Minecraft is a phenomenon that had passed me by. Mojang’s sandbox world sounded interesting, but I was never sure what to make of it. However, when Microsoft announced plans to bring Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition to the Xbox Live Arcade, I decided to finally give it a shot. But it wasn’t I who wrote the following review. It’s actually a journal that belongs to an unnamed adventurer who just so happens to look just like me.
Platforms: Xbox 360
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Developer: 4J Studios, Mojang
Genre: Survival Simulation
Release Date: May 9, 2012
ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+
Before My Adventure: The night before I set out in search of the fabled land of “Warp Zoned” I had the strangest dream. I entered a “tutorial” and ended up standing in a field of cubes that melded together to form a forested area. As I walked, these strange boxes appeared in my field of vision, telling me I could “mine” anything in this place. After collecting enough wood or dirt or string, I could “craft” these items together into new and better things.
Controlling the process of mining and crafting with the controller I held in my hand was very simple. All of the context-sensitive actions of the buttons were labeled for quick reference, and while these crafting and inventory management options seemed complex at first, everything was explained through a series of messages I could access at any time.
Moving through the world of this dream was also accomplished by manipulating the controller, which felt smooth and intuitive. There was even a soothing soundtrack that added to the dreamlike quality of my… dream.
Wandering further into the world, I found a small village and a towering castle, which gave me even more opportunities to craft. But adventure waits for no man….
Day 1: I awoke on a beach that was teeming with sheep. Just like my dream, the entire world was built using these marvelous pixelated cubes. I walked west towards a hilly area and found several trees. I gathered the branches and found a cave at the foot of the hill. I got to work and crafted a small wooden sword and several wooden planks. That first night I barricaded myself in the cave. Clutching the sword in the dark, I listened to giant spiders scurry around the cave entrance all night.
Day 2: At first light, I removed the planks and stepped out of the cave. I was greeted by a Creeper and a Skeleton. I ran from a barrage of arrows until the Skeleton burst into flames due to the morning sun. The Creeper charged me and exploded when he got too near.
Escaping danger (or so I thought), I went about gathering leather. I admit, there were times when I didn’t want to attack these animals. Their small cries and square faces made me feel sorry for them. But I had to mine them in order to survive.
When I felt I had enough leather, I realized that I was lost. Panicking, I slipped down a massive sinkhole and nearly died. Nursing my wounds, I spent the night at the bottom of the hole staring up at the stars. A spider approached the edge of the hole towards morning. He had the good sense not to jump in after me.
Day 3: I escaped from the hole only to be pounced on by the hiding spider. He made short work of me, but I came to back on the beach. Sadly, my sword and map are still in that hole. I may never find them.
A torrential rainfall blanketed the world during my search for what I now considered “my” cave. I once again got lost and had to make due with even worse accommodations than the previous two nights: a small cutout in the hills that I walled in with wooden planks to keep the zombies out. The same spider from last night returned and hissed at me in my makeshift “room” all night. I got my revenge though. In the morning, I pulled back one of the planks and beat him to death with a porkchop.
Day 4: I may never find “my” cave again. So I returned to the beach and have decided to set up house there. I dug into the hillside and have begun gathering materials. Building a bed before dusk, I even managed to get a good night’s sleep for the first time.
Day 7 or 8: I’ve lost track of how long I’ve been here. I’m constantly in danger. But I’m constantly having the time of my life.
Day 11… I think: I have finally obtained enough leather to craft a tunic. I look pretty dapper if I do say so myself.
Day 12: I began construction on a giant tower outside my cave so I will always be able to find my way home.
Day 15: I have completed the tower and I spent the night safely atop the world. Watching the chaos below was fascinating and those creatures kept going even after the sun was in the sky. Only after it reached the full height of its climb did those green demons retreat back underground.
Day 17: I explored further than I ever explored before, finding a huge sheet of ice near a chain of islands. The Creepers don’t seem to like the cold as I was able to stand out in the open on the glacier all night and I was neither accosted nor attacked.
Day 18: I have found the very edge of the world. But I am also hopelessly lost. I wish I had been able to hang on to the map. It’s a pity that I wasn’t able to carry an infinite supply.
Day 20: I’ve had enough of the adventuring game. Today, I’m going to build a front door for my cave and a skylight.
Day 23: Cutting into a rock wall, I found materials to build a furnace. But every time I went to use it, the world would freeze in place. I prayed to the gods of Tech Support and a voice told me, “Save before using your furnace and you will be saved.” I did as the gods instructed and I was finally able to use my furnace.
Day 24: With my furnace fully operational, I ate my first cooked pork chop. I could instantly feel my strength returning, which prepared me for my next adventure… a trip to the center of the earth!
Day 30: I’m not entirely sure how long I’ve been down in this hole. I think that digging a little at a time and releasing the stray zombie (how did they get way down here?) has taken me almost a week. But the center is near, I can feel it.
Day 31: I’ve traveled to the center of the world. Along the way I found Redstone, iron ore, and diamonds. And as I write this I’m standing on the precipice of a massive river of lava. With the materials I’ve found in the earth’s crust, I have created an entire arsenal of weapons, including an iron sword and a gleaming diamond pickaxe. But as I admire my new weapons, I realize my adventure has only just begun.
Afterword: This land is an exciting place. The cuboid shapes create a pixelated landscape that I could only dream of as a boy in the 1980s. It’s stunning. And struggling to survive and build something for myself has made me think of adventuring as something other than a game. There’s more to life than machine guns and ninjas and endless war. Instead, you can build anything!
Even though that first night almost killed me, this trip has been well worth the $20 admission fee. I think I could stay here forever.
Review Disclosure: A retail copy of Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition was obtained by Warp Zoned for the purposes of this review.