Minecraft Pocket Edition hits iOS (Android version already out)

Minecraft is a game that will go down in gaming history as being revolutionary in a way no one expected. It was initially created by a single person as a quick alpha and has since grown due to becoming extremely popular. The entire game revolves around a world that is “editable” by the users, and not by means of an external editor. The entire game has very low quality, “retro” graphics that are based on blocks. Blocks or water, blocks of wood, blocks of stone – like Lego, really, with only square blocks. You can remove or add these blocks and in doing so create your own world one block at a time. There are some seriously crazy creations out there, from people who have created their own “amusement parks” with working rides to people who have recreated the 650 meter long USS Enterprise D starship from Star trek: The Next Generation in scale 1:1.

Minecraft Pocket Edition is the game’s first foray onto mobile platforms. The game has been out for a while on Android (initally the Xperia Play only) and finally made it to iOS as well today (/last night). This edition is the builder mode of the game (i.e. no need to collect materials, fight enemies etc – just build build build) and has 36 basic blocks for you to build with. Unlike the more advanced PC version the blocks mostly aren’t interactive (except the torches that do emit light) and there’s no such thing as flowing water or anything like that. Still, it lets you run around and build stuff to your heart’s content.

I was skeptical to this game as I haven’t played Minecraft myself before, but I quickly got hooked like everyone else. Despite the graphics looking truly horrible from what we’re used to, the whole idea that it gives you the tools to create your own world plays on our creativity and that’s why it’s so successful. In a way, Minecraft is Microsoft Paint in a 3D landscape you can move about in, and that’s not a small feat.

When I started playing the game on my iPad last night I moved about a bit before I started digging straight down to see how far I could get. Before I knew what had happened it was several hours later and my hole was a subterranean NBT shrine with several layers of hidden entrances and tunnel systems to get around. It’s a casual game in a whole other sense than other casual games because it almost isn’t a game; there’s nothing that’s trying to kill you, no missions for you to complete, no score, nothing like that. It’s the modern world equivalent of doodling on a piece of paper.

That is also what makes this work on mobile platforms. The controls are simple; use the arrow keys to move/jump, slide around to move the camera, click to throw out blocks and hold to dig them away. It’s the kind of game that is perfect for relaxing on the couch with, and that’s what works well on tablets.

The video above shows the “creation” I ended up with after a couple of hours worth of testing out the game. It’s fun, and if you build a little bit every day you can create some fairly awesome creations with this “game”.

The game is $7 both in iTunes and the Android Market. I think they would sell more if the price was more “casual” but not too bad either way.

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Andreas Ødegård

Andreas Ødegård is more interested in aftermarket (and user created) software and hardware than chasing the latest gadgets. His day job as a teacher keeps him interested in education tech and takes up most of his time.

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