[Review] Minecraft: New Nintendo 3DS Edition
Minecraft finally comes to the Nintendo 3DS, buy only the NEW 3DS/2DS
Platform: New Nintendo 3DS/2DS
Developer: Other Ocean Interactive
Introduction: Minecraft has become one of those games that everyone knows about, despite not everyone playing it. From parents who buy their kids the games, toys, and birthday party sets, to the kids (and adults) who actually play it, Minecraft is a game that everyone knows simply because it’s everywhere and available on just about every platform. The Nintendo 3DS/2DS has been one platform that hasn’t had its own version, that is until now. After their Direct press briefing last week, where the game was announced, Nintendo said Minecraft would be available for the New Nintendo 3DS and New Nintendo 2DS later the same day and true to their word, we have it.
Mojang (owned by Microsoft) and develop Other Ocean have had the monumental task of bringing the world-building game to Nintendo’s handheld and I say monumental because, for all intents and purposes, the 3DS’s hardware is the same that it’s been since 2011, with a few exceptions, like the “nubstick.” It must be said, Minecraft: New Nintendo 3DS Edition is exactly that, ONLY for the “New” Nintendo 3DS/2DS. If you don’t have a “New” Nintendo 3DS/2DS, i.e., the ones with the little rubber thumbstick that I call the nubstick, you can’t play this game. Without the nubstick, you would have no way to rotate the 3D camera. Because of this exclusion, there is a massive population of DS and 3DS owners that won’t be able to play this version of Minecraft.
On the flipside, by limiting the hardware that can play this version of Minecraft the developer, Other Ocean, has been able to really push the slightly upgraded hardware of the New 3DS/2DSS over older 3DS/2DS’s, so much so, that this iteration of Minecraft is actually bigger in size than the Wii U version. Other Ocean has somehow managed to create a world of 2016 x 2016 and 128 block high.
So the game world is bigger than a full-fledged console’s version, which in-and-of-itself is amazing, but there are a few other cool aspects of Minecraft: New Nintendo 3DS Edition. However, there are just more negatives than positives, but we’ll cover that in a moment.
One of the best parts of Minecraft has been the inclusion of “skins” and with the New 3DS Edition, Other Oceans has included six free skin packs which include: Standard, Biome Settlers Pack 1 and 2, Redstone Specialists, Journey to the West, and Holiday Skin Pack 2015. Each pack contains a good variety of skins some with over 10 or 15 skins total, if not more.
Another benefit of being on the 3DS is the addition of the second screen, which has been skillfully utilized, to show players the map of the world, their inventory, and building supplies, making building much easier and more intuitive.
The Bad (Not so much as bad, as it is just disappointing)
Sadly, that’s about where the “good” ends. If you’re reading this review, you more than likely familiar with Minecraft, so I’m not going to cover specific gameplay, but discuss more of the optimization, Minecraft is Minecraft, the game hasn’t changed.
First and foremost and possibly the most obvious, there’s no 3D in a 3D building game on a Nintendo 3DS. You can slide that toggle all the way up and there’s nothing to see, there is absolutely no 3D in this game. That may be because of the amount of processing the aged hardware would have to push and when you consider what it’s doing already, that may have just been too much to ask. While I’ve praised Other Ocean for managing to squeeze a larger version of Minecraft on the New 3DS, when compared to the Wii U, there are some trade-offs I have to mention. The first of which is draw distance. This is a big problem and so noticeable that it’s almost distracting. The second is the game’s framerate, while it’s not necessarily janky, it’s definitely not running at 30 frames per second. Is it a deal breaker? Certainly not, but if you’ve played Minecraft elsewhere, it is something you will definitely notice.
The game itself is nothing more than a version of Minecraft: Pocket Edition repackaged and altered to run on Nintendo’s handheld. The reason that’s a big deal is that Pocket Edition already runs on millions of phones, iPhones (4, 5, 6, 7, etc) to the myriad of Android devices. Let’s not forget tablets and iPads, too. In addition to that, it also runs better and only costs $6.99, which is $23 less than the 3DS/2DS version.
It gets worse, there's also a new version of Minecraft on the Nintendo Switch, which is also far better and costs the same price. The Switch version looks better, plays smoother and has multiplayer. On top of that, the Switch version is a newer build and thus, will receive the “Better Together” update. The Better Together update will unite the Windows 10, XBox One, Mobile, VR and Switch platforms to be on the same “network” so players can have a truly expansive “all-in-one” multiplayer experience. The 3DS version will not be included in that update but will receive an update later (after launch) for local-only multiplayer. Let’s be real, that’s just not how Minecraft was meant to be played.
To put it simply, there really isn’t a scenario in which someone should buy this game. Most homes already have a PC (and even older PC’s can play Minecraft). If you’re on the go, you can play this game on an iPod, iPhone, Android phone or a tablet. If you don’t have one of those, you can buy an Amazon Fire Tablet ($49.99) and Minecraft Pocket Edition ($6.99) for $57 combined and have a better experience (not to mention you’ll have a full Android-powered tablet afterward). If you’re tempted to buy a Nintendo Switch soon, because of Zelda, Splatoon 2 or the upcoming Super Mario’s Odyssey, but also love Minecraft, just wait it out. You’d spend the same $29 for the Switch version as you would for the 3DS version but you’ll get a better, more robust version of the game.
It’s hard for me to say not to buy a game, when the game itself, isn’t bad. Let me stress that again, this version of Minecraft isn’t a bad game, it’s just not great either. It also doesn't exist in a vacuum. There are tons of other versions of this game already available, many of which are newer. Had this game come out a year or two ago, it may have been an easier sell, but right now, at $29.99, I just can’t suggest for someone to spend the money for it unless they don’t own a computer, a phone, an iPod touch, a tablet or a home console like the Xbox One, Switch or PS4. If the 3DS is your only means to play video games and you have to have Minecraft, then, by all means, pick up this version, you will enjoy it. In all the other scenarios, don’t.