Minecraft: Nintendo Switch Edition
Please note – this is going to be an unconventional look at this game, not a straight review.
It was 2009. I’d been an independent game developer for six years and was active in a number of communities. One of those was a site called TIGSource, a hybrid indie game news site and discussion board. I found a lot of my favourite independent games there.
One of those was Minecraft, a plucky little game inspired by Infiniminer featuring a randomly generated world made up of 1 metre-wide cubes that you could add to and remove from. It’s an aesthetic I was fond of, having attempted to make a world of cubes (called Cubeworld) in the year prior. But playing the early demo of Minecraft, it was clear even early on that there was more to the idea of it than met the eye.
At the time, it contained no goal, no enemies, no actual crafting, no resources. And yet the offer of a place with which to build anything was already completely captivating. I can’t imagine how many hours I sank just into the earlier versions of the game, constructing all manner of weirdness (that Pac-man arena had a hidden virtual nightclub underneath as well). The addition of multiplayer meant that, for a fair chunk of 2010, all me and my friends at the time did was work on a world together as we nattered away over Skype. And as the game developed, so did what we, and I in my own personal world, could do with it. I imagine by the end of 2011 I’d probably spent a thousand hours playing the game.
It was about then that Minecraft started exploding. In a world where indie games were known predominantly to other indie developers, the mainstream took notice. Millions of people bought it, and online servers to play in became widespread. I’d started to feel a little bored of the game and didn’t put significant time into it any more, but I would still frequently hop into the servers hosted by friends, communities I was a part of and websites I visited, and threw another hour or two now and then into looking around their worlds and seeing their creations.
Even though my interest in playing petered out, for the years following I still kept a vested interest in the game through YouTube videos. Earlier on I’d watch people like X (whose X’s Adventures in Minecraft was the first “Let’s Play” I ever watched of a game), Yogscast and CaptainSparklez forge stories in the game. Later on I got more into technical achievements and competitive play, with Sethbling’s absurd feats like a working Atari 2600 emulator being a good example of the former, and the various Mindcrack Ultra-Hardcore tournaments, which were essentially Minecraft equivalents of Battle Royale/The Hunger Games, for the latter.
I figured I was about finished with playing Minecraft right up until it came out on Nintendo Switch. 200 hours later, maybe I’m finished again…
But seriously, the game is incredible. It’s still incredible. And the fact I can play it on the go (and more importantly in bed) gave the game a new lease of life for me. Infact, in my opinion I believe my Switch world is better than any world I played on the PC versions of the game. Its main attraction is a major “city” area comprising a quincunx of 200 metre-high towers in a plus formation, interconnected by massive bridges. Below them, a formation of pools with serene wooden bridges crossing them. There are manually cultivated trees and plants around the place, an artificial waterfall on one side, several houses of varying shapes and sizes.
Entering the central tower, which contains a massive spiral staircase, you can travel upwards to find the start of an airborne city. Travel down it to find a massive lit-up underbelly formed out of three connected ravines. None of this is close to being done yet, but the fact I can fire the game up anywhere and any time I want and keep adding to it is stupendous.
I don’t play on online servers any more, as the fanbase for the game is a lot younger nowadays. Frankly, I’m jealous of the little bastards. Minecraft was everything I dreamed of as a youngling, as I was forced to express video game creativity solely through the extremely limited Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 create-a-park mode. Even then, I managed to convince myself that what I built were massive metropoles I could explore to my heart’s content. If I’d had Minecraft, I’d have been in bliss.
Minecraft is one of the best games of all time in my eyes. And the Switch version only reinforces that opinion.