Screenshot of Mined-Out
|Author:||Ian Andrew (Quiksilva)|
|Initial release:||March 1983|
|OS:||Spectrum (later BBC Micro, BBC Electron, Dragon, Lynx, Oric)|
|Genre:||Early Minesweeper Games|
Mined-Out is a computer game written by Ian Andrew in 1983 for Quicksilva, released for the ZX Spectrum computer. The player attempts to cross a field of hidden mines using numbers as hints. It is the earliest known game of this type, and likely inspired other grid crossing games such as Relentless Logic which eventually led to the creation of Windows Minesweeper.
The object of the game is to safely cross a mine field. The mine field is surrounded by a fence, and the player crosses from an opening at the bottom of the screen to an opening at the top of the screen. After each move the game tells you the number of mines adjacent to your location. The bottom and top rows are always safe, and the highest number is 4 because the game does not count mines diagonally. After crossing the mine field the player is rewarded with speed points and moves on to the next level.
The grid for each level is 19x30 of which 17x30 contains mines. Starting on Level 2 each grid has two female worms waiting to be rescued. Navigating to these damsels rewards the player with bonus points. Level 3 introduces a Mine Spreader that places more mines if the player is slow. These new mines are visible, but the Mine Spreader will also change the locations of hidden mines. This makes the game more difficult than Minesweeper, because you can not mark the locations of mines and you only know the number of mines touching your current square. Level 4 introduces a Bug, which is a mine with legs that follows your path. If you are caught, the game ends. On Level 6 your path starts disappearing behind you, making it very difficult to remember solved mine locations. If you successfully finish Level 9 you rescue Bill the Worm. If you lose, you can save your high score and watch a video replay of your game.
Each release for a different computer system has its own set of keyboad controls, but the player only needs to navigate left, right, up and down. Other game controls are for speeding up or ending game replays so the player can start a new game sooner. There are sound effects throughout the game, mostly various beeps and explosions. The release for the BBC Micro plays the opening line of "2001: A Space Odyssey" when you enter a new Highscore. The original Spectrum version counts the fence as a mine but the BBC Micro version corrects this mistake. Other differences between versions include varying levels of graphics quality, changes to text and the number of levels.
Ian Andrew (UK) always had a fascination for games and in 1969 built his first, a pinball machine made out of wood. He then started writing maze puzzles for magazines.
Ian was among the first people to buy the Sinclair ZX81 when it was released in March 1981. This was a black and white computer with 1kb of memory, able to display 24x32 characters. Ian taught himself how to program in BASIC and started writing games as a hobby. In April 1982 the colour ZX Spectrum 48k was released and he quickly purchased machine number 638. Combining his love for puzzles and games, he came up with the idea of using clues to cross a minefield. As Ian explained to this website, "The game came to be as the spectrum had a character based screen when working in basic - and it seemed to lend itself to a logic type puzzle."
The original version had a single level, with the game using the full 24x32 screen but the minefield being 19x30 due to space for messages and the fence surrounding the minefield. Beta testing was performed by his mother, and once she mastered the game he decided it needed more levels. In a May 1985 interview with CRASH magazine Ian stated, "Mined-Out was deliberately different to the games available for the Spectrum in those days" since "generally games only had one level and just got faster the longer you played them. I wrote Mined-Out as a one-level game originally and my mother tested it out for me. Quite soon she had mastered it, so I added another level and it went on until there were eight levels in all." The marketed version in the end had 9 levels and the cover showed a topless girl, of which Ian recalls, "my mother did not approve!"
Ian submitted the game to Quiksilva in response to an advertisement and Mined-Out was published in March 1983 at a retail price of £4.95. This was the 6th game released by Quiksilva for the Spectrum. The earliest known advert was in the March 8-14th edition of Home Computing Weekly and the popularity of the game led to several versions being released by Quiksilva for different computers. The first was a port to the BBC Micro Model B by Ian Rowlings, published in October 1983 (£6.95, 9 levels). This was followed by a release for the BBC Electron in January 1984 (£6.95), a port to the Dragon by brother Chris Andrew in March 1984 (£5.95, 7 levels), a version for the Lynx at least by June 1984 (£6.95) and finally for the Oric in July 1984 (£6.95, 8 levels).
In addition to the official UK releases, the Spectrum version was sold by several other publishers. It appears to have been sold first by Microparadise Software (1983), which translated the cover and instructions into Spanish but not the game. A full translation into Spanish was then sold by Investronica SA as 'Campo de Minas' (1983) with Quiksilva translating their 'Bugaboo' into English and selling in the UK. Another Spanish release was by Monser SA as 'Campo Minado' (1985, 9 levels), although screens in the game call it 'Campo Explosivo' and there are additional graphics and programming by Manuel Gomez Amate. In the UK it was re-released by Your Sinclair magazine as part of a games compilation (Dec 1991).
The success of the game inspired Ian to found Incentive Software in 1983.
Mined-Out is the first known computer game where a player must cross a field of mines using number clues. It almost certainly inspired Relentless Logic (1985), a precursor of Windows Minesweeper (1990), that also featured a field of mines to be crossed, warning the player of adjacent mines in the same manner. It is interesting that one Spanish re-release named it 'Campo de Minas' (Field of Mines), which is the translation of Minesweeper in other languages such as 'Campo Minato' in Italian and 'Campo Minado' in Portuguese.
Copies of the original game tape are available online. To play on modern computers you can download the files here and open with an emulator. There are many emulators online, some are suggested here.
- Mined-Out (Spectrum) Original release for the ZX Spectrum 48K (1983), TZX format. Download the Eighty-One emulator (free) and simply load from the menu.
