Minesweeper. For many, it’s one of the first games you ever became addicted to. To others, it’s the game your mom is addicted to (and the only thing she knows how to work on her computer). Mines in Space is Minesweeper… except about 10x cooler, with four sides of awesome.
When a “clone” game costs $2.99, I expect quite a bit from it. I expect a new twist on old gameplay, various modes of play, high production value, and a game that I’ll be playing for a while. You get all of this, and MORE with Mines in Space. Seriously. In fact, Mines in Space comes closer to a perfect score than any other game I’ve reviewed. Granted, a mine-sweeping game may be easier to pull off than a WWII shooter for the iPhone, but each game is reviewed on it’s own merit.
There are five different game modes, and every single one of them is challenging and fun. To start things off, there is, of course, the standard Minesweeper gameplay. If you don’t know what Minesweeper is, Google it. kthx. The controls are excellent, with standard tapping, and dragging to view different areas of the playing field. Would have been nice to add a pinch and zoom function for larger mine fields, but I can see how this could have made gameplay less responsive. You flag by clicking the flag button, and then clicking a square. I really would have liked to have an option where the flag button stays activated until you click it again, so it’s easier to place multiple flags.
Here’s where things get crazy. Mines in Space has 4 brand new game modes, all of which brilliantly use the mine-sweeping concept/math. The next mode is called impostor. This mode has a mostly open field, with a few meteors scattered around. Some meteors contain mines, while others contain aliens. Your goal is, using the numbers surrounding the meteors, is to determine where the mines are. If there is a meteor where a mine shouldn’t be, it’s probably an alien. When you identify all aliens, the game is over.
The second new game mode is called “UFO Finder”, as is basically inverted Minesweeper. You are given an empty playing field. All you have are empty squares and squares with numbers. The goal is to determine which blank spaces contain hidden UFOs. When you click on them, they appear. If you click on a square that doesn’t have a UFO, you lose. This is pretty challenge, and will flip your logic after playing the original mode.
The third game mode is called “Rocket Shuffle”, and in my opinion is probably the most difficult. It actually brings a minor puzzle element into the game. Basically, the playing field consists of a playing field with numbered squares, and some rocket ships. You can slide the rows of squares vertically up or down. The goal is to, by using the numbers available, setup the board so that all the rocket ships (taking place of mines) are where they should be in relation to the numbers. Probably easier played than explained.
The final mode, or “Final Frontier” as it’s called, combines the above four game modes in to individual numbered puzzles that increase in difficulty. There are 100 in all! In addition to 5 gaming modes, Mines in Space has an excellent achievements system that is used to unlock new playing fields (“galaxies”). There is even an XP system as you progress, that also unlocks achievements.
Visually and aurally, Mines in Space is as polished as it gets. The menus are slick, the backgrounds are clean, and the animation (what little is required in a game like this) is excellent. The sound pairs right along, with perfect sounds effects, and great music to boot!
There are only three things that bugged me about Mines in Space. The first, and most glaring issue is the complete and utter lack of help menus. If I didn’t already know how to play Minesweeper, I would have been completely clueless. Even for those who know the game well, the extra modes of play aren’t necessarily as self-explanatory as the developer is assuming. I couldn’t even find help when visiting the official game site! I hope this is added in the future.
The second issue has to do with the fact that every single game mode is timed. Yeah, and there’s no way to turn this off. Now I can understand timing a mode like “Final Frontier” since it’s supposed to be an overall challenge mode. But having to constantly beat the clock turns this from a casual game into one that requires quite a bit of focus. Hopefully the devs hear this and do something about. Most Minesweeper fans that I know love bumping the difficulty all the way up, and casually grinding their way through a huge playing field.
The only other complaint I have, is one that I will always for games in which you achieve a score… where’s the online leaderboard? In a game where you gain experience, as well as rank, it would be nice to see how you stand in comparison to others. Neither of these two issues are that big a deal if you’re a fan of Minesweeper, or even just puzzle/math games in general, but they should be mentioned.
Presentation and Graphics
Perfect. That’s about it.
Controls are simple touch, and drag to move over the field. Very effective. The gameplay is very responsive and a lot of fun. Needs the ability to disable the timer on some modes. Needs help menus. Would like to touch the flag button to turn on that mode, and touch again to turn it off.
No online leaderboard? You know, as nice as that would be, this game is chock full of content, and will keep you playing for a looong time. I can’t imagine how long it would take to get all the achievements. It’s a tough game!
I haven’t played any other mine-sweeping games on the iPhone, but I would be very surprised if any of them are as rounded, and well-produced as Mines in Space. The game takes a simple concept, and packs it to the brim with different game modes and gameplay. You will be playing this game for a long time, and loving every minute of the brain-bending, mine-busting fun!