Chances are you’ve at least heard of Minesweeper.
Truly a game of the people, you’ve either finished a game or two while the internet’s down, or opened it out of curiosity after unboxing your computer for the first time. Installed on near every PC on earth; Minesweeper is some people’s only contact with video games, excluding the also commonly bundled Solitaire, Hearts and Freecell, but we won’t include them since they were card-games to begin with. Seeing as all of humanity (and probably several trained monkeys) have already long made up their minds about Minesweeper, you, the reader, must think a review would be completely pointless. As you can see, this review has been printed regardless, so shows what you know.
Despite what many people believe, Minesweeper isn’t just randomly clicking squares, hoping not to click on a bomb, like a very mundane game of Russian roulette. There’s skill involved. When clicked on, each square reveals a number. The number indicates how many mines are in the surrounding eight squares of that square’s nine-square grid. Using this one rule, you ought to be able to sweep the whole grid clean without hitting a mine. I don’t know how to play Sudoku, but I imagine Minesweeper is Sudoku with more explosives. Don’t feel bad if you were one of those people who just clicked squares at random, I didn’t figure out how to play properly until my mid teens, during secondary-school computer class. Before you ask, minesweeper was not on the curriculum, but while other teens rebelled by skipping class or smoking behind the sports hall, I played Minesweeper.
Getting off the subject of my troubled past of illicit Minesweeper, it must be said that the game is miraculously addictive. The simple rules and quick play time make “one more game” as moreish as Pringles. Like Pringles, Minesweeper is insubstantial, but all the more approachable for it. Nobody turns down a Pringle in fear it will spoil their dinner, they harmlessly eat one, then another, then another until they can’t even look at their roast beef.
The game was revamped a few years ago in order to appeal to the youth of today; all sleek shiny blue. I miss the classic version, particularly the smiley face at the top of the grid that would look surprised every time you clicked on a box, as if he hadn’t come to expect you’d click on a box by your sixth game. If you cleared the entire grid without setting off a mine, the face would recognise your achievement by putting on a pair of shades, adding some much needed glamour to the humble number puzzle.
From its humble beginning on our early PCs to its equally humble present on today’s PCs, Minesweeper will never be forgotten. In the same way we all know Snake because it was installed on every Nokia phone for a decade, naysayers may dismiss Minesweeper’s success on it being bundled with every PC, but I know this to not be the case. I know Minesweeper is more than a processor-light number puzzle, it’s a friend.