Porting a title is no easy task... especially if it’s coming from PC. There are certain variables that often don’t work on consoles as they do on its computer counterpart. 4J Studios, Mojang and Notch had their hands full when they positioned the idea of moving Minecraft to the Xbox 360. While a few features didn’t make the cross over, Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition is a near flawless transition.
+ The essence of Minecraft wasn't lost in transition
+ An innovative crafting experience is introduced
+ Split screen co-operative play
- Movement can be a bit iffy at times
- Inventory cursor lacks the accuracy of a mouse
Oh Minecraft... how I resented playing you for the longest time, for fear that I would be absorbed into your blocky world. Coming into the Xbox edition I was slightly worried as to how 4J Studios and Mojang would tackle some of the challenges Minecraft brings with it. For example, gaming with a mouse and keyboard often brings its share of bonuses. Minecraft is also very user friendly as it allows gamers to enhance their play with the addition of mods. A personalized touch can go a long way.
Without solid controls a game will fall apart. If Mario failed to jump over every Goomba and Koopa that came his way, Nintendo never would have become a power house in the 16-bit war. If you don’t know what the 16-bit war is... your parents failed you. As I mentioned above, PC gaming does come with its perks. Quick keys make for fast transitions between tools in dire situations. If a Creeper is creeping and you need to get your sword out ASAP, all it takes is pressing a single key. So, how well did this transition to a controller? A lot better than I was anticipating.
The controls are rather basic. Your triggers destroy and rebuild blocks, while you can shuffle through your quick slots with the bumpers. Where I did find an issue was in movement. While nothing was jittery, it just didn’t feel as smooth as using a mouse. It’s ultimately nothing that ruins the game, but it can be rather annoying when a zombie is after you.
Of course Minecraft is all about building... using materials gathered throughout the world to craft tools, structures and Nether portals. This is the most important aspect of the game, without this it simply wouldn’t be Minecraft. In this regard, 4J integrated a function not available on the PC version... a crafting guide of sorts. It works like this: by pressing X, you enter the crafting menu. For this example, let’s say we’re trying to create an iron pickaxe on the crafting table. Rather than having to place the requirements in 3x3 grid, you would simply navigate to the Tools and Weapons tab. As long as you have the correct number of materials in your direct inventory, it’s just a matter of pressing A to craft your mighty axe of picking. While I can picture some fan boys cry and complain, the process of moving each individual material to each box would be long and difficult.
That brings me to my biggest qualm with Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition. When it came to moving things around in my inventory it was just frustrating. While a quick move does exist, it was the only time I truly missed using a mouse. The issue is the lack of precision the joystick offers. I found myself fighting with the cursor just too simply put a pork chop in the oven.
It’s worth noting that this Minecraft world doesn’t go on forever. On PC you could simply pick a direction and walk without end. Here however, you’re bound by distance. This is just simply one of those things that can’t happen on a console. Again it’s nothing that destroys the experience. The title offers a full multiplayer experience. Not only can people on your friends list join you, but an option exists for split screen co-op.
Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition is a great way to close out Arcade Next. In a near perfect transition, 4J Mojang was able to capture everything that is Minecraft. Although there certainly are a few imperfections, 4J was able to do something most developers tend to stay away from. While I don’t foresee PC gamers putting down a mouse and picking up a controller... Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition will certainly bring a new fan base and ultimately enhance the title in the future.