Hey, it’s-a Minecraft!
Mario meets Mojang’s blocky, uh, blockbuster as Minecraft finally makes its way to the Wii U. Given its family-friendly gameplay and popularity with young’uns, I find it surprising that it actually took the game this long to arrive on Nintendo’s nearly four-year-old console. Is the arrival of “Minecraft: Wii U Edition” worth the wait?
For folks who have never played the game and have no plans to go the PC route, the answer will be “yes.” As far as Minecraft’s console versions go, the Wii U Edition compares favorably and even has features that might entice those who have played on PlayStation and Xbox.
To help it stand out from the rest of the Minecraft family, the Wii U Edition throws in a touch of Nintendo’s popular mascot. This comes in the form of the Super Mario Edition’s Mash-Up Pack, which features textures based on Nintendo’s mascot that allows you to create your own Mario-themed area or even re-create famous structures from past games. Loading the Mario-inspired portion of the game, for example, unveils a themed sandbox that includes gigantic recreations of characters such as Mario, Chomp Chomp and Bob-omb. It also comes with a recreation of the castle from Super Mario 64 as well as Mario 64 music, which should bring a smile to folks who recognize it.
In addition to a plethora of textures, the game comes with a variety of Mario-themed skins. You get familiar items such as mushrooms as well as skins that turn chickens into goombas and sheep into koopas to keep things more in line with the Mario theme.
Another thing that sets this version apart is the use of the Wii U tablet, particularly for off-TV play. Otherwise, the Wii U edition should be familiar to folks who have played other console versions of Minecraft. You continue to have options such as Creation Mode for folks who want a more free-ranging crafting experience. For folks who want an extra challenge or a more game-like atmosphere, there’s Survival Mode as well to keep them occupied. You can also have up to four-player split screen for players who want to share in the fun.
Just like other versions of Minecraft, the best part of playing the Wii U Edition is freely going about as you explore, build and craft to your heart’s desire as day turns to night and back. There’s just something about the basic Minecraft experience that tickles a creative spot in your brain and feels wonderfully satisfying.
One thing I wish that the game fleshed out more is use of the Wii U tablet. For folks who prefer the controls on PC, the tablet’s touchscreen could have been an awesome interface but sadly wasn’t used to its full potential. Also, while the off-TV option is great, it does make some of the text harder to read.
For folks not interested in the Mario components, the game likely won’t provide enough incentive to jump off from the PC or other console version. And if you’ve burnt out on Minecraft after playing the game a long time, this edition likely won’t change your mind. If you’re a Minecraft fans with a soft spot for Mario or a new player itching to see what Minecraft is all about, however, this is one warp pipe you’ll want to jump into.
Minecraft: Wii U Edition adds a touch of Mario to the popular crafting franchise while bringing it to Nintendo’s console. Outside of the Mario-themed additions, folks who have invested lots of time with other console or vanilla PC versions likely won’t have incentive to make the switch. For those who have yet to play Minecraft, however, the Wii U Edition could be a good jump-in point to get their toes wet and find out what the fuss is all about.