Even with millions of people enjoying incredibly popular titles like Fortnite or League of Legends, it’s hard to imagine games played by more people than Microsoft’s Solitaire and Minesweeper—the latter of which is finally enjoyable for folks who still have no idea how to actually play it with Tim Holman’s One Square Minesweeper.
Although the game itself has been around since at least the 1960s and was available on several computer platforms in the ‘80s, Minesweeper’s fanbase grew considerably when Microsoft included it as part of the Microsoft Entertainment Pack 1 in 1990, and then made it a standard part of the Windows 3.1 installation in 1992. Before social media and smartphones were a reliable distraction from work, Windows games like Solitaire and Minesweeper were critical productivity-killing tools in offices and college campuses around the world. Both offered a challenge that was usually far more difficult than work being avoided, but while Solitaire is almost universally loved by all given how relatively easy it was to figure out, Minesweeper wasn’t as intuitive to solve.
The Minesweeper gameplay isn’t really that difficult. Players are given a blank grid of squares where they use left or right mouse clicks to defuse or flag hidden bombs using clues provided by numbers revealed on certain squares. The number on a square indicates how many square hiding mines are adjacent to it, with the maximum number being eight. Players win by revealing the entire grid and flagging every mine, but if they accidentally click on one, all mines are detonated and revealed, and the game is over.
It sounds simple enough, but following the numerical clues and properly flagging every last mine is a real challenge, especially as the size of the grid increases. I now understand how to play Minesweeper, but it’s a game I get little enjoyment from, and until this morning have never been rewarded with a sunglass wearing smiley face that appears when a game of Microsoft Minesweeper is completed. If you’re in the same boat, just head on over to Tim Holman’s One Square Minesweeper which, as the name suggests, can be won with just a single click. Full disclosure: I actually lost Holman’s simplified version of the game the first time I played it as I’d forgotten that a right-click is needed to flag the game’s single mine. It was a reminder that I still hate Minesweeper, but now that I’ve won it once I can strike another item off my bucket list and never have to play it again.