Welcome to the Mine Storm strategy guide. Please note though that this is strictly a strategy guide, and will be jumping into that subject right away; unlike most strategy guides in general that cover the gameplay, controls, when the game came out blah blah etc. on such subject, none of that will be covered here. If anyone needs to see any of that stuff, kindly just go back to the Mine Storm page for just that. Thank you.
Basic strategies/early Mine Fields
ALWAYS look for and find a decent spot to move and park your spaceship after the Minelayer seeds a Mine Field before the Mines hatch. Your ship should be in an area where there are very few dots (/unhatched Mines), if possible (which sometimes isn't possible, unfortunately, due to the random way the Minelayer scatters around the Mines wherever it pleases). Try to avoid the bottom area of the screen when a new Mine Field begins near where the words "Mine Field__" (with corresponding Mine Field number) will appear, which could obscure an unhatched Mine or make it hard to see until it's too late. The shots in the Gallery at the bottom of this guide named as Figures 1-3 show areas marked by letter that are decent areas to move your ship to (note: the straight numbered photos denote the untouched screenshots as is, while the ones marked with an "A" [1a, 2a, 3a] is the same shot, but marked with positions). And once Mines start hatching and start being destroyed, more areas will open up, so keep alert and move your ship to those areas when possible.
Try not to use Thrust too often until you start having to deal with the Magnetic and/or Fireball Mines and space dust (there will be more on those in later sections), then you'll have to use it often. Also, don't use it for too long if possible, as it doesn't take much time at all for your ship to travel really quickly and possibly into a Mine. Use Escape even less, as it can put you in an even worse predicament than before you had used it.
BE AWARE OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. This includes the situations when you have to flee by using Thrust and your ship wraps around from one screen edge to another; make sure there isn't one or more Mines on the other side of the screen you're about to emerge from (i. e. if you're at the bottom of the screen heading down and you'll reappear at the top, so make sure there are no Mines at that top section of the screen you're about to appear at). Remember this if you're being pursued by Magnetic Mines or space dust. Try to be alert as to how few unhatched Mines are left, since it's a good idea to be ready for the Minelayer if it's about to come out and to deal with it as soon as possible.
Do "cleanup" whenever possible; i. e. take care of a bunch of the smaller/quicker moving Mines and space dust when the screen is littered with a lot of such dangers. Sure it's fun to shoot away at anything that moves to your heart's content, but it won't be long before you have to start discriminating for your safety's (and remaining ships') sake. Also, a lot of the time it's a good idea to destroy one Mine and it's smaller ones when they hatch whenever possible, rather than shooting at anything that moves and constantly making Mines multiply that way when you shoot the large- and medium-sized ones.
These can be a pain, especially for those that say they have never gotten past the second Mine Field. Granted, possibly with no matter what someone does, they may never get any better at the game, but here are a few things to try for those nonetheless:
Before firing at a Fireball Mine, make sure your ship is not really close to it; if one is passing within firing range and it is only an inch and a half or less away, allow it to pass by without shooting it. The further your ship is away from the Mine, the safer youâ€™ll be, and the more time you'll have to react to it, whether to keep on shooting in hopes of destroying the Fireball it releases, to turn and thrust away, or using Escape if you have to (although that should be avoided as much as possible though).
Try to make sure you are firing directly at the Mine, since most of the time it will launch the Fireball straight at your ship. This will better ensure that you will be able to destroy the Fireball.
As it was mentioned earlier, pay attention to your surroundings, such as shooting a medium-sized Fireball Mine, which would turn into two small ones somewhere on the screen...one of which could be right in your line of fire, launching another Fireball in the process, which could end up destroying your ship.
Be wary of Mines that are glowing very brightly, as there is more than one Mine on top of each other. Make sure you have plenty of distance from these formations and have enough time to react to more than one Fireball coming your way. Also, try to shoot just one in the formation, which will only launch one Fireball, which, if you are a fair distance away, pausing long enough could ensure that the other Mine(s) will continue on its course without launching an additional Fireball and will give you enough time to deal with the one Fireball that is coming your way.
