Mines In Space Review: The best mine-sweeper game ever?

As a child, my parents gave me a Texas Instruments computer that ran programs — no one called them “applications” back then — from cassette tapes, and I had some tapes of simple arcade games. I eventually moved on to a DOS box and discovered Sierra’s adventure games and shareware titles such as Commander Keen and Duke Nukem, who would later go on to immense fame and popularity, but was then a B-rate action platformer. I ran with DOS all the way through my first year of college, stubbornly refusing to “upgrade” to Windows. But Tomb Raider 2 put the nails in the coffin, unable to run on DOS as the first had, and so I reluctantly embraced the world of graphical operating systems, icons, menu bars and mouse-based input.

It was a difficult time for me. I thoroughly enjoyed Tomb Raider 2, but I held nothing but contempt for Windows 95. And when Tomb Raider was done, I had nothing. It was then that I discovered Minesweeper, a default inclusion on all Windows installations and the first logic-based puzzle game I had ever found enjoyable. Minesweeper was merciless; a single mistake would cost you the game. New games came and went, but Minesweeper was always there to meet me when the fancy had passed. When I finally moved on from Windows, embracing the world of Mac, I’d like to stay I never looked back. But in moving on, I left Minesweeper behind. It felt as if I’d been released from prison, but had left my dearest, truest friend behind bars.

And so it’s always been for me that a device — be it computer, phone or otherwise — cannot properly be called a device without having Minesweeper installed, or some derivation of Minesweeper. Luckily, Hige Five has got my covered here; Mines In Space is the definitive Minesweeper game on the iPhone.

For those not in the know, Minesweeper presents you with a grid of squares. Hidden beneath each square is either a number, empty space or a mine. The object of the game is to reveal all numbered or empty squares on the board, without revealing a mine. Revealing a mine ends your game. The numbers denote the number of adjacent squares containing mines. The idea is that by cross-examining the revealed numbers, you should be able to deduce the location of the mines and thereby avoid them, revealing the safe areas on the board. To keep track of your progress, you are able to flag squares suspected of harboring mines.

Likes:

Game Modes: Mines In Space offers five modes of play. Classic is your standard game of Minesweeper, played against a timer. In Imposter, the board is already revealed; there are a number of asteroids on the board, some of which are aliens in disguise. Using the numbers on the board, you must deduce which asteroids are really aliens. UFO Finder also begins with a revealed board, and tasks you to deduce the locations of cloaked UFOs. In Rocket Shuffle, you must slide the grid’s columns in an attempt to line-up the numbers and rockets in such a way that the logic fits. And Final Frontier mixes these modes into a campaign of challenges spanning 100 levels, each subsequent challenge increasing in difficulty.

Difficulty Settings: Classic, Imposter, UFO Finder and Rocket Slider modes can be played in any of four difficulty levels: Easy, Medium, Hard or Expert. No matter your proficiency level at minesweeping, the game can be tailored to your ability, making this an enjoyable offering for minesweepers of all skill levels.

Achievements: As you continue to play Mines In Space, you accumulate experience points (XP) for your victories, improving your rank and title, and unlocking in-game achievements as you go. You can earn larger amounts of XP during Victory Runs, winning consecutive games in a row. Losing during a streak will cancel your victory run and set you back to earning the base amount of XP for each stage. This system of rank and achievements, combined with victory runs and the newly added Open Feint support provide great incentive to continue playing the game, as there are always goals to be reached.

Presentation: Traditionally, Minesweeper games have offered only the most basic presentation; typically no sound and graphics that are just plain ugly. Mines In Space upends tradition, delivering a Minesweeper imbued with both charm and personality. This is the best Minesweeper has ever looked or sounded, and it’s a welcome change to the game. Mines In Space is both a joy to play and a joy to behold.

Dislikes:

Unless you just dislike Minesweeper altogether, there is nothing to dislike about Mines In Space. This is the king of Minesweeper games.

Mines In Space was first released in November 2008, but was updated yesterday to include Open Feint support. It’s nice to see Hige Five continuing to support and improve its game after more than a year in the wild. And though Mines In Space is more than a year old, it remains not only the best Minesweeper in the App Store, but the best Minesweeper I have ever played. This is Minesweeper having achieved perfection. Five game modes, four difficulty levels, 100 challenges, 24 achievements, six galaxies to unlock, Open Feint support and detailed stats tracking all for $0.99. That’s quite a package and cost you less than a fast-food hamburger. Mines In Space is a Must-Have; do not pass it up.

Mines In Space is developed by Hige Five, costs $0.99 and was reviewed on an iPhone 3G.

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