Minecraft Switch Edition review: Building a platform

Credit: Mojang/Nintendo
Credit: Mojang/Nintendo /

The Nintendo Switch’s efforts to bolster its library necessarily require the presence of Minecraft Switch, but not every transition is an advantage.

Developer: Mojang
Publisher: Mojang
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (Version reviewed), PS4, Xbox One, PC, Xbox 360, PS3, PS Vita, Wii U, PC, iOS, Android, Linux
Release Date: May 11, 2017 (Switch Edition)

In the words of my Editor-in-Chief regarding another recent Nintendo Switch release, “It’s on the Nintendo Switch now.”

That sentence should, for the most part, sum up Minecraft Switch Edition for you. There are very few surprises here. There is no extra content that you could not have picked up via the Wii U version of the game, and except for a few technical perks that may appeal to a few, there is no special reason to get Minecraft on the Switch unless you, a Switch-owner, feel like picking it up on a second, third, twelfth system. Such is the popularity of Minecraft, especially among a younger generation who has embraced its creative possibilities. But I, a newcomer, find this and most console versions lacking due to the absence of what makes Minecraft amazing in the first place: the robust online sharing community.

But let me back up. If you’ve lived under a block for the last six years, Minecraft is a world creation tool mixed with a survival/adventure game. There are three primary modes named after exactly what I just said: Survival, Creative, and Adventure. In Survival, you enter the world with nothing and are tasked with mining the environment for resources and crafting tools to survive against the relentless enemies that inhabit it. Creative Mode turns off the bad guys and gets the juices flowing, allowing you to build anything you like using any of the texture packs you’ve purchased, or the Super Mario pack that comes with the Switch version of the game.

minecraft switch edition
Credit: Mojang/Nintendo /

While there’s nothing inherently wrong with Survival Mode, it alone does not make an excellent game. There are plenty of other titles out there that offer similar adventures in far more clever ways. Minecraft’s excellence has always been dependent on its creative community sharing Adventures to play in Adventure Mode, worlds to destroy and be destroyed by in Survival Mode, and fabulous projects in Creative. But the Nintendo Switch, like most of the other console versions of the game, can’t offer that to its audience.

The ability to take the game anywhere and share it with a friend locally…may seal the deal for those who already own a Switch.

You see, you can only play online with friends who happen to have the game on at the same time and have their worlds open for play. For me, that included exactly zero people, all the time. Even if I had a friend who owned the game, I’d have to somehow reach out to them outside of the game and figure out a time for us to play together because, oh no, we still don’t have proper online features on the Nintendo Switch.

minecraft switch edition
Credit: Mojang/Nintendo /

Look, no one expected the robust online modding community from the PC version of Minecraft, but take a look at the Xbox One version of the game, which allows you to open games up to the world or limit them to just friends. I had the tiniest of hopes even for something like Super Mario Maker, where you could at least search for community worlds you wanted to play in via a database, or even a sharing feature just for sharing Adventures, but alas, no. I get it, Microsoft owns Mojang; they want the better features on their own platforms. But that doesn’t make the loneliness of playing what’s obviously intended as a community game solo any less poignant.

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Lonely as it may be, Minecraft does succeed in the same way most Nintendo Switch editions of older games have, and that’s in the technical aspect of being both console and portable. Unless you own a Vita, the only portable Minecraft available to you prior to this was the tiny, limited mobile edition of the game, leaving the Switch plenty of room to take over as the perfect portable Minecraft experience. Admittedly, the draw distance is some kind of awful sometimes in handheld mode, but the ability to take the game anywhere and share it with a friend locally (provided you have a second pair of Joy Cons on hand) may seal the deal for those who already own a Switch.

7. Minecraft Switch Edition is a strange animal, largely focused around a competent, if simplistic survival game and supplemented with worldbuilding that you can share with maybe one friend who also owns this edition of the game. Stripped of the game’s best aspects and with a limited amount of skin packs, much of Minecraft’s appeal is lost. Split-screen co-op and portability options do what they can to entice an audience, and may attract some eager to expand their Nintendo Switch library. If you already own Minecraft anywhere else, you’re not missing much here.. Mojang. . Minecraft Switch Edition

A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.