Windows 8 Versions of Classic Microsoft Games

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No Games in Windows 8

Windows 8 has updated versions of Microsoft's classic games.
Used with permission from Microsoft. Microsoft

Your first time playing around with Windows 8, you'll likely be pretty busy. It's a whole new operating system with a vastly different user interface than previous versions of Windows. You'll doubtlessly spend a lot of time clicking around trying to acquaint yourself with the new Start screen, the Charms bar and everything else. It ought to be exciting and fun as you discover new features and try them out for the first time.

Eventually, that excitement will wear off. You'll settle into a routine and inevitably you'll find yourself bored. It happens to all of us. Luckily, Microsoft has always provided for such an occasion with a bevy of bundled games you could pop open to waste some time. You may want to find Solitaire or Minesweeper to keep your boredom at bay, but before you start clicking around wondering where they're hidden, I'll save you some time. Windows 8 doesn't come with any bundled games.

I know you're outraged, I was too. Try not to get too out of sorts though, these games and more are still available, you'll just have to head out to the Windows Store to find them. They've all got a new coat of paint, a few new features and are, of course, still free of charge. Read on and I'll show you the new Windows 8 versions of your favorite classic Microsoft games.

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Microsoft Solitaire Collection

Microsoft Solitaire collection offers a bundle of great games.
Used with permission from Microsoft. Microsoft

The Collection

The Microsoft Solitaire Collection is a single download that provides five great card games. This includes classic games you’ve seen in other Windows releases as well as a couple new titles you’re sure to enjoy.

  • Klondike – The quintessential Windows solitaire game in which you clear a table of five runs of cards by creating piles of suited cards from Ace to King. You can stack cards numerically as long as they alternate colors.
  • Spider Solitaire – The same Spider Solitaire you know and love, just freshened up a bit. It consists of a table full of cards you’ll need to rearrange to form stacks from King to Ace. Your completed stacks are removed from the table and you win when you’ve cleared them all.
  • Freecell – The classic game that’s been bundled with Windows since ‘95. Similar to Klondike, you win by making four suited stacks from Ace to King and you can stack cards numerically if they alternate colors. To move cards around, you can drag them to one of four free cells at the top of the board. When those cells are full, you can only move one card at a time.
  • Pyramid – A new solo card game in which you attempt to clear a stacked pyramid of cards by finding various pairs that add up to 13.
  • TriPeaks – My personal favorite, TriPeaks is another new title. In this one you’ll be clearing a table of three peaks of stacked cards by clicking a card that is one higher or lower than the card in your deck. You’ll do well by stringing multiple cards together.

New Look

As with the other new Microsoft games, the Solitaire collection looks great. You have a series of themes you can switch between that change the look of your table, your cards, your effects and your background noise.

  • Beach – Play on a sandy beach with an island sunset deck. The sound of waves in the background is sure to relax you while you play.
  • Autumn – Play beneath a tree bedecked in orange leaves with a deck depicting leaves on the wind. The sound of wind blowing coupled with the animated falling leaves in the background make for a very serene playing environment.
  • Aquarium – Play underwater with a nautical map themed deck. You’ll enjoy the sounds of water and the moving coral in the background.
  • Classic – You’ll play on a green felt table with a pretty typical deck of cards. No background noises or animations in this theme, just the basics.
  • Western – Play on an old wooden table with an old timey deck of cards. The saloon noises in the background really make this theme great. You’ll hear horses hitched out front, spurred boots against floorboards and the clanks and murmurs of other patrons enjoying their beers.

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Microsoft Minesweeper

Microsoft Minesweeper adds a new game mode and a fun new theme.
Used with permission from Microsoft. Microsoft

Two Ways to Play

Those downloading Microsoft Minesweeper to play the classic game of clearing mines based on numeric clues will find what they’re looking for. The old school game is here in all its glory. You can choose between three difficulty settings which alter the size of the board and you can also create a custom board choosing the size of your minefield and the number of mines you’ll need to flag. While the updated version of the classic Minesweeper has been given a face lift, and even a garden theme that changes your mines to dancing lady bugs, it’s boring compared to the real surprise you’ll find in Microsoft Minesweeper.

Adventure Mode

It may be hard to imagine an Adventure Mode to Minesweeper, but it actually works. Rather than a simple grid that you click on to reveal numbers or mines, you control an avatar in a dungeon setting. The dungeons are full of dirt that you excavate by clicking on a square. As you uncover the floor, you find the numbers you’d expect in a Minesweeper game alerting you to traps. Hit a trap and you lose a life, lose all your lives and you lose the game.

It’s your task to uncover enough of the level to escape safely. You’ll find various power-ups to help along the way including maps that reveal trap locations, bombs to blow out solid walls and weapons to kill various monsters you might happen upon as you adventure. Adventure Mode certainly isn’t what you’d expect from a Minesweeper title, but it’s a lot of fun and a great addition.

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Microsoft Mahjong

Microsoft Mahjong offers a bevy of relaxing themes to help you unwind.
Used with permission from Microsoft. Robert Kingsley

Microsoft Mahjong doesn’t have any major feature changes. There are no new games, no crazy surprises, just the basic game you’d expect. Don’t let that stop you from downloading it though. Mahjong’s value isn’t in its ability to excite you, but rather its ability to calm you down.

The new themes introduces to Mahjong do a wonderful job of providing a relaxing setting. The ambient noises are soothing and the gameplay is so basic that it’s almost hypnotic. There are a bunch of great themes to choose from:

  • Tranquility – This theme gives you a nice garden background and sounds of birds, insects and moving water.
  • Autumn Glade – This theme – my favorite – offers a beautiful background of autumn leaves around a secluded lake. You’ll play to the sounds of birds chirping and wind blowing through leaves.
  • Cosmos – This theme has you playing in outer space with strange cosmic noises to accompany you.
  • Underwater – This theme has a dynamic background of fish floating by. The ambient noises are a sort of deep bassy sound with very faint bubbles.

Each theme is unique and all are soothing. This game is a great way to unwind when the stress piles up.