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Minecraft Pocket Edition Mini Review

by on September 1, 2011

Minecraft has become nothing less than a phenomenon. Developed by indie studio Mojang, the game has created a fanbase in the hundreds of thousands and become an instant cult classic. The basic gameplay mechanics are so simply, yet so addictive, and it’s the simplicity that is so appealing.

Markus ‘Notch’ Persson, head honcho at Mojang has basically created a game around the player. The simple premise of Minceraft is user generated content, and it started out as a pure sandbox. In what’s now referred to as ‘Classic Mode’, the player is provided with an inventory full of blocks of all different colours, textures and densities. The player can then use these blocks to build anything they can imagine, in the 3D world.

Minecraft is a game that is constantly evolving and changing. With the addition of ‘Adventure Mode’ creation is still key, but extra mechanics were added to make Minecraft feel more like a ‘game’ than a pure creation tool. The player can now craft tools and resources that are gathered through mining, farming and crafting. There is a basic combat system with various weapon types and a whole range of enemy mobs. Dungeons make for interesting exploration, with the hopes of finding Diamond, but be careful where you dig – there are a few nasty surprises to be had!

Minecraft Pocket Edition is basically a mobile version of Minecraft Classic. There’s no Adventure Mode unfortunately, but this is probably down to the platform limitations, and Notch has specified that the creative gameplay is perfect for on-the-go gaming, whereas adventure mode wouldn’t translate well to mobile gaming.

However, there is Multiplayer in the Pocket Edition. Players can host or join sessions via WiFi (which is a very welcome feature) for some multiplayer building action.

The Pocket Edition released as version 0.1.0 alpha, so we’re assuming there will be plenty of updates to come even though Minecraft Classic on the PC has been polished and no further development has taken place since the upgrade to Adventure Mode. Who knows, a future version of the Pocket Edition may actually include an Adventure Mode of some kind.

One niggle I noticed while playing Minecraft Pocket Edition, is that with the huge variety of building blocks you’re given, it’s quite odd that there’s no door. You have access to basic building blocks of different colours, torches and ladders, but no doors. That makes building houses a little tricky. It’s a shame you can’t cycle through all of the blocks obtainable from the full PC version of the game, although Minecraft Pocket Edition already has a greater block selection than the original Minecraft Classic.

Auto-jump is a small but fantastic addition. It just makes mobile navigation so much easier. The controls as a whole are pretty well designed, with RT for placing, LT for destroying and D-pad for movement, whilst the right analogue controls the camera. X is for manual jumping, Triangle brings up the player’s inventory, Square/Circle cycle through the quickbar for fast selection of blocks, or you can simply tap the screen to select a block.

There’s an option for “Fancy Graphics”, which when unchecked will lower the render distance etc. for a smoother gameplay.

As a whole this game feels like a natural fit for the mobile and has clearly been designed as such. It’s not an empty port, that’s for sure. While it’s not as fullfilling gameplay-wise as the PC’s Adventure Mode, it’ll still provide quick sessions of time-killing fun. For me, it’s the perfect game for public transport; whip it out on the bus/tube and quickly put it away with no bother, not having to worry about creepers or skeletons approaching my builds!

I recommend this creative sandbox game to For Minecraft fans and Lego fans alike. Anyone who enjoys playing with building blocks can sync hours into this mobile experience.

Minecraft Pocket Edition is exclusively available for Xperia Play at the moment, but will be released for other Android devices as well as iOS devices at some point in the future.