At a Glance: As tempting as it may be to carry a little bit of Minecraft in your pocket, you’re better off avoiding this.
As a huge fan of the wildly popular PC title, Minecraft, I really wanted this to be good. When I paid my $7 for a mere 2.9MB download of Minecraft: Pocket Edition on the iTunes App Store, I was hoping the game I would be getting would be well worth my money. The PC version certainly has been, after all. But as soon as I started playing, I knew I’d made a huge mistake.
The Pocket Edition carries over that instantly recognizable and utterly simplistic (in a good way) art style and the ability to build pretty much any kind of structure you can imagine but…that’s about it. I can already hear complaints from people saying that being able to build anything you can dream up is an amazing feature, and it would be, if the game was better designed.
Most smartphones these days are inherently handicapped when it comes to gaming due to their complete reliance on their touchscreens as the only means of controlling games. Minecraft: PE seems like it could have worked around a touchscreen if the interface was remotely intuitive, but it isn’t. The screen is populated by a d-pad, a jump button and three slots for blocks. To place a block, you tap on the screen and to remove one, you hold down on the screen until it disappears. Simple. If only the rest of the interface was this simple to use.
Now, I need to talk about the d-pad design, which is just awful. Placing the jump button between the four individual directional buttons makes it extremely difficult to use with any sense of fluidity. To assist in moving about the environment, the game has an auto jump feature to help counteract this but it isn’t executed well enough to offset the poor placement of the jump button. As a result, navigating the environment is pretty difficult in some instances.
The three block quick access row along the bottom of the screen is similar to the “Creative Mode” seen in the PC original but only gives you access to a paltry 36 types of blocks which is far, far less than what you have access to in the PC version. But that’s not all that’s stripped away. There are no mobs (friendly or hostile), no day and night cycles and no crafting whatsoever.
When I got this, I knew I wouldn’t be getting the same experience the PC version offers, just on a smaller and more portable screen. I didn’t expect to get a game that was almost unrecognizable in terms of gameplay to the game I’ve enjoyed so much. Perhaps if the controls were better (would flight be too much to ask?), maybe if there were more blocks to choose from and maybe if the controls were better (it deserves to be said twice), I would be happier with this. But for $7, it’s just not worth it. Hell, even at $1, I would still be given pause.
On the title screen, it does mention that the game is still in Alpha stages (specifically 0.1.2) but I can’t give it a pass purely on that basis. This isn’t a free demo, this is a $7 game and that price is not justified in my eyes. I can only hope the game will continue to be improved on and updated, as the PC version was. As much as I want to like this, I just can’t. That signature Minecraft charm just isn’t there and without it, this game just doesn’t work.
- Umm…it looks nice, at least.
- Awful controls
- Nothing to do besides building
- Seriously, the controls are awful