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Blind Sweeper

Author: Andy 'Uglifruit' Jenkinson Machine Type: Spectrum 48K
Submitted on: 12th of June, 2020 Download or play online

Another day, another game, and this time it’s a puzzler by Andy Jenkinson, entitled Blind Sweeper. This game is similar in style to Mined Out by Quicksilva, but with a smaller grid and the “advantage” of Currah Microspeech support. Yes, this game talks!

Once the tape has loaded, we are presented with the instructions. The aim is to collect the case which is hidden somewhere in the minefield, and then exit to the other side, using the radio as infrequently as possible (the operative gets paid on a word-by-word basis, and the department is looking to cut costs). Pressing SPACE to begin, we are swiftly dropped into a grid of O’s, representing the unchecked squares. These O’s are filled in once you walk over them. The radio displays the number of mines adjacent and is coloured according to the case’s proximity.

For a BASIC game, the controls are very responsive, and the graphics are crisp and clean, if somewhat spartan. Sound is used sparingly but effectively, and the gameplay is solid. Of course, that’s when the Microspeech isn’t being used. When you plug it in to the computer (power switched off for this, of course!), the radio comes to life with the stilted, monotonous dialogue of the operative.

Apart from the boring voice, one of the major problems with the Microspeech support is that information for every cell you visit is buffered in the speech unit, even after you’ve left that cell. This can lead to the situation of the radio operative falling behind the action on screen, in some cases quite severely. You’ve still got the visual feedback to use, but it is annoying to have to listen to the voice drone on incessantly (click here for example). Of course, the biggest issue with the speech is that it is entirely superfluous. You can play the game without the unit by just using the visual indicator – and I highly recommend that you do so, for your own sanity.

Just like with Andy’s last game, I was sent an updated version soon after I received the original. This “deluxe” version counts mines in surrounding squares, not just those adjacent like the original version, making the game much more difficult. If you want any chance of a low score with it, you have to take notes with a pencil and paper, at which point it becomes tedious and bland rather than an amusing diversion.

Overall, Blind Sweeper is a textbook example of “less is more”. Without the speech, it’s a neat little puzzler with simple but addictive gameplay. With the speech, it becomes a mind-numbing trial of patience. All I can say is: well done Andy! Keep ‘em coming!

Scores

Graphics Sound Gameplay Innovation TOTAL
40% 24% 60% 25% 37%