Android Game Review: Minecraft - Pocket Edition

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When Minecraft: Pocket Edition was announced as an exclusive for the Xperia Play, block-builders the world round collectively wept. How long would it be before we could all run from Creepers, beat up sheep for their wool, or build giant structures to worship your favorite Android mascot?

It might have felt like forever, but Minecraft: Pocket Edition is finally available for all Android devices, and it's actually pretty cool (despite how feature-limited it is).

If you've ever played Minecraft on a PC (or even if you haven't), Minecraft: Pocket Edition will look pretty familiar. Everything is nice a blocky and retro-inspired, and it runs quite well. In lieu of actual physical controls, there's an onscreen directional pad with a jump button in the middle of it.

To place blocks, tap somewhere close to you. In the same vein, holding a block close to you will bring up a circle, and when the circle is filled, the block will be destroyed. Currently, there's no tools to destroy things, so everything is destroyed with your bare hands (Chuck Norris-style).

There's also no harvesting of items that you've destroyed. Instead, you have an inifinite amount of supplies, but only the supplies that the game gives you. Tapping the three circles on your item bar brings up the list of blocks (and other assorted goodies), and then you can pick three from there. I'm a bit disappointed TNT isn't included by default, and once crafting is (re)introduced, that'll be the first thing I make.

The controls are fairly tight, although the lack of precision on placing blocks when trying to balance a tablet can become a little frustrating. The camera is no different than the non-pocket edition, and the blocky, first-person interface is still top-notch.

Also missing from this early alpha are day/night cycles, and with that, bad guys. I really wanted to run and blow myself up next to a Creeper (cause hey, that never gets old), but there's none of them to be found. Zombies are suspiciously absent as well, along with all of the farm animals you beat up for their delicious meats, eggs, and wool.

You can still play with friends as long as you're all on the same wireless network, but otherwise, you're flying solo. Minecraft: Pocket Edition also sidesteps the normal Minecraft servers entirely, so you can have any name you want (for now).

Overall, Minecraft: Pocket Edition is a bit underwhelming, especially when there's so much on the desktop version that's missing from the mobile experience. I know it's an early alpha, but for $6.99, I was personally expecting more. That being said, it's still kind of a technical marvel, having such an open sandbox running on mobile devices.

If you just can't live without your Minecraft when you're not at home, we've got download links after the break.

  • Well, this is Creative mode, like Mojang said it would be. Survival mode (The version you pay for on PC) is still being reworked for the phone version, so that will take time. This is kinda what should have been expected. It's very smooth and the controls work pretty well on the phone (the d-pad is too big for the tablet), so it's a very good first release.
  • It is a good first release, it's just not a lot for $7.
  • While I would love to have Minecraft on the go, there really is no point for me to get it on Android until it has the same features of the desktop version. I'd want to log on to my SMP server rather than have some separate world for the mobile version.
  • As with Minecraft for the PC, I'm paying $7 to get the game now, and all of the updates it will have in the future. Like with PC games or console games, I consider the price of the game as it launches, along with all the content it has to start, to be the early adopter's fee, and I find it fully justified, personally.
  • I hope the Survival mode develops at about the same rate (as in features that are released) as on PC. I really miss Minecraft Alpha for some reason. I know that adding things to the game should make it better, but somewhere along the line, between the moment it hit beta to now, that magic that made Minecraft, well, Minecraft was lost for me, so I'm hoping that the initial release of survival mode for mobile is a lot like Minecraft Alpha. If it is, I'm downloading the update and never downloading another one for it again.
  • Can we get the android central theme song for download? Its AWESOME!
  • This is the one time when it is OK to purchase something now without all the features you want knowing that they will be there later. Unlike most companies, I trust Notch for updates. Minecraft Side Note: take a bunch of the valuable blocks and make a stockpile somewhere in case after the survival and adventure updates hit, you may be able to utilize your original map and can harvest things like Obsidian and Diamonds easily (Yea it's kinda cheating but o well)
  • I don't get it. I tried out Minecraft (PC) after seeing some buzz and I simply don't understand why this game is popular. If it were 1993, I would understand. In 1993 it would have been groundbreaking. In 2011 it's... like playing a game from 1993.
  • Great review article :) See more mods at