Minecraft is one of the most popular PC indie games of all time, with millions of users and a countless number of videos on YouTube about it, and it has been just recently ported to the Xbox 360 via the Xbox Live Arcade. The original PC version is a game that I wanted to play for a while but, even with as simple a game as Minecraft, my laptop didn’t have the ability to run the game properly. When I heard that I would be able to play it on my Xbox, I knew that I had to get it. Was the game every bit as good as its great popularity implied it to be? Let’s find out.
You wake up in the middle of a world, filled with animals and a variety of environments, and punch a tree down to craft some tools from it so that you can survive. That’s it. This isn’t a story driven game, no, it’s a sandbox-adventure where you…. mine(Shocking right?).
You start the game with nothing but a map, so to make tools you’re going to want to punch down a couple trees with your bare fists for wood. Then you get to start crafting(Mining and Crafting in Minecraft, I wouldn’t of guessed). To craft,you get a 2×2 grid(3×3 on a workbench) on which you mix ingredients together to create tools, weaponry, armor, etc… The difference between the Xbox version and the PC is that in the PC version, you have to move items into the grid according to a recipe that you happen know, on the Xbox, you go into a menu and they show you everything you can make and what ingredients you’ll need for them. Personally I like this easier, more user friendly crafting system, though some people might complain that the old system made you figure out how to make things(Even though so many people just looked up how to make things on the internet anyway).
Now that you have your equipment, you’ll soon notice that the sun’s going down and it’s getting dark out. If you don’t already know, nighttime is when the monsters of the game come out. In order to survive the night, you’re going to have to make a quick, makeshift shelter out of anything you have or around you. You’ll be doing this for a few nights. After you’ve amassed your supplies and tools, you’re going to want to build a more permanent home. So you find a nice area of land, start constructing the frame, build the walls and ceiling, place some windows, move your bed and chest inside and place a door. Then after your work, you take a step back, look at what you’ve done, and get that feeling of accomplishment. You made that home from your imagination, and you did it yourself. That’s the best part about Minecraft, the feeling you get after you’ve turned your imagination into a reality in the game. Before long, you’ll be making a giant copy of the Mona Lisa, in exact detail, or, my personal favorite, making the title screen and first fight of Mike Tyson’s Punchout in stop motion.
I could go on with all the things that you can do in this game, but that would take far to long. However I will mention two more important topics, combat and The Nether. To fight creatures you can really use any block or tool that you have but it’s most effective if you use a sword. To attack you hold the right trigger(I rapidly hit it) until you kill the creature. Most of the time they will hit you as well however. You can craft and wear armor to decrease the amount of damage they inflict and eat fish, that you catch, or porkchops, from pigs that you kill, or by making bread, cake or soup from a crafting table. The combat is a little difficult to get the hang of, and you will probably die a lot initially from trying to fight. Now, let’s talk about The Nether. The Nether is essentially hell, in fact that’s what the PC version originally called it. To get there you need to make a portal by placing obsidian in an open, rectangular shaped… well portal, and setting it on fire with a flint and steel. In The Nether there are monsters scattered throughout,some, such as the Ghast(A crying ghost that shoots fire), are only seen there. The real reason for going to The Nether, you might ask me. Honestly I don’t know. Maybe there’s more of a reason on the PC version, like special rocks(Besides glowstone, a bright light source), but as far as the Xbox edition goes, I don’t know.
The graphics in Minecraft are these pixelated, yet high definition, cubic structures. I have often heard people question “Why do the graphics look so old?’ which angers me, because they’re really not getting the point. The pixelated blocks are what make Minecraft, Minecraft. And really I don’t see a real complaint that should be made against the graphics. Just climb to the top of a mountain, and stare in awe at the lush environments that lie before you in the distance and you’ll see my point.
The music in this game is a nice and peaceful, background sound that you’ll enjoy hearing as you’re traversing the land, mining, farming or whatever else you may be doing. You can also construct a jukebox to play music discs that you find, or a note block that plays a note in rising and falling pitch and in different instruments, depending on what block you place it on.
Through Xbox Live, you can play through the game with seven other friends and explore the world. If you have the ability to play with some friends online in this game, I recommend it. While sometimes it’s nice to just do everything on your own, it’s great to have a group of people working towards a goal of mining for a rare block, or building a large community or work. The real only difference, as far as gameplay, from singleplayer to multiplayer is that if you want to sleep to skip nighttime, every player also needs to get in a bed. The only problem that occurred for me with the multiplayer was that it can get laggy. This most often occurred when I would get far away from the area that I started in, and would be either slight or severe at times.
Minecraft is a game that combines your personal imagination and want for adventure. It’s important to note that the Xbox version is based of an earlier version of the PC version, and certain features will be added to catch up to the PC version, such as a hunger meter and the infamous Enderman(Based on the mythical creature Slenderman). Though the game is great and has a ton of stuff to do, the knowledge that there will be more to do/fight/get in the future is awesome. Besides from some difficult combat and laggy multiplayer, the Xbox 360 port of Minecraft is an amazing game that achieves the quality of the PC original.
Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition gets 4.5 out of 5 stars.