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Video Game / Minesweeper

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"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. Middle-clicking a number with a matching number of flags adjacent to it uncovers all squares adjacent to it that are not flagged, which will set off a mine if even one flag is in the wrong square.

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.
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  • 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:
    • You cannot die on the first click of a new game, no matter what. The grid is randomized before your first click, and if that first click happens to be on a mine, it will either randomize the board again (non-Windows versions) or move the mine to the top right corner (Windows versions). Vista and Windows 7 tweak this some more 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.
    • Super Minesweeper introduces a "Damage" mechanic. Uncovering a mine no longer leads to an instant Game Over but instead adds a penalty to the in-game clock when the game ends after all non-mine tiles are uncovered, the exact amount of time being shown on the sidebar. This was a deliberate design choice as according to the main developer, some board layouts and game variants featured within can became so Nintendo Hard that even the average experienced player would not be able to do a No-Damage Run ala traditional Minesweeper.
  • Bomb Disposal: The goal is to isolate mines without setting them off.
  • Bowdlerise: As of Windows Vista, you can play Flowersweeper instead, with the mines replaced with flowers. This was done in case countries like Laos, which have lots of unexploded bombs left over from past wars that kill innocent people every year, threw a fit about Minesweeper hitting too close to home; Microsoft could simply make Flowersweeper the default in exports of Windows.
  • Classic Cheat Code: XYZZY
  • Cool Shades: Your sole reward for winning.
  • Easter Egg:
    • In the pre-Vista versions, typing in "XYZZY" on the keyboard and then pressing Shift causes the uppermost pixel on the top left corner of the screen to change color depending on where the cursor is. The pixel will be black if it's on a mine, and white otherwise.
    • The Vista and 7 versions are fully compatible with Xbox 360 controllers, a feature that isn't described anywhere in help files. The controller even rumbles if you hit a mine.
  • 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.
  • "Have a Nice Day" Smile: The player's "avatar", in a way.
  • Level Goal: One take on the rules is to require the player to guide a character across the board one step at a time. The Power Pro-kun Pocket games had examples of such gameplay since 2 in 2000. Microsoft themselves eventually added it for the Windows 8 version.
  • 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.
  • Nintendo Hard:
    • Larger boards with more hidden mines require a larger amount of skill and luck to detect the location of mines.
    • Crazy Minesweeper and Super Minesweeper contain modes with medium and large-sized bombs that count as two and three bombs respectively, making it harder to determine which tiles contain mines in a given area.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: Click a tile with a mine under it and the game is over. Averted in Super Minesweeper thanks to bombs being reconfigured to not immediately end the game.
  • Race Against the Clock: That clock will keep ticking until it reaches 999.
    "What happens then?"
    "Nothing. You just suck."
    Minesweeper The Movie Trailer
  • 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 ten minutes of cautious probing.
  • Randomly Generated Levels: Each level is different every time.
  • 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."
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The smiley is strangely missing from the Vista/Windows 7 version.
  • Wingding Eyes: When the smiley dies, it sports X eyes.
  • Wiki Rule: Right here


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