Diving Into the Windows 8 Versions of Classic Microsoft Games

Kick back with your favorite Microsoft game for fun relaxation

In the past, when Microsoft launched a new version of Windows, it included a bevy of bundled games you could pop open to waste some time. You're probably already familiar with indulging in "Solitaire" or "Minesweeper" to keep your boredom at bay. However, there's no point in clicking around Windows 8 looking for the games. 

Windows 8 doesn't come with any bundled games. Gasp!

Try not to get too out of sorts. Your favorite games and more are still available. You just have to head out to the Microsoft Store to find them. They have a new coat of paint, a few new features and are still free of charge. 

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'Microsoft Solitaire Collection'

Microsoft Solitaire collection offers a bundle of great games.
What We Like
  • Connects with Xbox Live.

  • Share your scores with friends.

  • Achievements and leader boards add a competitive element.

What We Don't Like
  • Distracting in-app advertisements.

  • Earning every achievement can take many months.

The "Microsoft Solitaire Collection" is a single download from the Microsoft Store that provides five card games, including classic games you’ve seen in other Windows releases and a couple of new titles you’re sure to enjoy

  • "Klondike" is 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" is the same game you know and love, just freshened up a bit. It consists of a table full of cards you need to rearrange to form stacks from King to Ace. Your completed stacks are removed from the table, and you win when you clear them all.
  • "FreeCell"  is a classic game similar to "Klondike" that’s been bundled with Windows since Windows 95. 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 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" is 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" is another new title. In this one, you clear 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 can switch among a series of themes that change the look of the table, your cards, the effects, and the background sound.

  • 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 in the wind. The sound of the wind blowing coupled with the animated falling leaves in the background make for a 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 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 add a lot to this theme. You 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.
What We Like
  • Highly customizable interface.

  • Keeps track of your best times for each difficulty level.

What We Don't Like
  • Includes intrusive video ads.

  • Suffers from stability issues.

Classic Mode

Users who download "Microsoft Minesweeper" to play the classic game of clearing mines based on numeric clues will find what they’re looking for in this classic game. The old school game is here in all its glory. You can choose between three difficulty settings that alter the size of the board, and you can also create a custom board choosing the size of the minefield and the number of mines you need to flag. While the updated version of the classic Minesweeper has been given a face-lift, it’s boring compared to the real surprise you’ll find in "Microsoft Minesweeper": Adventure mode.

Adventure Mode

In Adventure mode, 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 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.
What We Like
  • Gorgeous background images create a zen-like mood.

  • Four difficulty settings each with dozens of layouts.

What We Don't Like
  • Limited selection of tile sets.

  • No option to play against others.

"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 introduced 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 fun 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 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 faint bubbles.

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