The year was 1990 and I was running a small retail store. Sitting around waiting for customers, I decided to install this new thing called Microsoft Entertainment Pack for Windows, which I received as a gift. Included was a little game called Minesweeper. Once smitten, it was practically all I did at work…morning, noon and sometimes night.
The object of Minesweeper is simple: Click on, and reveal hundreds of tiny squares on a blank grid without hitting a deadly mine. Most squares are “safe”, and offer a clue as to the location of nearby mines. Clear the grid and you win; click on a mine by accident and your game comes to a fiery end.
Exactly a quarter-century later, my old friend is back; on steroids! Meet ManaCollect, a fresh take on the Minesweeper premise. Developed by Tazigen Clock and published by Fruitbat Factory, this game revitalizes the genre with colorful graphics, faced-paced combat and delightful moe manga overtones.
ManaCollect‘s grid contains hex spaces, rather than squares. Each hex provides a numeric clue as to the presence of nearby hotspots. Rather than mines to avoid, we now have mana pools to collect! The numerals indicate the exact number of pools adjacent to the hex itself. The numeral provides no clue regarding its own content. So while a “0” means there are no pools around it, there may well be a pool on that hex itself!
When you think you’ve found a hidden pool, place a marker onto that hex to claim it as your own. If your prospect is correct, you collect the mana. If you are wrong, you can lose mana and potentially suffer other penalties. Additionally, locating several pools in a quick, successive “chain” yields bonus mana. Finding all of the grid’s pools in a single chain bestows the coveted “Full Collect” bonus, which offers the highest resource rewards.
Sometimes an opponent will join you on the grid, vying for the precious pools. This can be either an AI opponent, or another human player. As your reserves increase, you’ll be able to cast spells and activate special abilities. These serve to reduce your opponent’s mana and weaken their presence on the grid. You achieve immediate victory upon reducing your opponent’s mana to zero. If you fail to do this, the battle’s timer will expire; the victor being the player with more mana in their respective reserve at that time. So as we can see, the developer has preserved the iconic tenets of Minesweeper, while enhancing it to be a lot more fun.
Overall, is ManaCollect worth the price tag? The answer is a resounding “Yes”. For fans of click-and-reveal puzzles, timed skirmishes and engaging manga story lines, this game is a must.