Notch and Mojang finally release Minecraft onto Sony's Xperia Play.
Published on Aug 18, 2011
With most reviews you'd probably take one look at the score and make an assumption based on that, but with Minecraft Pocket Edition the most important number not one out of ten, but is, in fact, "0.1.0".
See – much like it's bigger brother on PC – Minecraft Pocket Edition boots with a version number, detailing at just what stage of development the current copy is running at. For Minecraft Pocket Edition, that version is 0.1.0 – early alpha, in other words.
For those not aware, Minecraft began life as something of a phenomenon. Initially a small indie title by an unknown developer, word of mouth and gathering interest across social networking boosted the simple title out of anonymity and into multi-million selling smash hit success.
Part of this success was due to Minecraft's alpha release which, for a discounted price, was available for sale to anyone willing to put up with its lack of features and the promise of more to come.
At that stage there was barely a game, with most of its players toying around with what was known as 'Indev' mode: or create mode, to you and me. In this mode players had unlimited access to the game's array of materials and blocks and therefore free to construct whatever they wished.
It appears Minecraft Pocket Edition is following a similar pattern, too. For a small fee, Xperia Play owners can gain access to a similar 'Indev' mode to the one that was only available to Minecraft early adopters.
There is no mining, there are no beasties and the day and night cycle is not present. You won't need to construct a home to survive against the Creepers or begin designing that complex railway system already planned in your head. In fact, there's very little you can do, and this is Minecraft Pocket Edition's biggest flaw.
It'll take some time to design something this grandiose.
Controls have been mapped successfully to the Xperia Play's controller based buttons with triggers destroying or planting blocks, while the D-pad enables movement across the randomly generated terrain. Even stepping over single blocks has been made automatic to better navigate terrain on the smaller buttons.
The only issue is the camera control, which is mapped to the Xperia Play's right trackpad. In most cases it handles just fine, but often this can become stuck or difficult to manage – a concern that would be more of a nuisance if monsters were likely to attack. This is probably an issue with the Xperia Play's construction, however, rather than the game itself.
Similarly, slowdown can become bothersome on higher ground where the tiny device needs to render further distances, though this can be negated by unchecking the 'Fancy Graphics' option in the main menu.
For players new to game, there are plenty of hours of creativity for you to explore. Perhaps you won't appreciate the rarity of a house constructed entirely of gold or the time and hard work that goes into foraging for obsidian, but as a place to express yourself with block-by-block creations while travelling on the bus or train there is no game quite like it on the Android Market.
Unfortunately, once that initial thrill has waned there's little else here – an issue that might well have turned off initial adopters of the PC version of Minecraft too. If you're interested in Minecraft Pocket Edition because of previous experience – or even if you're considering an Xperia Play just to get a mobile version of the game – then we'd strongly recommend you don't bother.
Minecraft Pocket Edition is just not the game the phenomenon has since turned in to. As we've already mentioned, it's only when Minecraft Pocket Edition lifts itself out of this early alpha stage and resembles something a bit more akin to the more fully-featured version will there really be anything worthwhile.
Creation is one of Minecraft's main features, but without searching for resources it feels unearned.
We'll be sure to re-evaluate Mojang's miniature version once later updates turn up, since the dream of having Minecraft worlds and creations wherever you go is something Minecrafters have desired for quite some time.
There's no doubting the quality here and by utilising so much out of such minimal tech makes Minecraft Pocket Edition one of the most impressive titles available for Android – but for now, it will have to remain an unfortunate disappointment.
7.2 / 10
6.4 / 10
5.1 / 10
7.6 / 10
TBA / 10
5.8 / 10
Minecraft fans will have to wait for future updates before they're appeased, but the potential is here for greatness.