Minecraft: Switch Edition Review

Climbing Out of My Cubic Rock

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably played some incarnation of Minecraft, the phenomenon that’s one part resourceful survival game and another part creative block building simulator. Well, I have a confession: I’ve been living under that rock and haven’t ever touched Minecraft…until now.

Be sure to check out the Video Version here!

In a way, I’m thankful I waited for Minecraft: Switch Edition to formally dive into the series. This version includes all the core concepts found in all console editions. Explore a large, randomly generated blocky world to call your own. Mine the cubes around you for resources, then use those to craft structures, tools, armor, and anything else you can think of. In Survival mode, you must manage your resources carefully during the day so that you can avoid or defeat the perilous creatures that emerge at night. Creative mode downplays the danger and removes the crafting restrictions so you can focus on building whatever you want. You can even fly freely in this mode. A hefty playable tutorial helped familiarize me with both basic and advanced techniques, although I had to play it a few times to understand the game’s complexities.

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Minecraft goes well with Mario. Who knew?

Between these modes, I preferred Survival mode for its emphasis on exploration and resource management. The prerequisite of gathering specific resources to create better materials motivated me with its sense of progression. The crafting is, thankfully, simplistic (unless you turn on the more complex Classic Crafting). I can navigate the menus easily enough although there is unfortunately little touchscreen support. Early on, I felt accomplished after building my first house from scratch, and my heart was racing after I escaped a lava-filled dungeon by mining my way out. I’m only scratching the surface here: magic, minecarts, levers, wings – the sky’s the limit. There is a way to “beat” the game, but testing my limits and improving my abilities are what drew me in day after day. Creative mode also allows for goal setting, though it focuses on what you want to make as opposed to why you have to build. This will appeal to those with big imaginations or a penchant for Lego blocks.

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Crafting is pretty simple, and a “classic crafting” option is available for pros.

Just like with Lego building, you get out what you put in. If you go in with aspirations to make something grand, Minecraft gives you a wide sandbox and an array of styles to produce your masterpieces. The more you invest into crafting a personalized world, the more you’ll adore it. If you’re not as big on creating and are mostly interested in seeing others’ works, then there’s less to like.

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Welcome to Mr. Panda’s Minecraft House!

You can visit others’ worlds online, but only if you are friends on the system and only while they are online. I haven’t visited many other worlds as a result. While it’s fun to see what others have crafted and exciting to build something with an online acquaintance, the experience suffers from a lack of in-game chat. I would have appreciated voice chat to converse with visitors and hosts. The bigger shame is that there isn’t even in-game text chat. The best I could come up with to communicate is crafting a sign and hoping that a friend sees it. Unless you use an external medium, interaction is nearly nonexistent.

At the very least, there are premade worlds you can play in. The Super Mario world, exclusive to the Nintendo Switch and Wii U versions, is one of the most detailed and fun to explore, especially for a big Nintendo fan. As a plus for Switch owners, the Super Mario customized textures and player skins are free. Though it only alters the visual style, seeing a world of Piranha Plants, Tanooki suits, and other Mario-themed decorations went a long way in increasing my enjoyment value. There are other premade worlds and texture packs that caught my interest, but they’re only available as demos until you plop down more money for the content.

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There are several available texture packs and skins to choose from.

There is also split-screen multiplayer for up to four players—if you have local players and enough controllers. Note that you need a full pair of Joy-Con controllers or a traditional controller for each player, making local play a costly venture. Aside from cooperating in a map together, you can engage in 8-player competitive modes: Battle, Tumble, and the newly added Glide. Battle is a fight to the death whereas Tumble opts for a king-of-the-hill approach. I’m not as fond of the difficult-to-control Glide. They’re decent diversions, but they lack the depth of the main crafting game. Also, I’ve experienced much more lag and connection errors during these games.

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Competitive multiplayer is a decent diversion.

The game employs the classic blocky visuals that the series is known for. Although the maps aren’t as big as the other console versions, they are larger than the Wii U’s and other pocket editions by far. It’s impressive how much the Switch can churn out, given how many assets are on the screen, while the game consistently runs at 60fps. The draw distance suffers, and you can’t always see what’s far ahead of you, but that’s a small price to pay. I liked the calm music, which easily faded into the background as I crafted away. The texture pack you’re using determines what music plays, and the Super Mario pack delivers fanservice with the entire track list from Super Mario 64.

