Since it first hit PCs a couple of years ago, Minecraft has taken the world by storm. There’s now a yearly MineCon convention. And Minecraft has even been taught in schools. Now, the game has sold a million copies within a few days of its release on Xbox Live.
Mojang for Xbox Live
Replay Value: 9.0
Overall Score: 8.8
Pros: Make your own creations. Blocky world feels real. Co-op ability.
Cons: World is slightly smaller than on the PC. Inventory is harder to navigate.
In case you don’t know, Minecraft is a building game. It’s a little like LEGO and a little like Lincoln Logs. You take various textured cubes and build what you want.
So where does the mining come in? The word “mine” is used loosely here. Gathering up trees is, in a sense, mining. You turn them into wood and then make your own structures. Finding the materials to make your own tools to build the wood into, say, a mansion, is mining, too.
It’s not just fun, it’s also really creative. You’re limited only by your own brain … and the time you put in.
ON XBOX LIVE
So let’s see if the Xbox Live version is as deep as the PC version.
First, the Xbox game lets you play co-op with friends and has its own crafting system to make things like tools. Since I’m a console guy, I enjoy making my structures with the controller as opposed to the PC mouse.
And there are tips galore, even as the game loads for the first time. The tutorials also make the game more kid friendly. With the original Minecraft for the PC, there was a ton of detective work you had to do. You had to figure out which substance would make what tool or piece of castle. That kind of research can be fun if you have nothing but time on your hands.
Now there is help for you along the way. Some say the tutorials lessen the magic. I say they add to it. You spend more of your time making things instead of puzzling over how to do things.
COOL AND CHALLENGING
When you dive into Minecraft, the experience is immediately really cool and charming. Simple piano music plays as you arrive on the shores of a beach. Use the right controller trigger to dig into the Earth and cut wood from trees. I didn’t make anything grand and glorious right away. I just set up the beginnings of a small shack by the sea.
Then, darkness fell. A square block of a moon rose high in the sky, and stars twinkled. As I stood there and gawked at nature’s beauty, I heard some steps behind me. Since I was kind of hypnotized by the sights, I didn’t realize it was a Creeper, one of the annoying monsters of Minecraft. I heard a ka-pow, and wham, I lost half my health.
My shelter wasn’t finished, and I couldn’t hide from him!
So I swam out to sea and stayed on a sandbar until morning. The Creeper, a handless creature with a twisted, angry mouth, isn’t always a night owl. Stay away from him during the day or night. He can blow up structures you make, too.
IT’S YOUR WORLD
There are plenty of achievements to get as you go along, such as when you make a furnace, open your inventory for the first time or catch a fish. Eventually, you’ll learn to make fire and electricity. If you play a really long time, you might even find the elusive Ender Dragon.
The graphics in Minecraft are old school, a nod to the early days of video games. But that’s the glory of Minecraft. If it looked too realistic, like Gran Turismo or even The Sims, it wouldn’t have the signature style that makes this game unique.
So go wild on Minecraft. Build like a modern architect. Build like a steampunk novelist. Build like a pioneer. Build high or long or with moats and forests. Build a Scout jamboree park. Then, tear it all down if you like.
This is your world. And Minecraft is a wonderful mirror that is nothing if not a reflection of you.