topboxartMinecraft comes to the Wii U

One of the most popular games in recent memory, Minecraft, is now available on the Wii U in a special retail edition. Released late last year in the Nintendo eShop, Minecraft: Wii U Edition includes the Wii Uversion of Minecraft, the all-new Super Mario Mash-Up Pack, and the same popular Minecraft add-on content packs included in the Nintendo eShop version of the game. The Super Mario Mash-Up Pack introduces new Mario-themed character skins, Mario-themed block textures, Mario-themed music, and a pre-made Mario-themed world to inspire your imagination.

Game Details

Platform: Wii U
Developer: 4J Studios Ltd. / Microsoft Studios
Publisher: Mojang AB
Genre: Action, Adventure
Modes: single-player, multiplayer
ESRB Rating: E10+ (Everyone 10+)

A game about placing blocks and going on adventures

The multimillion selling Minecraft franchise has been around since late 2011 and since that time has been released for virtually everything under the sun including the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PS Vita. If you are new to Minecraft, I’ll explain to you what this massively popular game is all about.

In short, Minecraft is a game that focuses on exploring the open world around you with virtually no rules or objectives. With randomly generated worlds, you are free to explore and build amazing things by using blocks and resources found in the environment. You can recreate the simplest of things such as homes to some to the most magnificent castles of all times. In essence, it is easiest to think of the world of Minecraft as a giant set of virtual Legos where the only limit is your imagination.

WiiU_MinecraftWiiUEdition_screenshot_05
The same great gameplay with a few nice additions

Since the launch of the Wii U, I have always dreamed about Minecraft coming out on the Wii U. It’s almost as if the GamePad was designed around Minecraft. So of course when Minecraft: Wii U Edition was first announced, I could hardly wait to see how the GamePad was put to use.

Minecraft: Wii U Edition controls just like every other version of the game, which to be honest is both good and a bit disappointing. You see, in addition to offering GamePad support, Minecraft: Wii U Edition also supports the use of the Pro Controller and the Wii Classic Controller—giving you the exact same gameplay as other console versions. Curiously, there is no support for the Wii Remote as of yet.

However, what I was mainly interested in was how the glorious GamePad would be put to use. Puzzling, is the absence of managing your inventory using the touch screen. Sure, you can use the touch screen to select UI buttons, but not being able to manage your inventory with the easy of the GamePad’s touch screen is mindboggling. Not using the GamePad to its full potential is clearly a wasted opportunity by 4J Studios Ltd., it would have made Minecraft: Wii U Edition one of the best ports of the game in my opinion.

Conversely, Minecraft: Wii U Edition does offer Off-TV Play, the convenience of writing on the Gamepad for in game chat during online play, and voice chat. While the GamePad could have been put to better use in Minecraft: Wii U Edition, the simple fact that this game offers Off-TV Play makes it A-OK in my books.

Minecraft-Wii-U-Gamepad
Craft, create, and explore

Just like previous ports of the game, Minecraft: Wii U Edition includes three modes—Survival, Adventure, and Creative. In Survival Mode, you have a health gauge and hunger gauge, and your goal is to collect materials and survive for as long as possible. With multiple difficulty levels that scale enemy spawn rates and health regeneration, it does an excellent job of conveying the man vs. nature theme. Adventure mode is virtually identical, except that you cannot use any sort of cheats and must follow conventional rules just like a standard action/adventure game.

On the other hand, Creative Mode strips away all the difficulty. In this mode you have unlimited access to an infinite amount of materials and the ability to fly. If you are just looking to build without the hassle of enemies, then Creative Mode will be where you spend most of your time. If you can imagine it, you can most likely build. It is impressive what people have managed to build in this mode, more than I could ever possibly accomplish.

WiiU_MinecraftWiiUEdition_screenshot_04Mario meets Minecraft

In quite possibly what is one of the best mash ups of all time, Minecraft: Wii U Edition infuses the Mushroom Kingdom into Minecraft. The Super Mario Mash-up Pack is inspired by iconic games from the Super Mario series such as Super Mario Sunshine, Super Mario World, and Super Mario 64. I was impressed with all the Nintendo themed items that are included in this mega pack of Super Mario goodness.

Virtually all your favourite Mushroom Kingdom characters are here with Super Mario-themed skins, which include Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Bowser, Wario, all seven Koopalings, and my personal favourite, Birdo. As if that wasn’t enough, you also get Super Mario style textures, a Super Mario World that you can explore, and music from one of my favourite Mario games of all time—Super Mario 64.

Minecraft_WiiU_MashupPack_Mario_Shot1Solid graphics and presentation

Minecraft: Wii U Edition runs at a stable 60 frames per second, and is filled with lively colours and the speed at which it generates random worlds is fairly impressive. The draw distance isn’t too short, and the worlds do not feel cramped by any means. It’s true,Minecraft: Wii U Edition is not as expansive as the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions of the game, but I feel it is a rock-solid port that I am more than happy with.

Minecraft_WiiU_MashupPack_Mario_Shot15.jpgLocal co-op and online play

Minecraft: Wii U Edition has a 1-4 player local co-op mode and a 1-8 player online mode. Surprisingly, when playing the local co-op mode the game runs quite well, except for two little minor annoyances. If your friend opens up their inventory, the entire game pauses for a split second. Yes, that’s right, while it doesn’t sound like that big of a deal, after a while it does become annoying. My second nitpick involves the lack of Off-TV Play with the GamePad in local co-op mode-you’re forced to play split-screen on your TV.

Playing online with Minecraft: Wii U Edition is a bit different than other ports of the game, you can only play with friends. Luckily, you can head over to Miiverse and there are plenty of people looking to get added as a friend to play Minecraft online. While I don’t condone just adding random people to your friends list, if you really want to play online and your friends do not have the game this is an alternative for you to do so. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Minecraft: Wii U Edition supported the use of USB keyboard for chat. While I could still use the GamePad for voice and text chat, having the ability to use a USB keyboard was nice. I played several hours of online play with friends and I never really experienced any issues at all.

WiiU_MinecraftWiiUEdition_screenshot_06Final Thoughts

In the end, Minecraft: Wii U Edition is a solid port of the ultra-popular franchise. If you have played the game on any other platform, you will be able to jump right in. While I was disappointed that the GamePad was underutilized, Off –TV Play is a nice addition and the Super Mario Mash-up Pack is a Nintendo fan’s dream come true. It’s nice to see that 4J Studios Ltd. are releasing regular updates for Minecraft: Wii U Edition, the latest major update being the addition of the Tumble Mini Game.

I can only imagine that if this game came out  during the launch window of the Wii U, it would have helped push the system into more homes. Regardless, if your only console is the Wii U, or you simply have to have the Nintendo exclusive Super Mario Mash-up Pack, then Minecraft: Wii U Edition is a must have game.

+ Off-TV Play is a nice feature
+ The Super Mario Mash-up Pack is full of Nintendo goodness
+ Local co-op and online play are fun

– GamePad is under utilized
– Local co-op annoyances

OVERALL

Gameplay: 4/5
Graphics: 3.5/5
Sound: 4.5/5
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4.5/5

Overall Rating 4.1/5 (82%)

Get Minecraft: Wii U Edition for Wii U