Source // Wikipedia

I don't know where I first encountered Minesweeper. On a PC, certainly, and it probably wasn't the Windows XP version seen above, though that's where I spent most of my Minesweeping.

Like many classic titles, I just couldn't tell you when and where that fateful first was, but we're all glad that there was that first game. And the second. And third. Fourth. Fifth. Sixth. I'll have tea in a minute. Seventh. Eighth. Just coming. Ninth.

Let's see how well this ageless classic has aged.



I've always associated Minesweeper with the Windows operating system, as I suspect many of you have too, but I actually have quite a gap in my Windows history. I left for the Mac and never saw anything of Vista, 7, 8 - even 8.1 was experienced for only a few weeks before I upgraded to Windows 10, and so I haven't seen what happened to Minesweeper for a decade or more.

I wish it stayed in my memory.

To be fair to this version, it does retain the gameplay of the original - how can it not, I guess. Click to reveal a square, work out whether you're surrounded by mines or not, right click to plant a flag (if you feel that's necessary) and don't click on any mines or your game's over.

Back in the day, a game over meant near instantly jumping back into the game for a fresh start. There were no obstacles to a rematch, and there's not exactly a whole lot to load, is there?

When it comes to Minesweeper, you don't need graphics. The 1001 article even mentions that part of the appeal may have been because it looked like a calculator app, such are the lack of graphics.

Why the heck that hasn't stayed true, I don't know.

If you're interested in achievements and bragging rights, then you're going to want to check out this version before any of the much simpler, much better, much more offline versions from our early lives, because this version is full of achievements and challenges and scoreboards and all kinds of things to stop you from playing the game in order to tell you how else you can play the game.

Most of these frustrations are with the presentation of Minesweeper and not the core game itself, though. The reason is that there are so few annoyances with that core game.

Fun Times

Its simplicity allows everyone to dive in for a game, and those games can last seconds, teach you lots and within the blink of an eye you can be right back into the next round, trying again. Up the difficulty by enlarging the playing field or adding more mines and you can have a mentally stimulating time-sink to do instead of anything work related. It's addicting, and time just drifts on by as you play it.

The formula can be altered in numerous ways, with other versions using hexagons or triangles instead of squares, having multiple mines in a single cell, using unusually shaped playing fields and so on. Heck, you could even try making an adventure game out of it.

They don't always work out, but kudos for trying...

Final Word

Minesweeper, for me, is that boring grey XP window with the stupid looking smiley face and those red digital readouts. I didn't always care about the slow game and working out where mines were based on the numbers, but neither did the game. It just presented the grid and you just followed the rules.

Those rules have held true for decades now, and will for many decades more. The skin has changed - far too much for me - but if a version stays faithful to those mechanics, it'll have a successful time.

You can tweak Minesweeper, you can expand upon it, but remain true to its ease of entry for newcomers and you'll have office workers all across the land stare at all your advertising between each rou-no, no no, wait. Scrap the adverts. They tarnish the legend.

I would of course say play Minesweeper, but the phrase I'm really looking for is 'play Minesweeper again'.

Fun Facts

From Windows Vista onwards, you couldn't ever land on a mine on your first click, which is your number one reason to avoid such versions at all costs.

Minesweeper, developed by Microsoft, first released in 1989.
Versions played: Windows XP, 2001.
Microsoft Minesweeper, 2012.