We all have those memories from childhood, the ones which follow us through our life, bringing back huge waves of nostalgia whenever anything reminds us of the more innocent and simple times of our youth. For me one of those memories is visiting my mum, sitting in her office at this huge, clunky looking computer and playing minesweeper. So, to say I was excited when I heard about Minesweeper Genius ($1.99) would be an understatement of the greatest magnitude. Let me tell you now, I was not disappointed. Minesweeper Genius takes a well-known classic and dresses it in some of the best elements of today’s mobile gaming world. Graphics have come a long way since the original minesweeper was released on an ancient PC, and many developers have cloned the iconic game with up to date effects. However, Mother Gaia Studio’s vision was to change the graphics completely, they offer us “A modern take on the classic minesweeper game!" (quoted from their App Store description).
I was easily swept away (I kill me) with the cute graphics and sounds, as well as the linear design of the gameplay. I was still playing hours after I should have been asleep, succumbing to the curse of self-imposed lack of sleep every gamer and bookworm knows. Even as I write this review I keep glancing over at my phone thinking, “just one stage won’t hurt". If I pick the phone up however I am fairly certain this review will never get finished, which would be a shame because you really don’t want to miss out on this game.
You play a little tile sweeping genius called Aristotle, who is trying to escape before becoming just another experiment for the aliens. Armed with his broom and your brain you use the numbers on the grid to deduce where the bombs are placed so he can sweep his way to safety. A handy tip: every tile will be used in each level, it will be either a special tile, the exit, a bomb, or part of the path Aristotle sweeps.
You have three tries on each level, lose a life and lose a star. You can move through the linear progression without worrying about achieving all three stars for a quicker game, though if you are a perfectionist like me, each level can be restarted at anytime or repeated if you finish with just one or two stars. Mother Gaia Studio assures us their procedural generator can create unlimited random levels, which is awesome, which guarantees if you restart or replay a level it is different, so no cheesing to get those perfect levels.
The tutorial levels are helpful and incredibly easy, the difficultly progresses with you as you move further into the game. The stages start at A and move though the alphabet with 10 levels per stage. At stage C you unlock advanced levels which adds another five (much harder) levels to each stage. You can choose to play the advanced levels before moving on or leave them for later if you aren’t up for the challenge straight away.
Strategies for playing can vary; for younger players guessing where to move could be just as much fun as using logic. The animation of stepping on a mine is fun to watch as is the anticipation of not knowing if Aristotle is about to die or live. Of course, there is no need to ever guess in Minesweeper Genius, whether you like to move your avatar to light up safe tiles or mark every bomb before you move, your logic and wits can get you to safety every time.
My favourite strategy is to mark every mine I can logically find before moving the cute little sweeping dude. A lot of the time I can mark every bomb without having to sweep a tile, though sometimes I find I need to move Aristotle to one of the special tiles, so the board changes and I can find more bombs. I’d love to tell you I had to step on the mines on purpose to be able to know what the detonation graphics look like, but I would be lying, some of the levels can get tough. You will be making the call to continue or restart to keep your perfect three-star levels intact more than once.
There is no doubt Minesweeper Genius is based on the classic minesweeping game from our childhood, however it has elements from other games in the puzzle genre as well. It can seem quite maze-like at times, with the flags making turning paths and special tiles moving the board and your position on it. With the number of tiles to mark with a flag at the start of each vertical and horizontal row it also reminds me of one of those picture cross games.
It doesn’t matter if you are looking for a nostalgic game from technology’s past, or are just a lover of the puzzle genre, this game will deliver the fun. It will keep you up at night whispering “just one more level" into the eerie phone lit bedroom. It will suck you in with its bright colors, charming sound effects and catchy music. Minesweeper Genius is the perfect distraction to keep in your pocket for those times you need something to stave off the boredom. The real problem will be putting the phone back in your pocket when its time to pay attention to the real world.
Minesweeper Genius isn’t a game that asks to send you push notifications, or one that offers in-app purchases (just in case you were wondering about that). You don’t have a certain amount of energy to use before needing time to recharge to be able to play more levels. It’s just a game you can play anyplace, anytime and for as long as you want. Be careful though, it’s a little addictive and hard to stop playing, and now that you know all about this remarkable game, I’m off to help Aristotle before those pesky aliens catch up with him.