Friday, June 05, 2020


- You sunk my battleship!! -

Everyone loves the Battleships board game? Well, I know I do! So here is Minefield by Donald Campbell which is kinda based on the idea only this time we're driving tanks across a minefield made from 64 square tiles. Our opponent is your beloved Atari ST who is trying to do the same and the one with the most through wins!

There are three difficulty levels with the first being "Dead Easy" which makes your Atari ST appear rather dumb. Especially as it fails to learn from its mistakes... The second level is "Quite Easy" and a marginally better opponent. Finally, we have "Intelligent" which is the most fun and even uses its cannon to locate mines. Sounds like fun, right?

As you can see, I shot the square ahead to reveal a mine. Wow, that was a close call. Phew :)

- Play The Game -

We begin each game by placing five mines secretly on your opponent's board (the ST will do the same on yours). Each player takes turns to safely guide a tank from one edge of their board to the other. We start each game by selecting any square from along the bottom row. Our tank can only move upwards or diagonally upwards and once a square tile has been used, it's removed from play. This will restrict your options later on...

Remember those five hidden mines? Well, to help locate these, use your cannon and fire at any square tile. The explosion will either result in a face or a skull: a smiley face means the tile is clean and free to use. However, if you see a skull then stay clear otherwise it's instant death - and for the duration of the game. Both players repeatably take turns until no tanks remain and the one with the most safely home is the winner. Easy peasy!

Sometimes this game shoots itself in the foot thanks to its earlier (bad) decisions...

- Graphics & Sounds -

Visually, this game will blow your socks off!! I'm talking 200+ colours, 50fps hardware scrolling and all in overscan... Okay, okay, there's nothing like that whatsoever but a game like this needs nothing more than to be functional. The board is basic but clear, the smilies are cute and the skulls look cheap but I really don't care. Nor should you.

I wasn't expecting much in the audio dept and that's exactly what I got. The old YM chip struggles as I fear Donald wasn't much of a sound guy? There are a few basic effects but it's all pretty lame and the tanks sound like a wasp is trapped in a spider's web. Not good. However, just like amateur graphics, it doesn't matter.

...and, ahem, as you can see we humans aren't too clever also. Sigh!

- The CryptO'pinion -

Sadly, I'm not convinced about the three difficulty levels, especially when watching the computer make some terrible mistakes. So it's a shame there's no option for two [human] players which would have been nice. Also, the 8x8 grid layout is a little too restricting and can leave both players with zero options towards the end - even though a couple of tanks might still remain. Okay, it's time I stopped being an idiot and remembered this isn't a commercial release.

Technically rubbish, yet here I am about to rave on about why you should download Minefield. I can't give you much of a reason, other than I've played dozens of games and loved every single second!! Yes, it's crude. Yes, it looks terrible. Yes, it sounds even worse. Yet, it's one of the most enjoyable board games I have played. Great fun and I loved it.

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