Minecraft: Pocket Edition is a bitesized version of the real thing
What else is there to say about Minecraft at this point? The world-exploring, block-breaking, item-crafting title has sold nearly four million copies on PC to date, and is now invading every gaming device imaginable, from an upcoming Xbox 360 Kinect version to a (no doubt) App Store-destroying iOS version.
For now, however, Android users are the next group to receive this marvel of gaming workmanship, as Minecraft: Pocket Edition hits the Android Market as both a universal app, and a special Xperia Play version. While this handheld version still had a long way to go before it can live up to its big-screen buddy, there's still plenty of reasons to grab the Pocket Edition.
In case you've let the phenomenon past you by completely, allow us to briefly explain what it's all about - you are dropped into a lush, blocky world, and armed with a selection of blocks. These range from bricks to dirt to glass to plenty of other useful elements, and you can build anything you desire with the bits and pieces.
You can dig too, underground if you like, or possibly into a mountainside. The world is yours to explore, and with your pickaxe in hand, there's plenty to see, do and make.
The story continues for the PC version, with animals, enemies, crafting, underground secrets to find and more - however the Android version is still in the early stages of development, and as of yet, only contains the default sandbox style of play, where building is your best - and only - friend.
However, this is exactly how the PC version started life, and slowly but surely, all these exciting elements were added. The same is set to happen with this new version too - you pay one price, and then gradually over time, all the elements from the PC version will be added in.
From what we can tell, the Android version will have advantages over the PC version - but also many disadvantages. The pros, of course, revolve around the fact that you can take it anywhere with you. Online multiplayer also means you can sit with your friends and more easily play together than if you were on PC.
The opposite end of the spectrum, however, is the limitations of the system. The controls are perfectly reasonable for a touch-screen version of the game, but they still aren't great. There's nothing that can be done about this - it's simply the type of game that doesn't work well with a touchscreen.
One wonderful thing about the PC version is that you can walk for hours, days, months, and you'll never see the same scenery twice, as the randomly-generated worlds are simply gigantic. It will take you a matter of minutes to reach the edge of a Minecraft Android world due to memory limits, and hitting a wall really breaks the immersion.
The Android version of Minecraft can never be as good as the PC version, but given that it's cut-price compared to its big-screen brother, we can forgive it for its shortcomings. In a few months time this will no doubt be an essential purchase, but as it is at this moment in time, it's nice for a quick dabble every now and again.
- Huge potential for player creation. Tons of free content promised. Multiplayer is a blast.
- Light on content at the moment. Lots of limitations due to hardware.