Pleasantly surprised by Minecraft

Last week I wrote about the upcoming release in Japan of Dragon Quest Builders, an RPG game that has Minecraft elements. It sparked my interest in Minecraft for the Vita, especially when one of my readers mentioned that I should really give it a try. I was able to buy it at a reduced price so I took the chance, thinking there wasn’t much to lose. And even though I was very sceptic, I can say I was pleasantly surprised (thanks for the tip, Allen!). The game is much more fun than I expected, and the creative side of this game has great potential. There are different modes to play in, depending on if you want to be challenged to survive in the wild with aggressive enemies and only the resources you can mine yourself, or if you want to create something without worrying about the materials needed. I guess that’s what makes the game so compelling, there’s something for everyone, both young and old or boy and girl.

I guess most of you know the game, that’s been available for some time on the PC, and various other devices and platforms. The only ones that are absent are Nintendo consoles, by the way. Images of the block-build world have been a familiar sight for some time now. But if you, like me, hardly know anything about the game, here’s a little introduction.

Minecraft, Vita, MC, Skins, biomesThe world of Minecraft consists of 3D blocks, and everything from stone to leaf and water, is represented by blocks. You can mine those blocks, using them to build something for yourself, or use them to craft something else. Gravity is weird in this world: cut out a part of a tree trunk and the rest of the tree stays up, hanging in the air without support. When you start a new game, you’ll get a randomly generated world, that is divided in biomes ranging from deserts to jungle to snowfields. The game has a night and day pattern, which in real time lasts 20 minutes. There are animals in the world, sheep, pigs and cows, horses and wolves, all kinds. Some give you produce, others can be tamed like horses. Some you will have to slay to get materials: for instance, to make a bed you need three sheep wools and three wood.

Minecraft, Farming, taming animals, Crafting in the game is really neat. You will first make a crafting table to be able to access bigger projects, and after that a forge. The forge comes in handy to make coal (which you need in turn to make torches for light) and you can also make for instance glass by heating sand. The possibilities seem endless! Depending on which mode you’re playing in you need to get going immediately after starting the game, to build yourself a crude shelter. Because the shelter keeps you safe at night, when your enemies come out. Large spiders, skeletons, zombies or a Creeper, all kind of being that have no other goal but to kill you. Make sure they can’t come in your shelter, and make sure it’s well lit by torches, because these hostile mobs spawn at nighttime in dark places, and they can’t when your shelter is well lit. Once you’ve got your weapons and armor made you’ll be able to take them on, but not at first. Should you get killed you return to the point where you entered the game and you lose your inventory!

After being killed on my first night a couple of times ( I just couldn’t make a little shelter quickly enough) I decided to set my game, made in survival mode, to “peaceful” settings. That way I still have to gather my own materials, and start from scratch, but there are no hostile mobs in my game. Some may consider that cheating, but the game offers it, and I got very, very nervous from those creepy creatures. Aside from various difficulty settings in survival mode, you can also start your game in creative mode. That way your own imagination is the limit, because you get all materials at your disposal, and again, no enemies.

Minecraft, infinite world, mining, spawn, sheepI’m having fun with the game: I like crafting and trying out recipes, I like building and gathering of materials. I don’t particularly like how your view is a first person view, and although they’ve added the possibility to play while seeing your character mine her heart out, that feels a bit clunky. What I find difficult in the game is that I want to explore, but I keep losing my way. I’ve been away from my shelter for two days now but I can’t find my way back, even though I did l leave some torches in my wake as breadcrumbs. A good thing that I’m playing on Peaceful setting: otherwise I’d have been eaten by spiders long ago!


  1. I actually got a little nostalgic reading this. It’s been so long since I’ve played Minecraft, and I hear they added tons of new stuff from when I left off. I think I’ll have to give it another go soon.

  2. It’s an addictive little time-waster, that’s for sure! There are nearly no limits to what a creative mind can accomplish in Minecraft. Will you be trying and reporting about Dragon Quest Builders when it releases? I’m not sure if I’m interested enough to play it, but I’m eager to learn more about it.

    1. What system is Terraria on? The first persoon view is indeed difficult to get used to. They have incorporated third person view too now, but that’s even more awkward!

      1. Terraria is available on many systems, including PS Vita, which has a demo for players to try out. I recommend you do that, since I tried it having the same thought that I would like it better than minecraft since it’s not on first person views, and was so disappointed. I found the controls for building things the way I wanted cumbersome and annoying. Maybe the PC version is better on that regard, but it really doesn’t seem like the type of game I would like playing at home, it seems better as a pick and play hand-held. But do try it, maybe you’ll think differently.

        1. Thanks for the tip that it’s a demo, I will give it a try. Somehow these games have a difficult time getting the clunky-ness out! I know most people weren’t impressed with Harvest Moon The Lost Valley. I understand how they find the farming in the game not up to par with the normal HM titles. But the building and landscaping were very nice, in the Minecraft style. Just no crafting.

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