Minecraft Vita Edition Review – Blocky But Good (Vita)
The day has finally come! After months and months of waiting, Minecraft is officially available for the PlayStation Vita! Now you can mine, craft, explore and battle skeletons, zombies and creepers anywhere you go. But was it worth the wait?
If for some reason you have never played, seen or heard about Minecraft, it’s essentially a sandbox game. Minecraft started on the PC during its public alpha phase with something like what is now the “Creative” mode where you’re able to mine blocks, cut down trees, etc. and use the blocks you gather to build stuff. Over the years various other modes have been added to give players even more freedom to play the game the way they want to play it. In its console iterations, Minecraft consists of the Creative and Survival modes. The Creative mode gives you unlimited resources for building whatever creation you want to make regardless of the resources needed. Want to make a castle made from diamond blocks? Go for it! Want to build a functional computer with redstone circuitry? Go for it! If you’re less interested in building, but more interested in exploring and fighting monsters in a blocky quasi-RPG, the Survival mode is the place to be. You start out in a completely randomly generated world with little resources and little time to figure out how to build a shelter for when the monsters come to get you. From punching trees to getting wood to make your first set of tools, to jumping to other dimensions to face the ultimate challenge, there is a world of adventure to be had.
Minecraft is a great game. This has already been discussed for years now. The original PC version received nearly universal praise. Microsoft even just recently purchased Mojang — the company setup by original developer Markus “Notch” Persson for $2.5 billion! Obviously there is something special in the game itself for Microsoft to write a check that big. The real question here is how well the Minecraft experience translates to Sony’s handheld.
4J Studios, the developer that has handled all of the console ports of Minecraft, has done a wonderful job replicating the Minecraft experience for consoles. Our own D’yani Wood gave the PS4 version a great review. All of the console and mobile versions sell extremely well, tending to appear consistently in the upper echelon of each respective platform’s sales charts. While that is not always a guarantee of quality, it is definitely a good indicator.
This brings us to what’s probably the most important question. Sure, those other Minecraft ports are great but what about Minecraft: Vita Edition? I’m glad you asked! That saves me so much time in coming up with a good segue!
Minecraft: Vita Edition has indeed been well worth the wait. With Microsoft purchasing Mojang at the midnight hour of the Vita Edition’s launch, and rampant speculation at its future, your relief on whether the Vita version will see the light of day is understandable. Minecraft: Vita Edition gives us everything the PS3 Edition had to offer, plus some Vita-specific niceties like the ability to tap a particular item in your hotbar to select it immediately rather than having to cycle through them. Even more kudos to 4J for not trying to cram platform specific features down our throats like forcing you to use the rear touchscreen in place of L2/R2. If you choose to scroll through your hotbar rather than use the front touch screen, you can scroll through it using the left and right directional buttons. I tried to compare view distance between the PS3 and Vita versions, but it seemed pretty close. It’s nowhere near what you get with the PS4 version, but that’s to be expected. The block placement delay some early builds had is — thankfully — not noticeable. I literally could find nothing technical to gripe about, aside from world transfer speed, which is amazing. As for the frame-rate, you’ll be glad to hear that I didn’t notice any considerable drops during my playthrough.
For Minecraft: PS3 Edition owners like myself, the Vita Edition allows you to upload your PS3 worlds to the cloud and import them into the Vita Edition. Unlike the PS4 Edition, worlds are transferable back and forth between PS3 Edition and Vita Edition. While the transfer process is not exactly speedy, it’s nice to have the feature. You can’t really fault 4J there, I think, as someone who spent way too much time with the PC version, including some modding, I know how CPU and I/O intensive that process is; and the fact that the Vita can handle that is a testament to both 4J and the little handheld that could.
There is not much more that can be said that hasn’t already been said about Minecraft. It’s amazing. If you haven’t already, go pick it up and get to playing. Minecraft: Vita Edition is yet another fantastic port of Minecraft, and yet another top-notch game you can add to the Vita’s library.
Minecraft PS4 Edition review copy provided by publisher. For more information on scoring, read our Review Policy here.