APP OF THE DAY: Minecraft Pocket Edition review (Android)
Ah Minecraft, that never ending source of enjoyment that provides endless hours of time wasting and darkened-room digging. The cult software that is yet to even leave Beta form on PCs has risen to fame quicker than David Bowie and is now set for release on Android as an Xperia Play exclusive.
This does mean irritatingly that other Android and iPhone users cannot yet benefit from the enjoyment of the app. Xperia Play owners however can rejoice knowing that this is the application that will finally do their handset and controller combo justice.
Minecraft Pocket Edition (Android)
Mojang doesn't mess about when it comes to application design, clearly putting as much thought into its desktop app as it has the newly released Pocket Edition for mobiles.
Don't mistake Pocket Edition however for a miniature version of the desktop client, the two are in fact very different. Whilst the actual brick and building element remain intact, there is a lot less crafting to be done on the mobile.
You can't actually make objects, instead you use the Xperia Play's buttons to cycle through a selection of 36 different blocks. All the favourites are there including things like bamboo, flowers, funghi, ladders and torches. At first this makes things feel slightly restrictive but after a while it actually forces you to get back to the games roots and just create.
You control the game using a combination of the Xperia Play's right analogue pad and the d-pad for directions. This can make looking, digging and moving slightly cumbersome at first, but it doesn't take long to get used to it.
The actual menu system is incredibly simple, you boot up a world and then immediately start building. Hitting triangle will bring up a list of blocks used and then you either scroll or tap on them to get digging. Left sholder acts like bash and right places objects. It is very easy to use and never gets in the way of gameplay.
The real charm of Minecraft Pocket Edition is the way that you can jump in and out of the game. You can just close up the Xperia Play when you are done and it will switch back to a phone, then open it up and boot minecraft and get building straight away again. This means you can pick at a creation, close the phone and then come back to it later. It is particularly satisfying to snap the handset open and continue building some monstrous mine immediately while sitting on the bus home.
Initially we were sceptical that Minecraft would translate well to the mobile, but it clearly does. Whats better however is that Mojang has promised continued support of the application. This should bring with it the kind of major updates we regularly see to the desktop client and hopefully eventually transform the mobile app into a proper crafting experience. For £4.26 however you won't find anything as much fun or different as Minecraft Pocket Edition on the Xperia Play.
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