It’s been a bumper week for fans of mobile block world games as the Behemoth that is Minecraft Pocket Edition released its much anticipated 0.8.0 update whilst Kaalus dropped both his 1.23 & 1.24 updates for Survivalcraft. On the surface both had certain similarities, but despite all the work and effort that has gone into these updates I find myself only playing one of the games. Let me explain…
Minecraft 0.8.0 saw the addition of big ticket items such as minecarts and rails meaning that, at long last, there was a reason to mine redstone because without it you couldn’t make the powered rails that make MC’s minecarts so much fun. This alone would have been a huge deal in an update, but 0.8.0 is crammed with other additions as Mojang slowly move the mobile version of their game further down the road to parity with their desktop or console versions. True this will take some time, not just for them to do but for mobile platforms to become truly powerful enough, but they have a roadmap and they are doing their best to stick to it.
Minecarts aside, Mojang also pulled some cool tricks out of the bag. They added breedable animals meaning that overnight farming became a serious option in the game rather than the luck-of-the-spawn it had been before. They added new crops too (pumpkins, potatoes, carrots & beetroot to be precise) further enhancing the farming options, but they didn’t stop there. They upped the draw distance to allow you to see pretty much all of the world as long as you have a powerful enough device, my 1st Gen Nexus 7 struggles a little with the maximum setting but runs smooth one notch down and the difference is wonderful – the horrible fog has gone!
Meanwhile, over in Survicvalcraft, Kaalus managed to squeeze two updates out in the time it took Mojang to release 0.8.0, but boy did he pack a heap in! A massive revamp of the electricity system, a huge draw distance upgrade (the maximum setting of which does not make my N7 stutter at all), lots of new animals, and a new weapon, namely the bow.
But I said at the start of this post that I was only playing one of these games, so which? You can stop holding your breath now, it’s MCPE. The Survivalcraft updates have left me cold since about 1.20 and the latest one is no different. 1.24 adds yet more bloody animals and a weapon that’s simply not fun to use. This is my biggest problem with Survivalcraft now, each update simply adds more of the same and the same is always po-faced and dull. I don’t want a bow I have to load manually and then practice like crazy to use effectively, I want a shotgun with string! I don’t want a tiger to add to the same landscapes as the lion, wolves, bears, coyotes, and whatever else Kaalus can model and shove in, I want pigs that pop babies out when fed!
Y’see, complain as we might about Mojang’s release schedule whilst sat the same time heaping praise upon Kaalus for popping something out every six weeks, the simple fact is Mojang give us fun stuff whilst Kaalus gives us the gaming equivalent of a 2am Open University programme on TV; worthy but dull.
In the week that 0.8.0 has been out for MCPE I have built three farms, two more monster-zones and retro-fitted a minecart system to my main deep mine shaft. In roughly the same time in Survivalcraft I have watched the bow work on youtube and decided not to play it again. Hell, I haven’t even downloaded the latest patch and that is a baaaaad sign for any game.
It pains me to say it, it honestly does, but what I thought might happen is now occurring; Mojang are finally making their game more like the PC version and giving players what they want, all the fun of MC on their phones and tablets. In doing so, MCPE will always bee seen as the leader of the block world pack and games like SC will be niche attractions, well-done and clever, but niche all the same.