It’s Still Indie!
After a long, long wait, and after it released on almost every other console, Minecraft has finally hit the Playstation Vita. And to much excitement too, after all, it’s the full-fat Minecraft experience. Pocket Edition was fun, but it served merely as an appetiser for the Minecraft we all know and love. Sure, touchscreens are great for some games, but they just don’t offer that much-needed tactile feedback that only physical controls can give. The combination of portability and physical controls make Minecraft: Playstation Vita Edition a true must-have game for any Vita owner.
With countless Let’s Play’s, news articles , walk-throughs and over 54 million copies sold, we’re pretty confident you already know about Minecraft. No matter what console you play it on, it’s all about the blocks, baby! The PS Vita edition still has you playing as Steve, and you can still choose between creative and survival mode. You’ll still be able to create your own worlds, and be free to build whatever your imagination can dream of. But, this is full Minecraft on the go. There are a few drawbacks though, so let’s get them out of the way first.
When compared to the PC version, Minecraft on Vita is missing lots of features. So don’t go rushing in, expecting to tame a horse and ride off into the sunset; it isn’t going to happen – yet. Thankfully 4J Studios have an absolutely stellar history of updating all versions of the game, and the work on porting new features is ongoing. You should also not expect the same size and scale of worlds currently available on the PC and pocket versions; there’s no unlimited worlds here. Instead, you’ll be restricted to meagre 1000×1000 block maps. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, multiplayer is restricted to a maximum of four people, including yourself. Those are some serious drawbacks, but you’ll soon be too busy, mining to your heart’s content, to care.
Despite the drawbacks, Mojang’s miner is quite wonderous to behold on the Vita. On the model 1000’s OLED screen, things still look as good/bad as they ever have, but it’s how well everything controls that truly struck us. Both touchscreen and physical controls work in symbiosis, allowing you to quickly choose tools from your hotbar using the touchscreen, whilst moving with the analogue sticks. Although they are no competition to a mouse and keyboard, the sticks put in an admirable performance. The right stick feels sensitive enough for quick turns, while movement with the left feels similarly solid. A quick double tap of the left stick in an upward motion also enables you to sprint, but it feels a little finicky for our liking,
Menus are intuitive and most allow you to use either the touchscreen or controls to navigate. Although, curiously, you may not use the touchscreen to select items from your inventory. Speaking of which, the inventory screen is a little small, and it can be tricky to tell which items you are looking at. It would have been nice to see 4J implement a bespoke Vita solution, instead of shrinking the console menu down to the small screen – it doesn’t work so well. Thankfully the console version’s intuitive crafting system has also made the jump over, meaning you won’t have to painstakingly craft everything by hand at the crafting table. Instead, you’ll search through menus of items sorted by category and, provided you have the prerequisite materials, a quick click of the ‘x’ button will craft your item for you.
Sure, playing Minecraft on your lonesome has its own charm, but multiplayer is where it’s at, and where the Vita version truly shines. Whether it’s over the internet or locally via ad-hoc, you’ll be sure to have a blast playing with your friends. Hopping into each other’s world is a breeze via the in-game menu, and, on a good connection, everything feels buttery smooth. We have a particularly soft spot for playing locally via ad-hoc, and have shared some great moments with new players as they discover the blocky delights that the game has to offer. Sadly, our fun was somewhat interrupted by vanishing mobs and animals, which lead to some players being killed by mobs they couldn’t see. With the bugfixes already rolling out, it shouldn’t be long until 4J fixes this issue.
Where once we spent hour after hour on PC slaving away over a new construction, we now find ourselves digging out our Vita for a quick 10 minute creative session. And that’s the real ace up the Vita’s sleeve. Minecraft suddenly has this duality that no other platform offers half as well. Whenever the mood strikes us, or whenever we have that great idea, we can dig out our Vita and start building right away. And if we want to, we can still take part in marathon building sessions.
If ever there was a game that can reverse the ailing fortunes of the Vita in the West, it’s Minecraft. Sony should be quick to capitalise on that.