Magnetic and Magnetic-Fireball Mines
Unfortunately this might be "game over" for those who can't handle thrusting around a lot, so there isn't much that can be helped there. For those that can though, keep these tips in mind:
Remember to have enough reaction time to turn around and thrust out of a situation if faced with several of these Mines coming after you at once (or use Escape if you have to, but as per usual, that's not always that great an idea). When several of them are together in a group, shooting as many as possible doesn't have as many consequences as firing at several Fireball Mines and having to deal with their shots as well.
Try to pick off the smaller ones when possible; there's nothing worse than thrusting around, trying to take care of ones that are threatening you, trying not to shoot while passing really close (or on top of) unhatched Mines and by making even MORE of them appear by shooting larger ones (whether they are Magnetic or even regular "dumb" Mines, as it's still more you'll have to deal with). The smaller ones move faster too, which is another reason to try to deal with them quicker than the larger ones.
And as it was mentioned, try not to shoot much of anything if you are thrusting near or through an area of unhatched Mines. New ones could appear right on top of you and cost you a reserve ship when hatched.
Pretty much the same strategies apply with Magnetic-Fireball Mines, especially in regards to several of them being on top of each other that was mentioned earlier (use extreme caution in a situation such as these!), although with one additional thing to note/step to take:
Pretty much the previous strategy along the lines of "pay attention to your whereabouts" applies here, especially since space dust can be hard to spot, and shooting them results in the same big explosion that shooting all Mines do as well, which restricts your field of vision for an instant. Be on the lookout for their launching from a dot on the screen. Also, when doing "cleanup" of a lot of space dust drifting around, shoot the faster moving pieces, rather than the slow ones, as the latter will hatch even more space dust. So concentrate on the quicker moving ones to get them off the screen as soon as possible without creating even more pieces of space dust to have to deal with.
Magnetic and/or Fireball space dust
Pretty much the same aforementioned strategies apply towards the Mines that have these attributes, along with knowing what you're dealing with: if you're being followed by the Magnetic-Fireball ones that have one bright dot next to another dot, seek out and destroy the smaller and faster moving ones if possible in order so they won't hatch into smaller versions of themselves when shot, unlike how the bigger ones will. Use the same strategies of thrusting around and using screen edges to your advantage so they will launch their Fireballs at them rather than your ship.
Mine Fields 13 and beyond
There are at least three versions of Mine Storm; one just flat-out crashes at level 13, which could possibly be the end of the game no matter what. Another version allows the player to continue on, although they must do several things in order to keep their game going:
Stay as close to the center of the screen as possible when taking care of the last Mine or two or space dust. The further the player is away from the center that has this version, the higher the chances are that the game will crash.
Try to keep from pushing any more buttons than you have to when the last Mines or pieces of space dust are destroyed, and ESPECIALLY stay away from pressing Escape and Thrust once the current Mine Field you are on are cleared, as the game might think you're pressing a button to choose a player format (i. e. one or two players) and the next thing you could see is the dreaded choose player menu when it crashes back to that screen, ending your game.
This version ends at Mine Field 89, if a player is able to make it that far. If so, it is marked by several space dust particles and what appears to be a fireball that slowly travels around the playfield. Shooting the latter won't produce any other, smaller fireballs. There will still be several dots (unhatched Mines) onscreen when the player either destroys all other Mines or pieces of space dust. The player will have to either press reset or turn off their Vectrex to end the game or sacrifice a ship in order to start the Mine Field over.
The third known version, which is the overseas version that was released after the North American launch of the Vectrex, has a bit of code cleanup and is not known to crash, as well as having some changes (the Magnetic Mines make their debut during the second Mine Field, then the Fireball Mines appear afterwards, rather than the latter starting on the second level). Reportedly people have gotten to Mine Field 90 on this version. It is currently unknown if the game ends there or if players can keep going, although it did not sound like the aforementioned strategies of staying near the center of the screen were needed for what is assumed to be the second North American version that ends at Mine Field 89.
So, that ends the game for two out of three known versions, as well as this guide :) Happy storming! (Guide by Darrylb500)