Saturday, 8 December 2012

Specvent Calendar Day 8 - Mined Out

Mined Out (Quicksilva, 1983)

Yes, it's back to 1983 and no, I'm not going to apologise... unlike some of my other 1983 picks, though, this one is not based solely on nostalgia, not least because it's not a game I owned at the time, only playing it for the first time from a Your Sinclair Covertape in 1991.

As the name and above screenshots attest, it's a close relative of the Minesweeper family, and as far as I can tell the first implementation of such on a home computer or console. Rather than clicking on squares at will, you have to navigate through a minefield knowing only how many mines are in squares orthogonally connected to your current location - as you go through the levels the mine density increased, and your only comfort is the knowledge that there are never any mines in the top or bottom rows. Just remember that the barbed wire surround is all mined though... from the second level on there are also damsels to rescue for Big Points, and on level three bugs start chasing you. If you make it all the way to Level 9 you can rescue Bill the Worm, though safe to say I never did, at least not legitimately... 

It's probably no shock to reveal that this game was programmed in BASIC, and indeed is proof that with a sufficiently strong and simple premise this is fine. As with Test Match, you can BREAK into the program and tinker away, but unlike that game I never felt the need, as it was pitched pretty perfectly to start with. Except for one thing, the key layout. As the game predated the Interface 2 it would be petty to carp, but while having 6 and 7 for Left and Right is fine, 8 is Down and 9 Up, resulting in myriad unnecessary deaths across the years... incidentally, if you do happen to break in, you get the following rather nice Easter Egg at the top of the listing:

Overall it got a pretty good rep at the time, I've not found a single negative review, and even a year later Crash's Living Guide gave it a Recommended verdict. It was the only Spectrum game that really worked with my old N-Gage emulator, and it still holds up today. If you've not played it, do - I guarantee you'll be pleasantly surprised.

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