- Campo de Minas (Spectrum) - Investronica Spanish version released 1983, in TZX format.
- Mined-Out (BBC Micro) for the BBC Micro (1983), SSD format. Download the Model-B emulator (free) and load the game using the Quickstart menu. You will need to change the Keymap and replace the command keys with keys that exist on your computer. Choose 'Keymap' from the menu, click the BBC key you want to change and press the key on your computer you prefer. Remember to save your settings and then choose your new keymap from the menu instead of the default.
- Mined-Out (Dragon) - Release for the Dragon (1984) in CAS format. Emulators include XROAR and MESS.
- Mined-Out (BBC Electron) - Release for the BBC Electron (1984) in UEF format. Emulators include ElectrEm, Elkulator and MESS.
- Mined-Out (RISC) - Port for RISC OS, unknown publisher but credits both Andrew and Rowlings so likely a clone of the BBC Micro version. Written after 1987 release of RISC, timestamps suggest 1995.
- Mined-Out (Oric) - This is not the official Oric release, the code removes any reference to Ian or Quiksilva, stating it has been "Cracked by the Hackers" and is "v2 by A. Wyard" with modifications by a "P.Shirley".
- Emails dated 7 & 21 July 2010, 8 Nov 2013 between Ian Andrew and this author
- Interview with Ian Andrew - CRASH magazine interviewed Ian Andrew in the May 1985 issue
- Original Games - Games site run by Ian Andrew
- World of Spectrum - Mined-Out downloads and release history for the Spectrum computer
- World of Dragon - History of the Mined-Out release for the Dragon computer
- Stairway to Hell - Thousands of BBC games and downloads, including the Micro and Electron releases
Mined-Out inspired several copycat versions. You can play most of the Spectrum clones using the free Eighty-One emulator. One version though requires a TR-DOS emulator (such as Spectaculator). In addition to those listed below, there was also a clone called 'Mine-Field' released by VideoSpectrum in 1984 in Spain that no longer exists. You can also argue that Relentless Logic and all its clones leading up to the creation of Windows Minesweeper are variations of Mined-Out.
 Yomp (Spectrum)
|Oz Software, for Virgin Games (UK)|
Link: World of Spectrum
|Written for the ZX Spectrum 16K. The player must get 3 of his 5 paratroopers across four lanes of traffic in an obvious imitation of the more famous Frogger game. The survivors must cross a field of mines to get reinforcements. Crossing the minefield is easy because there is an inset screen showing your position and all the mine locations - you simply have to guide your player around the mines and trees while avoiding a moving purple object. There are 6 levels of difficulty. This game was released in 1983 and tried to imitate the success of Frogger (1981) and Mined-Out (earlier in 1983). According to 'Crash' magazine, "There’s no disguising the fact that this is a frogger game with ‘mined-out’ pretensions".|
 Minas (Spectrum)
|Mario Aporta Cruz|
Grupo de Trabajo Software (Spain)
|Download: Minas 1|
Link: World of Spectrum
Download: Minas 2
Link: World of Spectrum
|Written for the ZX Spectrum 48K and released as part of a 19 game compilation, then an updated version later that year in a 15 game collection. In Minas 2 the goal is to cross the grid while collecting green dots, at the same time trying to avoid mines. You start with 5 lives and progress through the levels until no lives are left. Mine locations are briefly shown before each level starts and you must avoid them from memory.|
Note: Author could not get Minas 1 to run on various emulators. To play Minas 2, load into the Spectaculator emulator. After it is done showing you all the menus, type 'C' and hit enter. Then click on the Casette icon and select Minas from the list of 15 games, then press 'Play'.
 Minenfeld (Atari)
Joerg Keller (Germany)
|Download: Minenfeld 1.2 (.PRG)|
|You need to get "Hugo" across a minefield using the arrow keys, exactly like in the Spectrum game Mined-Out. You start with 5 lives and get additional lives by reaching 3000 points or by finding Jokers. There is also Treasure that gives you 200 bonus points. If you complete a level you continue to the next one and the number of hidden mines increases. If you hit a mine you lose a life, the spot is marked with a cross, and Hugo goes back to the bottom of the screen. If you touch a cross you lose another life and lose 50 points. Fewer moves, more Treasure and more levels gives you more points. To tease you, the Highscore is preset at 3456 points by Keller. Game is monochrome.|
 Minefield (Spectrum)
|Stephen Corry (UK)|
Link: World of Spectrum
|Written for the ZX Spectrum 48K. The player must get Fred across a field of mines. Every square is a mine, but only some of them explode when stepped on. Crossing is pure luck, and there are 5 levels of increasing difficulty. You get 10 points for moving to a square, and bonus points for completing levels.|
 Bomb Ed (Spectrum)
Hellenic Software (Greece)
|Download: Bomb Ed|
Link: World of Spectrum
|Written for the ZX Spectrum 48K and published in the April 1992 issue of Sinclair User. The magazine hosted a competition where the user with the highest submitted score won a game console. It is a clone of Mined-Out but with only 1 level and better graphics. Ed is lost in a forest and the goal is to get him home, from the bottom right corner to the top left corner. Maximum score is 500 and the timer counts down as you play. If you are near a mine a warning message appears telling you the number of touching mines. Screenshot is from an action replay of a finished game.|
 MineMan 2 (Spectrum)
|Triumph Game Labs (Russia)|
|Download: MineMan 2|
Link: World of Spectrum
|Written for the ZX Spectrum 48K or 128K. Grid is 20x20 and player must navigate from the top right corner to the flag at the bottom left corner. After each move you are warned of adjacent mines. Player starts with 3 lives and keeps playing the game over again until lives are lost, meanwhile accumulating points for opening squares and bonus points for completing games.|