A Work Which Becomes A Genre In Itself
Though Minecraft has earned many awards across it’s many, many years of active gameplay, is there a greater accolade for any piece of work than to call itself the beginnings of a new genre?
Minecrafts‘ biggest appeal is the construction toy taken to infinite proportions. It’s limited of course, but considering it’s now over six years old that’s not exactly surprising. Despite vast numbers of updates, a battery of additions made to the format and a host of new features, it still remains the same open-world, survival, castle-building trap crafting game that emerged from the vast planes of flat creative surface that first captured the internet’s imagination in 2009.
I’m sure I’m not alone in having cringed a little at the recent flood in the market, an assortment of badly named block-built worlds to explore and destroy. Consider these as chaff if you will, like any fad Minecraft has raised a glut of imitators and emulators, not all of which can be considered successful, but there are one or two fascinating examples that have arisen amidst the miasma of dross.
The same system of brick-building world style applied to robots designed to blast each other to bits! Use your bricks to build your framework, apply wheels, treads, wings and foils, armour plating and a bunch of guns, and enjoy. Or at least enjoy as long as you can, until someone else shows up and starts shooting.
Robocraft caters to something that Minecraft simply cannot, the build-your-own vehicles fun that other construction toys offer, and applies fast-paced combat. One can’t help but appreciate the appeal of riding into battle with a fully armed and operational Sonic the Hedgehog, or a flying assortment of swear-words. I have yet to play Robocraft, but it’s on “the list” that ever eternal to-do list that will haunt me to my grave. It sits there with a collection of recommendations, so in the fullness of time I may finally find the time.
Alright, here I admit you’ve lost me.
Terraria is Minecraft for platformers from what I see. I played it a little, enjoyed it for a while and then went back to Minecraft, for which I’m not entirely sorry. While Terraria offers a lot of new features (as any great pastiche should) and creates more variety of worldscapes from its’ procedural engine, I have to say I take more joy from building my fortifications in full 3D.
Perhaps it’s because I’m not such a huge fan of the survival side of the game. Terraria offers far more by way of exciting weapons and combat options, but it also offers a far greater amount of visual control on your creations. Of course there’s no denying popularity. The response to Terraria is hugely positive, and a vast number of people are already sinking hours of gameplay time into it. I just don’t share the joy personally.
Perhaps the most interesting contender to Minecrafts‘ throne is Lego Worlds. Lego recently released a range of Minecraft kits in partnership with Mojang, quite a substantial range at that. It’s a little surprising then to find an open-world Lego building universe that’s so strikingly similar.
Available for early access now on Steam, Worlds has a kind of “anything you can do, I did better long ago” attitude. Replace the generated villages of Minecraft with multi-genre settlements, the minecarts with immense drilling apparatus, and throw in the full range of vehicle options that Robocraft brings to the table. This should be the perfect addition to the market.
Potentially it could be ruined by optimism and overreaching, but who better to bring Lego to computers than Lego themselves? They have a legacy of amazing games backing them up, the best Star Wars games made, perhaps the only Marvel Universe game we’ll ever see that lets you play the complete range of major-players, and can I just say that I really enjoyed the Rock Raiders game?
Minecraft was only the beginning of something far greater than itself, and like anything truly original it has spawned countless clones and similar attempts to ride the trend, or even just a few over-eager developers who think they know better. From out of that we get a few gems, but Minecraft‘s popularity shows negligible decline in popularity, and is a tough titan to fell in todays’ market.