Arts in Review

Cascade Arcade: Minecraft

Well, my friends, the next step in gaming has finally arrived. What’s that? You haven’t seen any previews for the next big budget, high-definition, sensory over-load romp of a video game? Well, that is because there are no previews for the game that I would like to tell you about today.

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by Chris Bonshor (Copy Editor)

Well, my friends, the next step in gaming has finally arrived. What’s that? You haven’t seen any previews for the next big budget, high-definition, sensory over-load romp of a video game?

Well, that is because there are no previews for the game that I would like to tell you about today.

What game is it? Minecraft.

What exactly is Minecraft?

Well, right now it is essentially a giant sandbox in which you manipulate an environment of three dimensional blocks that represent things like dirt, stone, water and ore. At present, Minecraft is under development. The current version is fetchingly called “alpha.” However, there are two versions available for online play: creative and alpha, the latter of which you can also download for faster playing.

Creative play is free and allows the player to create and destroy blocks at a whim. You have no health bar and can do whatever you want. The sky, as well as the bottom of the world, is the limit. This mode also has multiplayer, which can be crazy. The server I went on resembled a city out of the worst nightmares of Dr. Suess, and which was changing all the time as people came in and shaped the world to their liking. This mode is very fun, though it can get a little boring after a few hours, as play is limited to just making and breaking things to your hearts content.

Alpha, also called survival, however, is where the real addiction starts. You start in a beautiful, randomly generated, and infinitely sized world, in which you are the only person. The game is split into day and night segments, with the night being dominated by monsters that are far more powerful than you and are killed by the sun each morning. This sounds somewhat like I am Legend, which may be a fair comparison of the spirit of the game at present. As you only have a limited amount of health, this means you need to find shelter. In order to do this, you have to harvest the materials around you to make things. You can make tools of various quality: wood, stone, iron, diamond; buildings to shelter yourself through the dangerous nights; armour to protect your delicate skin; vehicles to make travel shorter; and, most importantly, torches to light up the night and underground areas. Going underground is essential in order to find materials like coal and iron. However, since the sun cannot penetrate underground, spelunking can be a very dangerous pastime indeed as monsters rule the depths.

The world that you find yourself in has all of the materials that you need; you just have to find them. It is also very detailed and makes sense, despite being randomly generated (the caves are not like the boring, randomly generated dungeons of Oblivion fame, though they are just as dangerous, and dirt covers stone, sand is found at the beach and so on). Giant waterfalls fall from cliff faces and sink into underground caverns. Flocks of sheep eat grass on green hillsides, and look innocently at you as you shear them.

To make a long story short, play this game. At the moment, you can sign up and buy the alpha for only $14, which will also get you every future version of the game for free. There are still less than a million players, so you can say that you got in on the ground floor of an incredible and original game. In the last 24 hours 27,000 people registered and 10,000 bought the game; you could be one, too!

For more information about Minecraft, visit http://www.minecraft.net/

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