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MineField: The Next Generation

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First impressions are good, with a colourful icon, striking splash screen and spinner-style set up dialog, with 15 possible combinations of minefield size and difficulty. Your starting view is of the big minefield and then a very iPhone-ish double-tap zooms in Safari-style, to a zoom level where you can actually start playing. As you might expect, on most field sizes there’s quite a lot of panning around needed, but this is handled elegantly by simply dragging the field as needed. So as not to get a finger-drag confused with a tap, all ‘reveal’ operations are assigned to double-taps, so you’ll be double-tapping a lot. This isn’t a problem though, and you soon get used to it.

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When you spot where a mine is (by the usual numerical ‘adjacent’ clues), switch to ‘flag’ mode and you can then single tap to place a flag (because you’re not going to want to drag the field around while marking a mine) or two and then it’s back to reveal mode and you’re off again.

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The presence of a timer isn’t too daunting – it doesn’t represent a time limit – more a log of how long you took to clear each board size/difficulty combination, and this is then stored in a ‘best times’ table, so that you can get a sense of achievement when you beat a personal lowest time. A readout of the number of mines left to find is helpful.

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Other brickbats and bouquets include the lack of any sound effects whatsoever – a missed opportunity considering how trivial these would have been to implement; and a delightful parallax effect between the minefield itself and the textured ‘deep space’ background – you’ll notice this as you pan the field around. And a thumbs up from me for the way an interrupted game gets resumed when you start MineField: TNG up again.

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A more-than-competent Minesweeper clone that is not only fun to play, it’s attractive to look at, too.

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