day Bruno or his boss will find more artifacts from this incredible lost treasure.