Too Much Free Time

Discussion and reviews of games for NES, Intellivision, DOS, and others.

Mines

Posted by Tracy Poff on January 6, 2009

Mines by Ian Heath is a Minesweeper variant for Windows 3.1, released in 1990.

At first glance, it seems very much like Minesweeper, but the goal is somewhat different: rather than finding all mines on the playing field, your task is to find a mine-free path from the upper left corner to the lower right. You can walk any direction including diagonals in order to reach your goal. The game includes the same marking functions that Minesweeper had, allowing you to mark a square as mined or possibly mined, but these are only for your reference in Mines.

Although you can’t change the size of the playing field, you can choose the number of mines on it. The default, 30 mines, is quite easy, but the difficulty grows quite a bit as the number of mines increases. The maximum, 160 mines, is very difficult indeed.

Every generated playing field is solvable: some path exists through the mines, though, as with Minesweeper, it may not be possible to determine for sure where the mines are. In the above screenshot, for example, the mine on the third column of the first row could have been moved down one without changing the numbers shown when the game started–it’s not possible to be sure any move is safe, though the square down-right of the 3 was definitely mined.

Mines can be downloaded here.

Gameplay: 8/10
The concept is great–it’s definitely one of the best Minesweeper variants I’ve played. Most ‘variants’ only change up the size of the board, or something equally tiny. The only reason this didn’t score higher is that the game lacks keyboard controls, which seem like the natural input method for a game like this, and has no timer.
Graphics: 7/10
Mines looks basically like Minesweeper, which is to say plain but not bad. The feet that represent the player blend in a little too well for my taste, but it’s otherwise fine.
Personal Slant: 8/10
The addition of a timer, keyboard controls, and maybe the ability to change the board size would have made this a 9 or even 10, but it’s still quite good even without these things.
Total: 7.7/10
Mines is a fairly original variant on Minesweeper, and a pretty well-done one at that. Anyone who likes Minesweeper ought to give this one a try.
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