Minecraft: Wii U Edition is getting a Nether-sized update tomorrow. This digital vitamin shot should bring the Wii U iteration of Mojang's tremendous adventure / building game up to speed with other console versions of the game (or at least close).
According to a press release distributed by Nintendo earlier today, we're looking at “a long list of new potions, blocks, mobs and biomes. (…) Players can also purchase the new Biome Settlers Skin pack, which brings 24 new settler characters into the game and even more biome-themed skins they can use to role-play with their friends.”
The Wii U version of Minecraft is a humungo hit on the eShop, particularly in Japan. While any good news about the Wii U is inspiriting — Nintendo's spunky console is an underdog if there ever was one — Minecraft: Wii U Edition's success inspires conflicted feelings amongst Minecraft fans because it's a standing example of wasted potential.
The first bullet point on the list of game updates should be “You can use the Wii U GamePad for inventory management now!” Obviously, it's not there. Neither can you use the GamePad as a screen option when playing local split-screen with a pal.
Granted, one of the biggest selling points for Minecraft: Wii U Edition is its off-TV play, which prevents families from igniting a small war whenever someone wants to watch TV but someone else wants to play Minecraft. It's a good option, but it's the only second-screen option for Minecraft Wii U, and that's a darn shame. Someday game historians will write essays on the wasted potential of the Wii U GamePad, and Minecraft will be noted in the first paragraph (along with the Wii U's baffling lack of Pokémon Snap 2).
But the list of disappointments for Minecraft: Wii U don't stop at its lack of second-screen options. Nintendo should have latched onto the Minecraft property in the Wii U's earliest days. It certainly didn't have to do anything as drastic as buy Mojang (how ironic that we saw Minecraft on Wii U only after Microsoft snapped up the Swedish studio), but Minecraft's Nintendo no-show until the tail end of 2015 is mind-blowing.
It also proved to be a bad business move. Minecraft is selling like crazy on the eShop, regardless of the fact the game has been around long enough to see release on PC, major consoles, handhelds, mobile, and electric toothbrushes (OK, not yet, but someday). What has Nintendo missed out on by not securing a Wii U version of Minecraft in 2012 or 2013?
Finally, Nintendo's not doing a sufficient job of nurturing Minecraft: Wii U Edition now, even though the game is funneling money directly into its mouth (after Microsoft gets its bite, of course). Any version of Minecraft living on Nintendo's real estate should offer players official character skins and world builds from day one.
Mario, Peach, the Inklings, Hyrule, Zebes, the Mushroom Kingdom — why can't we access glorious chunkified versions of these people and places? When will we be able to, if ever?
We may as well take solace in the hope that Nintendo will know better than to ignore Minecraft when the NX launches. Regardless of how you feel about Minecraft, no one is going to argue that a version of the game packed with official Nintendo locations / skins would turn some heads at the NX debut.