Review by Shady

"Play Solitaire instead."

Minesweeper is a tiny puzzle game that comes free with most versions of Microsoft Windows. While the game has its own little fanbase, I wouldn't go so far as to say that it is the most popular of the 'other' free games that come with Windows (Freecell, Solitaire, and Hearts). That honor probably belongs to Solitaire. Minesweeper has its share of reasons why it's not the most popular out of the bunch, many of which are because of its average gameplay.

Minesweeper is a simple 'point and click' puzzler, in which the goal is to point your mouse at one of the many grids and click on it. If there is a mine underneath the clicked grid, then you good sir, are screwed. Clicking on a rigged grid will kill you and end the game. If the clicked grid doesn't have a mine under it, then you will either find a blank square or a numbered square. The blank squares mean that there is not a mine in the vicinity of that particular square. The numbered squares mean that there are that many mines touching the square. The game's premise may sound a little bit difficult in writing, but the game is actually quite easy to understand.

Don't get the wrong idea - while Minesweeper may be easy to learn, it is definitely not an easy game at all. Most of the game revolves around making simple guesses, without any real thinking or strategy required. The first few clicks at least are trial and error - if you make a bad guess then you have to start over. If you get lucky and don't click on one of the troublesome mines, then you can continue on with hopes of winning. Once all of the blank squares have been determined through this process, the game does manage to require a little bit of thinking from the user. However, when thinking is required, there is always that annoying timer in the right hand corner that forces the player to rush. Rushing leads to mistakes, and mistakes lead to game over.

Perhaps the best feature of Minesweeper is its option to create your own mine fields. With this option, you select the height of the grid, the width of the grid, and the number of mines to be placed in the field. If you ever get tired of the regular levels of difficulty (beginner, intermediate, expert), then this option is a great alternative.

Minesweeper has some rather plain visuals. The interface merely consists of (from top to bottom) the menu bar, the smiley face (clicked on to start a new game), and the simple gray grid. There are also digits on both sides of the smiley face that tell how many mines are left to be uncovered and how much time you have taken. There is an option to play the game in color or in old black-and-white mode, but it is meaningless.

Sound is not a factor in the game because, quite frankly, there is none.

Overall, Minesweeper is an average puzzle game that is held back by one fatal flaw - the fact that there is little thinking or strategy required. Even with that problem, the game is still easy to play and it is a decent way to kill time. I can't really recommend Minesweeper for everyone, especially since there are better free games that come with Windows (Solitaire, Hearts, Freecell).

Best Feature: Custom mode.
Worst Feature: Little thinking or strategy required.

Final Analysis:
Graphics 3/10 - plain
Sound NA/10 - none
Gameplay 5/10 - too much guessing, not enough thinking
Control 7/10 - point and click
Replay Value 5/10 - play Solitaire or something else
Challenge 7/10 - guess guess guess
Overall 5/10

Reviewer's Rating:   2.5 - Playable

Originally Posted: 06/27/00, Updated 12/01/01

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