Far from a new game, but it’s new to Switch, so I nabbed it. It’s not the Minesweeper I remember, but it’s not a bad evolution either.
As an older computer geek, I have had a soft spot for Minesweeper for decades. It used to come bundled with Windows, all the way back from Windows 3.1. It’s only Windows 10 that stopped that little tradition, but you can still get it from the Microsoft Store.
It’s far from the greatest game in the world. But it is a satisfyingly frustrating logic puzzle, and if you just want a little bit of a distraction, it fit the bill fine. Not a game for everyone, but it was free and it scratched an itch.
As I mentioned in Last Week’s Gaming a couple of weeks ago, I was browsing through the Switch eShop, and I saw Minesweeper Genius for something like AUD$1.20. So I thought what the hell and gave it a try.
Since when does Minesweeper have a story?
One of the first differences you see from ‘classic’ Minesweeper is that you control a character called Aristotle. You have been captured by aliens or something, and you need to solve their tests.
Honestly, the story isn’t essential or even necessary to understand. I have yet to hit a cutscene or anything along those lines, so you just jump in and play.
So the only ‘story’ you have to deal with is that you need to complete a variety of different puzzles and then get to the end.
Puzzles? It’s Minesweeper, isn’t it?
Yes, but with a small difference. When you play Minesweeper, you need to clear all the non-mined squares. In Minesweeper Genius, you need to guide Aristotle through the level. It’s a small functional difference, but it is a difference.
What makes me put Minesweeper Genius more into the puzzle category than deductive logic is the fact he can’t backtrack. You do need to find the one path to the level exit.
The initial levels are very simple and let you get a feel for how to play the game. If you judge Minesweeper Genius from the first few areas, you would think it was a ridiculously simple game with little challenge.
There are a few unique tiles that allow you to jump a square, or move rows/columns in a direction. As you get into larger areas, more indicators are placed within the level itself, not just the number of mines in a row or column. These take a while to get to though. So there is a bit of ‘stick with it’ for Minesweeper veterans.
Once you get through an area, you unlock the advanced puzzles. Early on, these ramp up the difficulty significantly. So if you are looking for more from the game, this is a good way to keep you interested as you get through the lower difficulty levels. If you are learning, you can come back when you have a better grasp of the game.
So I just look up solutions online. What’s the fun in that?
So when you play, if you get through a level without dying, you get a 3-star rating. So if you complete every level with 3 stars, I am guessing that’s your completion goal?
I made a few mistakes at an early level, but Aristotle’s body was a grim reminder a mine was there. So I thought I would retry the level now I knew the layout, and keep my scoring streak going.
Reloading the level, it had changed entirely. So no walkthroughs are available – you have to complete the randomly generated puzzle!
This actually made me excited. Once I find an area I can just jump into and play with the difficulty I am looking for, I can play an endless amount of levels. So this isn’t a ‘one and done’ run through, which I appreciate.
So should I buy Minesweeper Genius?
If you are interested enough to look for this review, probably. Especially if you pick it up for sale like I did for only a couple of dollars.
Looking around, it has been released on almost everything. You could get it on your phone, PC, PlayStation and Xbox. Personally, I think mobile and Switch make the most sense, maybe on PC.
Minesweeper Genius is a game you pick up for a few minutes at a time and forget about until you next want a quick diversion. I couldn’t see myself firing up my PlayStation or Xbox for a few games. I have been firing up my Switch while something is playing on the TV though, and it’s been fun.
How to turn Minesweeper into a 'game'
Minesweeper Genius is an evolution of the classic Minesweeper game. Straightforward and challenging, it’s a great way to pass a few minutes while keeping your brain engaged.
The music is repetitive, and the visual style could use some variation. Still, Minesweeper Genius is a solid game and a great new take on a classic game.
If you are a Minesweeper veteran though, you will need to spend at least 15 minutes clearing the ‘easy’ levels before getting to a real challenge though.
- Clean (if bland) visual style
- Very accessible and easy to pick up
- Good challenge difficulty curve for beginners
- Random puzzle generation leads to infinite playability
- The soundtrack can be annoying
- More suited to mobile gaming than dedicated play sessions
Until next time,