Unless you have been living under a rock, you know what Minecraft is, for better or for worse. Either it’s that game that you can just mindlessly play for hours, the game you can use like digital legs, or it’s that stupid section of F.Y.E. or Walmart where children obsess over the game they waste their lives with. For me, it’s the game that I sat up until 4:00 AM with my friend in college waiting for it to release on the Xbox 360. We then proceeded to be consumed by it for weeks. It has always been a nice stress reliever, however, unless you lose some features/comfortability with controls, we have always been tied down to a computer or console. This problems ends today.
Minecraft: Nintendo Switch Edition is just that; Minecraft, but made specifically for the Switch. Now you may say “Doug, it’s the same game and we have all played it, why should we care?” Great question, hypothetical person. It is the game we have been playing for years. Therefore, I can just overlook a lot of the main parts of a usual review to get to what makes this version unique. We know what the aesthetic is, we know what the music sounds like, we know the mechanics. However, Mojang has found what is possibly the best home for their lovable title. It allows you to build from the comfort of your couch with your TV, yet also allows you to work on your projects on the go. This adds together to what could be the most convenient model for Minecraft ever made.
The game runs at a smooth 60fps on the TV and still looks awesome in portable mode. The only problem that I ran into in regards to how it runs was that I got stuck in a tree, and while my screen was covered in leaves, I did notice a significant framerate drop. This was the only instance of a performance issue in my multiple hours of handheld play. Since the software is not overly intensive, less strain is put onto the life of handheld mode. I believe I got between 4 and 5 hours of straight play before I had to plug it in as well. Not great battery lifetime, but decent enough to enjoy building on the go.
Honestly, the weirdest part of playing it in handheld mode was getting readjusted to the controls. Where my hands are used to an Xbox controller, they mindlessly fumbled over buttons and joysticks due to the different feel of the controller. After a few minutes of play though, my hands remembered how to start building again. The game launches with version 1.11.2, so the version you will play is the same as the computer build. Since it has been a couple years since I have really played Minecraft, it is almost overwhelming how many things are different, but that is just due to my ignorance in the evolution of the game, rather than what all has changed.
As for the map size, the large map option has been removed from the Switch edition. However, you can still have up to the medium world size, which equals 9 maps or 3072 x 3072 blocks. No it isn’t as beefy as the other console versions, but 9 maps-worth of world content is a lot to explore by itself. Amplified worlds have also been removed. One noticeable shortfall of the Switch version is that the render distance is significantly decreased. Xbox One and PS4 editions rendered a draw distance of 18 chunks at 1080p. The Switch only does about 11 chunks at 720p when docked and an underwhelming 7 chunks when in handheld. With a game like Minecraft, it is hard to bicker about resolution when it comes to 1080p to 720p, but draw distance can be major for those who may build large structures.
The Switch edition does support up to 4 player, local co-op and 8 players online. This includes survival mode, creative mode, and mini-game mode. While I’ve had extensive time with the two previous modes in other versions, mini-game mode is new to me. There are two different games: Battle mode and Tumble.
In battle mode, imagine a mini, blocky hunger games. You are dropped into a map littered with chests. After an initial rush to get items, players can hide, hunt, or even collect items. Once the number of players is reduced to just two, both players can see each others’ names and must fight it out to reign supreme. While this mode is enjoyable, tumble is by far my favorite of the two.
With Tumble, you are given either a shovel or snowballs. Your goal is to knock the ground out from the other players by any means possible. You would think this would get dull pretty quickly, but I sat and played it for about 10-15 minutes straight and then went back for more later. You can try to sneak around other players, you can charge headfirst, or you can even try to funnel players to your position so you can easily take them down. It is extremely enjoyable and also satisfying when you claim victory.
One major eyebrow raising detail on this is the price. Minecraft: Nintendo Switch Edition is $30. For comparison the Xbox One version is only $20. The reasoning behind this price increase is that there are multiple themes and skin packs that are included with the base game. It is essentially the festive edition for the Xbox One, but Halo was switched out with Super Mario. Along with this, there is no in-game chat mechanics, which makes it difficult to communicate with random players that join into your session.
It doesn’t really need to be said, but no Minecraft: Nintendo Switch Edition does not support mods, making it lesser to its PC Master Race brother. With that being said, however, this version may be the version of the title that everyone has to have. Yes it takes some getting used to, but in the end it is so nice to be able to build and enjoy the adventure on the go. The minor issues that I have experienced are able to be fixed later, which I know is an awful thing to say, but considering this is a building game that is constantly updating, it’s justifiable in this situation.
Minecraft: Nintendo Switch Edition is out now! Check out the official listing for more information.