Traditional methods of procrastination now available on mobile devices

Review of Minesweeper Q for iOS devices
Developer: Spica Price (23/08/11) Free!
Author’s Rating: 7.5

This game is good for: procrastinating

Never in my short career as an app reviewer, would I have ever dreamed that I’d be reviewing a game so classic and timeless, that it has spawned an entire generation of games that are classified as office time-killers. Indeed, Minesweeper is installed on more PCs than any other gaming software in the world except for maybe solitaire. If I had a penny for every 10 man hours of minesweeper ever played, I would probably be as wealthy as an English monarch.

For the benefit of the mobile generation who are too young to have even heard of minesweeper, this is what its about. The game starts you of with a grid of tiles. Every tile you click (or touch in this case) will turn over to reveal if it is a mine or not. If you hit a mine, you lose the game, otherwise, it will reveal a number, telling you how many of the adjacent tiles contain mines, and giving you an idea of which tile you can open next. The objective is to clear every single un-mined tile in the fastest time possible. If you think you know that a tile is definitely a mine, you can put a flag on it to remind yourself that it’s a mine. Flags also allow you to use the auto-open function to clear out numbers faster.

Boom!

If you grew up without ever seeing mobile phones with monotone displays instead of full color LCDs, chances are this is going to sound pretty boring to you. But trust me when I say there will come a time, when you are stuck in an office where you are prohibited from installing software on local computers with no access to internet flash games, when Minesweeper will come in to rescue your sanity.

Now minesweeper is an already proven game concept, and all the original functions such as the custom game mode and the 3 difficulty levels are still there, so I will not rate what most people already know about it. Instead, I will take a look at what the kind developers at Spica have brought to the table in this mobile version.

The first thing that is vastly different from the traditional minesweeper is obviously the touch interface. Where we originally had two seperate left and right mouse buttons, allowing us quick movements between tiles after flagging or opening, we now only have touches. A single quick touch will open the tile, but the default setting for flag placing is a touch and hold. This greatly annoyed me as it slowed down my tile-clearing skills to the pace of the US economy. Luckily, Spica has an option to switch between various control options. Each of them require a little bit of getting used to, but within a few minutes, you’ll be breezing through tiles like Hef breezes through bunnies. In fact, I would probably go so far as to say that you could probably get used to the touch-based interface so much that you would prefer it over the original point and click, so bonus points for the controls.

Explosive Flowers.

Spica also provides us with a couple of different skins, on top of the classic skin we are all familiar with. They don’t stand out too much, and in fact can be a little bit annoying, especially the flower skin and the one with dots instead of numbers. It took me more time to count the dots than open the tiles, but that could just by my inability to visualize numbers. So it does make a refreshing change from the classic look, but the added visual effects will probably not appeal to everyone. So maybe this only adds a little to it.

Sky Whales. The most beautiful and most annoying skin.

Finally, the one thing that was greatly missing from minesweeper, though it was probably a little too difficult to manage it at the time, was online score sharing. And that is what we have in this. At a simple touch of a button, you can share your high score across the various in-built social networks to earn bragging rights etc. While this feature is almost mandatory for any iphone game these days, its something that the original lacked, so it still earns a wealth of bonus points.

So there you have it. Minesweeper, the game to end all nail-biting hours in the office, can now be played on your mobile iOS device. Here’s to many more unproductive hours on the go.

review by Black Cows

(This sponsored review was requested via ReviewRoster Id: allofmybase)

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