Video Game: Minesweeper

"Each time you dig, you will find a number. That number will tell you exactly how many mines are adjacent to your square..."

Minesweeper is a nice little puzzle game packed with every version of Microsoft Windows up to Windows 7. When you start the game, first you must select the difficulty: beginner, intermediate or expert. The levels will affect the size of the board (9×9, 16×16, 16×30) and the number of mines (10, 40, 99) respectively. The level is randomly generated. By left-clicking any square on the grid, you will either open a new area, detonate a mine or find a number. That number tells you the number of adjacent mines. Right-clicking places flags where you think there's a mine.

Minesweeper is known to have quite a few little strategies:
  • If you have a 1 on a corner, it's a mine. Why? Because there's only one available tile adjacent. Be very careful, because while this technique is useful (and integral), if you fail a spot check and don't see that there's already a mine diagonal to your 1, you will probably die.
  • A 2 at the very edge of a wall adjacent to two hidden tiles means they're both mines.
  • 3 on a wall: they're all mines.
  • If you see the numbers "2 1 2" on a wall, the spaces adjacent to the 2s are both safe and the space adjacent to the 1 is a mine, and similarly if you see "1 2 1", the space in the middle is safe and both spaces adjacent to the 1s are mines. You may intuitively expect "2 1 2", averaging to 5/3, would imply more mines tend to be found adjacent to those three squares and "1 2 1", averaging to 4/3, would imply less, but you would be wrong.
  • A generalization of 3 along a wall: If you see two numbers that are adjacent (not diagonal, but sharing a side) to each other and they differ by 3 (such as 4 and 1, or 5 and 2), then all three squares on the other side of the larger number are mines and all three on the other side of the smaller are safe.

The world record for Expert difficulty is currently 31 seconds (previous record).

Examples of tropes used in Minesweeper:

  • Anti-Frustration Features: The grid is randomized before your first click, and if that first click happens to be on a mine, it gets randomized again so that first square is empty. This is differently programmed for different versions of Minesweeper. The Windows version will move a "First-click Mine" to the very top right square without regenerating a board. The Vista/Windows 7 makes it so not only is the first square empty, so are all the adjacent squares. Naturally, this is turned off for when you replay the same layout.
  • Bomb Disposal
  • Classic Cheat Code: XYZZY
  • Cool Shades: Your sole reward for winning.
  • Failed a Spot Check: KABOOM!
  • Game Mod: There's a lot of clones of this game, including several odd variants including hexagonal Minesweeper (imagine playing it in a beehive) and spherical Minesweeper. It seems in general to be a fairly popular programming exercise, and some version or another is standard on nearly every Linux distribution.
  • Luck-Based Mission: Happens fairly frequently. See the article's image for an example. Basically, it amounts to knowing exactly how many tiles in a set have mines but not being able to confirm (with perfect accuracy) which ones in that set have mines, despite having cleared out the rest of the board. it's also the reason a perfect (non-cheating) AI doesn't exist for Minesweeper, too. There's also a couple of other reasons a perfect AI doesn't exist, not least the NP-completeness of the problem.
  • Race Against the Clock: That clock will keep ticking until it reaches 999.
    "What happens then?"
    "Nothing. You just suck."
  • Random Number God: At some point, you're probably going to have to guess. Better hope the god is on your side, or you can lose an hour ten minutes of cautious probing.
  • Randomly Generated Levels
  • Real Trailer, Fake Movie: Minesweeper: The Movie
  • Schrödinger's Gun: See Anti-Frustration Features above.
  • Too Dumb to Live: "Hmm... There must be three mines around that 2, let's click he- Crap."
  • Up to Eleven: Ladies and gentlemen, we give you; Super Minesweeper.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The smiley is strangely missing from the Vista/Windows 7 version.
  • Wiki Rule: Right here