Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition
We live in an age where creativity is no longer bound by the Powers That Be. Aspiring artists, writers and general creators no longer have to beg and plead for the raw materials to bring their imaginations to life, instead able now to go to sources such as crowd-sourcing or use ever-developing software to develop their ambitions.
In video games, the rise of the Independants is more evident. From Kickstarter campaigns for Double Fine Adventure and Carmageddon: Reincarnation, to titles such as Limbo by small-scale developers mean that bringing your game to the masses is as easy as a drag-and-drop website. In fact, there is no greater example of this than the latest release on Xbox Live Arcade, Minecraft.
Minecraft started life as a simple sandbox builder made by Marcus “Notch” Persson. Notch released it onto the internet to rave reviews, with players eager to download the Alpha, Beta and more official versions as and when they were released. Eventually Notch formed his company Mojang, and the cult of Minecraft escalated from there.
So naturally, it would come to the big dogs such as Xbox. Arriving as Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition, it maintains the basic ideology of Minecraft. You mine, you chop, you build and smelt and craft to add to the world around you. The trial gives you the usual tutorial to guide you through the basics, before leaving you to the world around you and the ever encroaching arrival of night, which brings the terrors that you’d expect. With the usual retro visuals, with all the bright colours and blocky textures that Minecraft has became known for, as well as a twee soundtrack, it’s a lovely little experience that sucks you in… at first.
The problem with a trial game is that you are only given a taster, a brief morsel of a larger game that is available. As most Minecraft veterans will tell you, the world that makes it is huge (to the scale that on a recent diagram it was described as larger than the surface of the Earth itself…) and that there is so much to build and create and you are only limited to your imagination. This is great, but while playing the trial, while very much enjoying it, I found myself more leaning towards chasing animals and hitting them with blocks of wood than creating a house to live in. When the enemies came in the night, I didn’t avoid them and concentrate on my own survival, I ran after them and blew up my house for the good of it. After that, I decided to see if I could build a tunnel in the ground. Which I did.
But I struggled to find “the point” as it were. I will concede now that I am not saying Minecraft is a bad game. It isn’t. It’s a fantastically put together world builder, a favoured genre of mine, which has so much scope and potential it’s maddening. But with that scope, as with any sandbox game, there is the problem with having too many options. Think of the person who has thousands of pounds but can’t decide on what to buy. The illusion of choice has corrupted their mind. With the Minecraft world, you have it all to play for, but don’t know where to start, and without that ultimate goal you, or rather I, found myself drifting away.
That aside though, looking back at the paragraph above that one, where I spoke of my adventures, I see that “the point” of Minecraft is that freedom to do whatever you want. In fact, I want to continue my tunnel odyssey and see if I can go under a lake and cause a massive flood. In fact just typing that makes me realize the “fun” factor of Minecraft. The ability to do whatever it is you want to do.
At the end of the day, Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition is a good game and an excellent port of the game which took the internet by storm. However, depending on your gaming mindset, and whether you have 1600 points to spare, you may find yourself shrugging it away. At the end of the day it all depends on you…