Minecraft: Wii U Edition Review

What's mine is now yours

Minecraft Wii U Edition screen 4

The Verdict

Without factoring in that other versions of Minecraft recently received a big update, Minecraft: Wii U Edition doesn’t feel like a definitive experience in its current form. The worst of it is the negligence in connection with the GamePad: what should have been the star incentive for investing in this version, doesn’t serve as a strong enough draw. Especially considering that this version is $10 more than other console iterations, it can leave players (experienced or otherwise) feeling shortchanged. Yes, it wasn’t without reason, but that reason isn’t entirely satisfying to make peace with.

This is all coming from a features standpoint, because the fact that Minecraft is finally available on a Nintendo platform is a more satisfying focal point. This doesn’t mean settling for less, either, because while the GamePad isn’t a strong complement for the overall package, gameplay isn’t hampered by this lack of initiative. For any who consider the Wii U among their preferred platforms, playing Minecraft: Wii U Edition will still mean many harebrained adventures and the creation of new memories with friends, regardless of its exterior shortcomings.

The Positives:

  • Once you understand how to play, the control mapping is fairly intuitive and doesn’t present issues in the way of uncomfortable configurations.
  • Inventory management can be done using the +Control Pad or Left Analog Stick, which is fine as it is. But it could have been better had the GamePad's touch-screen capabilities been taken advantage of as they should have.
  • In addition to local split-screen gameplay, two players from the same console can head to another player’s online world or host their own session.
  • The default voice chat function is adequate, although the less-than-crisp feedback derived from the GamePad may not be to your liking if headsets are your standard.
  • The game allows for Off-TV Play, which, for some, will be seen as its own incentive.
  • Friends List notifications make it easy to connect with fellow Minecraft players while also giving you a slight heads-up on what they’re up to at a particular moment (e.g., "Enjoying the View", "Into the Nether").
  • In addition to the six included DLC packs, 16 other add-ons are available for purchase on the eShop, with more promised for the future. (Perhaps this will include the Marvel Skin Packs available elsewhere.)

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The Negatives:

  • Quickly pushing the Left Analog Stick up twice to run can be finicky at times, even with sufficient food and health.
  • Some will be disappointed to learn that a Pro Controller is required for split-screen play; the Classic Controller won’t work here.
  • While using the Sign item to enter messages, the on-screen keyboard can be glitchy at times, with letters not displaying until after you’ve typed a few.
  • It’s bizarre that there are no touch-screen commitments for inventory, and this is especially inexplicable when you consider that there is limited functionality for certain actions, like being able to tap ‘Done’ when you’re finished entering text on a Sign.
  • When Off-TV Play is not enabled, the GamePad screen is just used to show a dirt block with dirt terrain for a background. On the whole, it's rather disappointing to see the controller so underutilized.
  • The connection of the player whose world you’re visiting can impact the experience: blocks that you mine may reappear, avatars may have delayed responses and enemies may deal damage even when you try to attack from a safe distance. In a similar manner, attempting to join players may at times bounce back connection errors.
  • The $30 price tag will definitely present a barrier for many. The Xbox and Playstation versions of Minecraft can be purchased for $20, whether in digital or physical format. The bundled DLC (i.e., three texture packs and three skin packs) is what accounts for the price hike, but this won’t mean anything to those who would much rather have just the base experience with à la carte downloads.

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By its definition of an open-world concept, there’s no wrong way to play Minecraft. It’s probably not wise to venture into the Nether world until you’re “of age,” but you can certainly do it. Just as you can disturb underground mazes, home to Cave Spiders and Zombies. Or tour small villages where jerkish Skeletons are on regular patrol, keeping everyone house-bound. There’s also no wrong way to experience Minecraft (barring Minecraft: Story Mode, which is something on its own).

This is a game where there is no stigma associated with playing it any way other than its established form, and a Wii U iteration isn’t going to change that. Some titles originally on a competing platform have undergone changes or been buffed with content upon coming to Wii U, Don’t Starve: Giant Edition being one recent example. With the long (perhaps abandoned) wait for this version of Minecraft, there was an expectation that this would follow a similar approach, or at minimum be without compromises in content. Whether viewed as a gateway into the world of Minecraft or as an alternate option with potentially more convenient multiplayer prospects, there are some signs to mind before embarking on the journey.