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Video Game / Minesweeper

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You've been sweeped.

"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.
  • 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 27.53 seconds, set by Ze-En Ju, who broke a record almost as old as he is.note 

Examples of tropes used in Minesweeper:

  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • You cannot die on the first click of a new game, no matter whatnote . 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 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 become so Nintendo Hard that even the average experienced player would not be able to do a No-Damage Run a la traditional Minesweeper.
  • A Winner Is You: If you win in the original versions, all you get is a cheery tune and the smiley wearing Cool Shades.
  • Bomb Disposal: The goal is to isolate mines without setting them off.
  • Bowdlerise: Starting in Windows 2000, some regions (such as Italy) changed the game into "Flower Field" with the mines replaced with flowers. The Vista/7 version has an option to switch between mines and flowers, with the default depending on the region. This was done to alleviate controversy about the game trivializing land mines in regions where unexploded mines from past wars still kill innocent people every year, though some still wanted the game to be banned altogether.
  • Classic Cheat Code: Typing XYZZY as described under Easter Egg.
  • Continuing is Painful: Super Minesweeper lets you continue playing a game even after you click a mine tile. Finish a board in this state and each uncovered mine will add roughly 40 to 60 seconds to the final timer. Only by finishing with the standard One-Hit-Point Wonder rule of typical Minesweeper will you get a clean time with no penalty added on.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Harder Than Hard: With the various options for custom games, one can generate a board configuration that is much harder to solve than the default Expert mode's board size and mine count. Most of the alternate variants can also qualify due to their confusing layouts and large sizes.
  • "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. 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.
  • No-Damage Run: Outright required for the original game, where uncovering a single mine instantly ends the game, but optional for Super Minesweeper at the cost of having some extra time placed on the clock when the game ends if you do accidentally uncover a mine or two.
  • 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: While you can pick the size and (in variants) layouts of the board, each level is different every time.
  • Real Trailer, Fake Movie: Minesweeper: The Movie
  • Schrödinger's Gun: As you cannot lose on a first click (except when replaying the same board), if the first click happens to be a mine, the board is randomized or that mine is moved away.
  • Self-Imposed Challenge: It is possible to win a game of Minesweeper without ever setting down a flag. Some clones in particular have separate high scores for games that are finished with no flags dropped.
  • Tilesweeper: The Trope Maker. You click on a tile and see the number on it. That number tells you how many mines are adjacent to the tile. You use it as a clue to decide which tiles to click on and which ones to flag, as flagged tiles have mines. Clicking on a mine results in a game over. To win, you must uncover all safe tiles.
  • Timed Mission: Subverted. The clock starts counting upwards upon clicking the first box. If it reaches 999, it stays at that number until the game ends.
  • 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.