Mojang, the creators of Minecraft, have recently released an iPhone app for their very successful game. The app goes by the name Minecraft Pocket Edition. You can download the app on iTunes for $6.99 or test out the limited lite version for free.
Being a fan of the game I was initially ecstatic to learn that I would now be able to devote hundreds of hours building and exploring the virtual world not only on my computer, but on the go as well. No more being restricted to the confines of my home, no more having to stop the creative juices flowing because of stupid work commitments. Now I would finally be free to build my empire.
But I was wrong…
When I got to work, the first thing I did was jump right on my iPhone and started to download the Minecraft App. While downloading, I was extremely busy trying to contain my excitement and desperately trying to come up with plausible excuses to explain to my boss about my poor work performance that would surely follow. Finally, after a fairly quick download I loaded the app. It was almost like I was 6 years old again on Christmas morning, with all the excitement and adrenaline running through my veins. But just as quickly as these emotions came on, they were quickly destroyed when I soon made the realization that I could not connect or interact with my established Minecraft server. In fact, I wouldn’t be connecting to any Minecraft server. What I was now holding in my trembling hands was not the popular addicting game of Minecraft, but instead a watered down version of said game.
The Pocket Edition of Minecraft is like the little brother of the computer version. Sure the game is playable, but it’s still young and can’t exactly measure up to its older much more experienced brother. The pocket version only comes with 36 available building blocks, which includes: 26 actual blocks of various material, 2 different types of stairs, ladder blocks, torches, and 5 types of flowers/foliage. There is no crafting available, and the game lacks creepers. (The monsters found on the PC version.) As I also mentioned you can’t connect to online servers, but you are however able to play with friends over a Wi-Fi connection.
The game itself is playable but is nowhere near the same experience that you would find on the computer. Lacking a mouse and keyboard makes building complicated structures not only difficult but very tedious. You have controls on the bottom left hand corner to move forward, backwards, left and right. The jump button is found in the middle of your movement controls which makes navigating hills interesting. Looking around requires you to swipe your finger across the screen to view your desired location, and the placement of blocks is done by simply tapping the screen once. To destroy any misplaced blocks (Which happens ALOT) you just look at the block, tap the screen then hold your finger on the screen while your character destroys the block.
One of the first things I built when I started the game was a tiny house that would serve as my initial base while I built up supplies and resources. Of course this was when I assumed creepers would be prowling the grounds and that nighttime would be mere hours away. After laying out the base for my new home, I quickly realized how difficult it was going to be to put a roof over my head. After a few failed attempts I was able to build my roof, but I was not happy with the plain old flat style of it. This discouraged me quite a bit. If building a small structure like this was going to take this much effort, what would it take to build a castle or tower?
Another missing feature I noticed was the lack of caves and underground tunnels. During my exploration expeditions across the map I failed to find a single cave or tunnel. Even a few random digs failed to yield any results. It may be possible that I was unlucky, but I could not find anything. During my expedition I did learn that the map size was fairly small in comparison with the full version. I was literally able to venture from one edge of the map to the next in less than 60 seconds.
It’s hard to fault Mojang for the short comings that I mentioned here. As I said earlier the pocket edition of the game is more like the younger brother of the pc version. It still has a lot of kinks to work out, and I am sure many updates will be released in the near future. But for the time being and with the way the game is currently, I for one do not see myself spending any time playing it on my iPhone. The game fails to unlock my imagination, the controls make navigating and building frustrating, and the lack of creepers, crafting and many other parts of the game are missing. I don’t even see myself using the pocket edition as a means of wasting time at work, which I’m sure my boss will appreciate. In the games current state I have to give the game a 5/10 with the hope of someday bumping the score up higher after Mojang provides major updates.
Mojang just did too good of a job on the PC and were not able to translate that success to the iPhone.
Are you going to download this app? Have you played it? What are your thoughts?
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