A hands-on look at the blockiest version of the blockiest game on block street.
Among the surprises during yesterday's Nintendo Direct was an announcement, and release, of Minecraft for New Nintendo 3DS. This is a big deal for a couple of reasons, and simultaneously not a big deal for a couple of reasons. Make sense? Let's break it down.
Minecraft on New Nintendo 3DS (remember, this is exclusive to the "New" 3DS and 2DS systems) marks something of a world takeover for Minecraft in so much as this is the last platform the game needed to be on to be playable on basically any possible gaming device one could have. Never before, in my life, has a game permeated platforms like Minecraft has. This game is available on every console, handheld, and mobile device available. 3DS was the last holdout, and now here we are.
It's hard to tell exactly what kind of gamer will be excited about this announcement. Most kids are already playing Minecraft on any other number of devices, including but not limited to Nintendo Switch and Wii U. However, there are almost certainly going to be kids who don't have dedicated tablets or phones, and who don't have most gaming consoles either. Getting a New Nintendo 2DS XL for $150 and a copy of Minecraft for $30 is probably the most economical way to get into the game.
The big question here is, how well does the game run? I've put a few hours into it so far, and honestly it's not that bad. The footage shown off during the Nintendo Direct did not look particularly great, but when you see the game running on your handheld, despite the low resolution, it feels immediately like Minecraft. Personally, I'm kind of stunned at how well the game runs on the handheld, considering the low resolution of the screen and the limited horsepower of the gameplay.
Some digging by more ambitious folks than I have shown that the game runs at a mostly steady framerate of around 20 fps, with occasional drops. That's not great, but once again; considering the hardware, it's not bad. In addition, the game houses larger worlds than even the Wii U version of the game. Nintendo's least loved system allows for worlds of up to 864x864, whereas the 3DS game supports up to 2016x2016. For comparison, the Switch version of the game goes as high as 3072x3072.
The game controls well on 3DS, although your mileage with the C-Stick nub may vary. I found it a bit difficult at first, but adjusted quickly to using dual analog controls on my New 2DS XL. One benefit of playing on the dual-screened handheld is that your map is on display at all times, making it easier to keep your bearings and explore with a bit lessened risk.
The touch screen works well for inventory management and crafting (which was more than you could say for the Wii U game) but there's no drag-and-drop functionality. Instead, you select an item, and select another cell, and the items will swap locations. Using the D-Pad is the most comfortable way to use the inventory as a result.
There is no multiplayer support yet, although it is thought to be coming in a future update.
If you have any questions about the functionality of Minecraft on New Nintendo 3DS, leave a comment below, or hit me up on twitter at @NWR_DrewMG or @Nintendo_NWR.