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Mines and Solitaire Game Review

Novell Cool Solutions: Feature
By Scott M. Morris

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Posted: 20 Dec 2005

Applies To:

  • Platforms using Gnome


Every once in awhile, it's nice to pick a game or two and do a review of them. Today, I'd like to take a look at two games: Mines, and Solitaire. The machine I have them installed on is a Novell Linux Desktop 9 machine with Gnome as its desktop. First, let's take a look at Mines.


Mines is accessible from the PROGRAMS menu. There is a submenu called GAMES from which you can select MINES:

The main game window looks like this:

From the fine manual, we learn that: "The object of GNOME Mines is for the player to flag all mines hidden on the playing grid and to uncover all the remaining squares. If the player mistakenly uncovers a square containing a mine the game is lost. Winning games are ranked by how quickly the game was completed."

You have the use of three buttons on your mouse:

  1. The left mouse button, which reveals what's under a square.
  2. The right mouse button, which places a flag on a square. This is for when you are sure a square has a mine under it.
  3. The middle mouse button, which will reveal any squares where the number of flags in adjacent squares equals the number in the square that you middle-click. This is great for speeding up the game.

The numbers in the squares give you hints as to where the mines are. If there is a square with a "1" in it, and there's only a single uncovered square touching it, that's the one with the mine under it, so you'd right-click it to put a flag on it:

That is a simple example. There are more complex situations where logical deduction from the layout of the covered squares, the uncovered ones, and the numbers in them will tell you where the mines are.

I noticed that the documentation for Mines was quite helpful and thorough. So, if you get stuck or would like some pointers, that's a great place to look.

Mines allows you to choose different levels of difficulty. Built into the game are 3 levels: small, medium, and large. The smallest setting has 64 total squares hiding 10 mines. The largest setting has 480 total squares hiding 99 mines. The game also allows you to set your own number of squares:

If you get stuck, you can always have Mines give you a "hint." This means that Mines will choose and uncover a square for you that does not have a mine under it. It appears that you can do this an unlimited number of times. To test this theory, I played an entire game using just the "hint" option, and eventually won the game. This "hint" option is available from the "Game" menu:

Note, however, that when you use this "hint" option, it tacks 10 seconds onto your time. This is something that is not good, as you are trying to clear the mines quickly.

The more squares you play with, the smaller they become on your screen. One great thing about mines is that when you maximize the window, the squares resize, also. They become quite a bit bigger, making the game friendlier and easier to play.

Part of the object of Mines is to clear the minefield as quickly as possible. The faster you clear the board, the higher your score. If you clear the minefield in the shortest time, your name will be at the top of the list of high scores:

If you are looking for a great game to play that's not super complex, Mines is a cool game. Try it on for size and see what you think of it. I found it to be addicting.


Another fun game that is available in Gnome is called "Solitaire." To run this one, open the PROGRAMS menu, then select GAMES, then SOLITAIRE:

The main Solitaire window appears:

If Klondike is not your favorite kind of Solitaire, there are quite a number of other types of Solitaire games available. To select a different type, click on the SELECT button in the toolbar. A window appears with a list of Solitaire game types in it:

Select a type, then click OK. Since I do like Klondike, I'm going to keep it as it is. It's nice, however, that there is more than one type to play. This makes it nice for everyone, depending on the game type that they like to play.

Each game type also keeps statistics. This is kind of fun because it allows you to track your scores as you play. To see the statistics, open the GAME menu and click STATISTICS:

A small window appears, showing the statistics for that game type:

I also think that it's cool that you can change what the cards look like. If you open the VIEW menu, and select CARDS, a small window appears from which you can select your preferred card design.

Several other cool features of this game are that you can restart a game if you get stuck, you can undo a move, redo a move, and have Solitaire give you a hint. To get a hint, just click on the HINT button in the toolbar. A small box appears with a hint in it:

This is what it looks like when you win:

Solitaire is a great game for when you just need to unwind or have a few minutes to kill. It's fun and entertaining. See what you think.


Mines and Solitaire, available from the Gnome desktop, are well-designed and fun games to play. If you need some games that are immediately playable with minimal learning curve, give these two a try. I think you'll like them.

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