If you haven't heard of the indie game sensation that is Minecraft yet, you surely live in a cave, yet are somehow viewing this review. This monster of a game has charmed ridiculous amounts of gamers with its massive randomly generated worlds and big box-of-LEGOs mentality. You can build just about anything you imagine, as long as whatever you imagine happens to be very blocky and pixilated. Now, Mojang has brought this monstrosity to the iPhone and iPad with Minecraft: Pocket Edition, but does it compare to the PC and Mac version?
What you are buying with this app is actually Minecraft’s build mode. Unfortunately, there are no enemies, you don't take damage, and there isn't even a day and night cycle. What you do get, however, is an unlimited supply of most of the games resourced to do with what you please. There are several items missing, and you can't actually craft anything, let alone a proper mine, because there is no crafting feature yet. Nevertheless, exploring a massive world and building random structures is always fun too.
The game's weird D-pad-with-a-jump-button-in-the-middle controls take a while to get used to, but they work well enough. Nothing will compare to the accuracy of a keyboard and mouse, of course. It's a bit challenging to build things precisely due to the odd controls, and you'll likely fall of your structures and mess things up often, but it gets better with practice. While you currently only have access to build mode, I'm sure that the newer editions will be released in updates. I don't really understand why the iPhone version has to be so far behind, but you can choose to invest in the game now, or wait for updates to bring about the creeper killing and roller-coaster building that we all know and love. After all, you can actually play build mode on your PC for free, but this app lets you build things on the go, which is always nice.
The simple blocky graphics and minimalist sound design are all here and they're charming as ever. This release may be very bare-bones, but I have a feeling many gamers probably won't care. I personally don't see the point unless I have to deal with things like skeletons, spiders, lava, and resource gathering. It adds an air of danger to exploring which is what makes the game thrilling for me. The app is iOS universal, and it can be yours for seven dollars. If you want access to build-mode on the go, or you have faith that Notch will update the game quickly, this app is for you. Otherwise I would wait for updates.