Minecraft's arrival to the Nintendo Switch may seem like a non-event to many gamers. The building, creating and survival simulation game seems like it's on every device. There's the content-first PC version of the game, a handful of versions for Microsoft and Sony consoles, and even a mobile version.
So, color us surprised when we realized that not only is Minecraft: Nintendo Switch Edition a must-have for fans of the franchise, but a must-have for Nintendo Switch owners and those looking for the shining light of proof that the Switch is changing portable gaming. Seriously, Minecraft on the Nintendo Switch is something to behold.
The game has a simple premise, one that becomes more and more overwhelming as you explore the game's many options. You are dropped in a procedurally-generated world, tasked with exploring, building, crafting and surviving as day-and-night cycles toss enemies at you, drop you into mines and break your equipment.
Well yeah, we're sure you get Minecraft by now. Enter the Nintendo Switch version of the game, which feels like a marriage between the series' PlayStation Vita version and its console counterparts. The controls, for the most part, match the Vita game, with touch screen user interface controls that sadly can't be used to drag and drop your inventory items or for crafting. Fortunately, the Switch sports two sets of shoulder buttons and clickable sticks, making things like crouching and managing inventory that much simpler, something the Vita version lacked the ease of.
But here you'll find worlds almost the size of the game's console versions, coming in well above the Nintendo Wii U version of the game, but still a bit behind the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions. This isn't the mobile version of the game by any means, this is full-blown Minecraft running wonderfully and draining as little battery as possible on your Switch.
The Switch version of Minecraft makes playing the game with friends easier than its ever been. Local and friend games will show up in the game's menu, and you can hop in and hop out as you please, given that the server host is actively playing.
Locally, you won't find much lag at all, with the console supporting four-player splitscreen on one Switch, or two-player splitscreen while playing online with another Switch. Before, hanging out with friends to play a night of Minecraft meant lugging over your computers, but with the Switch, it's as simple as tossing the console into your backpack.
We can only imagine how this could change school lunches, public transit rides or just hanging out somewhere with friends. If Mario Kart 8 Deluxe kicked things off, Minecraft for the Switch could seal the deal as a game changer.
The Switch edition of Minecraft is absolutely stacked with content, bringing the main game, along with mini games, texture packs and the game's Super Mario content, included originally with the Nintendo Wii U version of the game.
This loaded texture pack strips the Minecraft world of its original flair and layers in tones from the Mushroom Kingdom, included Boomerang Flowers, "?" Blocks and Mario and co. as character skins. The game also sports a collection of texture packs previously released as downloadable content for other versions of the game, of course, excluding licensed skins like packs found on Microsoft or Sony's platforms.
While Minecraft in itself could be send as an endless game of sorts, this bonus content only serves to make the purchase price that much easier to swallow, especially since its opponents in the multiplayer space include the full-priced Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Super Bomberman R.
Overall, Minecraft: Nintendo Switch Edition is the perfect early title to join the Switch's lineup of games. Bookended by major first party Nintendo releases, this is the type of game you'll want to play with your other Switch owning friends, losing hours at a time to the endless mining, building and exploring in the world of Minecraft.
The performance of this game also bodes well for future, smaller indie titles on the system, and saying we're excited for games like Stardew Valley to join the lineup would be one hell of an understatement.
Score: Four and a half out of five stars.