Review by Halron2

"This game is so addictive, I had to delete it from my computer."

Most people, when looking at Minesweeper for the first time, immediately discard the possibility of playing it, judging it to be just one more of those freeware games. When playing it for the first time, they will be overcome with frustration, clicking on mine after mine. But, after getting the hang of it, it could be said that this game is one of the most addictive experiences ever conceived by man, rivaling the ruler of all things addictive, Tetris. Like I said, I had to delete the game from my computer after a while, because I just couldn’t stop playing it.

It all starts when you have your computer on, have nothing to do (for example – downloading stuff on the Internet, waiting for a reply in a chat, and so on) and you start to play this little game. Before you know it, hours and hours have gone by and you’re still trying to break your time records. And when you finally set a new one, you can bet that beating it will be your next goal in life. I once beat the experienced mode in 70 seconds, but, for some irrational reason I can’t explain, I was convinced I could do better... and I kept on playing.

The game mechanics here are very simple: you have a ‘field’ of varying size, filled with squares. Each square may contain a mine or not. If you click on mine, you guessed it, game over. No lives, continues or that sort of thing, which means you must clear the whole field without taking a single hit. But how do you do that? When you click on a square that doesn’t contain a mine, the square now turns into a number from 1 to 8, which represents the number of mines in the vicinities (diagonals included) of this current square. With a reasonable amount of wits, you can clear up those fields in no time. To make things easier, you can mark squares with a flag, indicating that there is a mine in there, but you will lose some time in doing that. You can also put a question mark on squares if you’re not sure if there is a mine there or not.

A lot of people regard Minesweeper as a hard game, but it really depends on the difficulty level you’re playing on. It can vary from incredibly stupid to mind-blowingly hard. There are three sets of difficulty levels (something like easy, normal and hard) and, apart from that, there is a ‘custom map’ feature included, so that you can set the number of squares and mines in the field, to create the extremely easy or the simply impossible stages.

The great thing about the game is try to develop your own logical ways of discovering whether there are bombs or not in the squares surrounding the ones you’ve already freed. However, after you develop these strategies, there is still the frenetic clicking involved in beating the time records. After a while, you’ll just forget about putting the flags on squares and go for what I’d call the ‘pure’ game, that is, just clicking on the squares you believe that are empty. Although it makes the game a good deal harder – you will lose a lot of the reference the flags give you – it also makes the game faster and more addictive.

There is no point at all in trying to judge the game on any kind of artistic pretensions, like visuals, sounds or story. Simply because there aren’t any. Well, actually there are visuals. Obviously. And one of the simplest, most clean I have ever seen. It consists of a gray window with gray squares and a smiley face that is your ‘character’ when you’re about to click on square, it makes a tense face, when you beat it, it makes a cool face, when you die, well, it dies. There actually is no sound in the game at all, like many others of these Windows-included games. As far as story goes, there is nothing but your own imagination in trying to put yourself in a ‘situation’, like you’re disarming mines for some kind of war and stuff. Well, I recommend you just forget all of it and enjoy the gameplay, which is the best this game has to offer. Actually, it’s the only thing this game has to offer.

The impressive thing here is: how can such a simple and repetitive game be so addictive and consume hours and hours of one’s life? I can’t find a good enough answer to that – maybe it’s just the perfect, ultimate escapist pass-time, not including anything even remotely artistic (in terms of visuals and sounds) or thought-provoking (in terms of story). When you play Minesweeper, you’re not thinking about anything else but those stupid bombs, you lose all contact with the real world and simple enter a logical and timing challenge that is guaranteed to entertain for a long time. I guess that’s why I got rid of it on one wise day. Sometimes, I get the feeling of playing it again, but then, the addiction will start all over again.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 07/13/02, Updated 05/19/03


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