Joseph Rositano
22 Feb, 2009

XBLA Minesweeper Flags Review

360 Review | Is it worth paying for what's already available for free?
Nearly everyone who owns a Windows PC will be familiar with Minesweeper. The title has always been the perfect distraction for those boring Friday afternoons at work - or at least it was when you finally curved that addiction to Solitaire. Now the pack-in game has made its way to Xbox Live, but is it worth paying for what is installed on a majority of PCs worldwide?

In case you need a refresher, Minesweeper is a grid-based puzzler where your goal is to successfully clear squares without setting off mines. When you select a square it will either be blank or display a number (ranging from 1-8). The numbers represent how many mines are under the adjacent squares, so you have to slowly determine which squares are safe to select. To help you out, you can also mark which squares you know have mines under them, and which ones you’re unsure of.

We wonder if the Yeti wants some Minesweeper action.

We wonder if the Yeti wants some Minesweeper action.
Minesweeper Flags doesn’t really change this formula, though it offers players three gameplay modes with subtle differences. First up is a Classic mode which is the same game as you would find on your PC. Second is Campaign, which is the main single-player mode. The basic premise behind it is that you travel the world playing games of Minesweeper, with each level getting progressively harder. What makes this more appealing however is that the developers have tried to spice things up by including relaxing 3D backdrops. Some examples include a North American forest inhabited by deer and bears, and even a snowy mountain range. Sadly, to accommodate them the camera is tilted at an angle rather than a top-down view. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as you move your cursor the camera scrolls with it, which can get annoying. In addition to the backdrops, grids are irregularly-shaped and you are allocated one life, so if you accidentally trigger a mine you won’t have to start from scratch. While these elements add some flair, in the end it doesn’t change the gameplay at all.

In contrast to Classic and Campaign, the titular Minesweeper Flags is a multiplayer-focused mode which puts a twist on the standard Minesweeper formula by having players compete to see who can find the most mines. There’s not much more to it really, although you have the option to set how long each turn lasts and whether or not players can continue their turn if they find a mine. Unfortunately, during time with the game we found it difficult to get an online match going, which is a testament to how popular it is right now.

The titular Minesweeper Flags mode.

The titular Minesweeper Flags mode.
In terms of its presentation, Minesweeper Flags doesn’t standout from other puzzlers on the Xbox Live Arcade. While it’s understandable the visuals aren’t going to blow your mind away, there are a few things the developers could have done to add some extra appeal. Take the earlier example of the North American backdrop. The animals just stand there like they’ve been mounted to the ground. It would have been nice to see them walking around, grazing the grass or splashing in the water. The music is also very generic. While it’s suitably toned for a puzzle game of this nature, it’s just completely unmemorable.

It’s difficult to give a final recommendation for Minesweeper Flags. On one hand it’s functional and can be fun in short bursts, but on the other it just doesn’t do a lot differently from what’s essentially installed on every Windows PC. Unless you want to play Minesweeper on your TV screen, there’s little reason to purchase this Arcade title.
The Score
While functional and fun in short bursts, unless you want to play Minesweeper on your TV screen there’s little reason you should purchase this Arcade game.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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5 years ago
When you select a square it will either be blank or display a number (ranging from 1-6).
Yeah, it should range from 1-8, since most squares are surrounded by 8 others. Rare, but you do see 7's and 8's occasionally, atleast in the windows version.

A good review, too. Why buy something that's free?
5 years ago
Ah, you are right. I didn't come across 7 or 8 in the XBLA version but then again, I didn't play it on expert difficulty. I'll change 6 to 8.

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