If you’ve played Minecraft before, this isn’t quite the game you’re used to. As it stands, Minecraft: Pocket Edition is a stripped-down version that removes what many existing fans of the game will say are the best bits. Don’t pay too much attention to the complaints, though, because there’s still a lot of fun to be had with what remains.
So what’s missing? There are no Creepers that come out after dark to kill you. There are no mobs (animals and other creatures – hostile or otherwise). And there’s no crafting, the strange art of combining materials together to make new ones, then combining those together to make tools and items that you can put to use in your randomly generated world. Those things aren’t here.
What’s left, if there’s no crafting?
There’s the basic building block of Minecraft: basic building blocks. The only limit is your imagination, so dive in and start building stuff.
The controls are simple and make sense on a touch screen. There’s a virtual D-pad in the bottom left corner (switchable to right corner in the settings) which controls character movement. Swipes control your view. Tap to build, tap-and-hold to bash or dig.
One thing that hasn’t been left out is a built-in server to share your Minecraft world over wifi. Building with friends is so much more fun.
Be warned: there may not be any Creepers here, but there are bugs. Even after a post-install restart of my iPad, I was getting crashes right from the word go. Or should I say, the word “Create world”, which caused quite a few of them. There were also occasional crashes when messing around with the settings. Sometimes, the Options button simply didn’t work at all.
It’s easy to compare Minecraft Pocket Edition with its desktop counterpart, but I think we’re all better off thinking of it as a new, separate project. Minecraft itself, rather like the items its players create, has been crafted over time into its current form. But it had simpler, humbler beginnings.
This Pocket Edition is going to follow a similar path. Notch has said as much on his blog. What we’re seeing now is an echo of that original alpha from 2009. Give it a little while, and the bugs will be ironed out and the missing features slowly added. Over four million people have already bought the desktop game, but this release is about pulling in four million more. One step at a time.
Bugs aside, Pocket Edition remains extremely playable. At ten dollars, it’s slightly on the pricey side in comparison to many iOS games, but in real terms that’s peanuts by anyone’s standards. Buy it. You won’t regret it.