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The Super Mario Mash-up Pack is a huge draw for the Switch Edition.

Conclusion

It’s easy to write off Minecraft: Switch Edition as a cash cow and standard port. It doesn’t help that a lack of voice chat and restrictions on how to visit other worlds limit online play. But if you shift focus to the system it’s running on, this version stands out. Thanks to the Switch’s unique hybrid capabilities, you can play in the same customized world on both the big and small screens. You can play however and wherever, which is a big draw for this open-ended game. If I were younger, I could see myself building massive designs on a TV, then showing off my creations on the Switch tablet. Thanks to the Switch edition’s pick-up-and-play versatility, combined with the free and exclusive Super Mario Mash-up Pack, this is one of the best versions I could have started out with and is an ideal purchase for fans on-the-go and newcomers alike.

Score: 8/10

A review copy was used for this article. This review was originally written in June 2017 for Darkstation. This version and the video are slightly updated with footage and information about the Version 1.0.6 Update which includes Glide Mode and 1080p resolution.

What are your thoughts on Minecraft? Have you ever gotten into the series or have you been living under a rock like me? What are your favorite things to do in the game? Please share any thoughts and questions you have in the comments section below! Thank you for reading and watching!

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39 thoughts on “Minecraft: Switch Edition Review

  1. Excellent review! I, too, have been living under a rock devoid of Minecraft. So I learned a lot from your review! Hopefully, I can be knowledgeable now when people ask me if I know what a creeper is! 😛 I enjoyed playing with Legos as a kid, but I’m not quite creative enough to build an entire world of my own. The draw for me would be exploring pre-made worlds or those that other more creative minds have built. I really like the Mario bonuses in the Switch edition, they’re pretty amazing! I’m pretty tempted to explore that Super Mario World!! I might have to try it out sometime. I could even make my own rock to hide under… hehe.

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    1. I didn’t play too much with Legos, but I wish I did to foster my creativity. I love the idea of what you can build in Minecraft. I just wish I could build all the awesome things I see everywhere else! At least there’s that Super Mario World. I love all the references in it. It’s so neat! Thank you again as always for all your support! It’s always great to learn about a popular game that’s popular with the kids!

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  2. Awesome review! I’m amazed there are some folks in the world who haven’t played Minecraft 😉 but the Switch is perfect for it. The issue for me was always having each world locked to a PC, or a costly server.

    > If you’re not as big on creating and are mostly interested in seeing others’ works, then there’s less to like.

    This is exactly why I can’t dive into this one – my creativity for building is just.. poor. I always loved seeing others’ work though – can you connect to servers by IP Address like the desktop client?

    Also the ability to split screen multiplayer locally is really neat, even though it wouldn’t ever apply to me, it’s great that local multiplayer is still a consideration in games of this popularity. Makes me happy to think of kids playing together like I did when I was a young fella. 🙂

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    1. Thanks so much for your kind words and awesome comments Geddy! I’m one of those anomalies that haven’t yet played it, but I’ve heard and seen so much about it from kids, whom are the biggest audience for this right now. I told myself I’d never get into it – because of my same issues with creativity.

      Turns out, I’m still not very creative, but I respect Minecraft for what it is, and I legitimately found the survival mode fun. The sense of progression is similar to other adventure games that I’ve enjoyed over the years. And I think the Switch Edition, with its free Mario pack and portability, make it an ideal way to play. I like seeing creations more than building them myself.

      As for your question, you can type in a seed to load up a base world, but you can’t just join another person’s game unless they’re online and are your friends on Switch. Friends of friends count for some players too. The desktop client seems like the way to go, and is likely better than any of the console versions, this included.

      Local multiplayer is perfect, both for my wife and me, and for kids. We’re slowly straying away from split-screen. Splatoon 2 is a completely online game and ignores it altogether. I hope that we can see more of that kind of couch play, especially for kids’ games. I have so many fond memories of playing N64 games like this! 🙂

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  3. I’ve never played it, which is strange given my love for indie games. I have a feeling it might take up too much of my spare time, which I don’t have much of (being an intergalactic Space Lord). It’s another one for the sales, I reckon.

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    1. Yay! I’m not the only one who has avoided the series! I know that there are many people who are quite absorbed into Minecraft, so I see what you mean about it taking up a lot of time. Just like we triggered I Am Setsuna’s sale, I bet we can conjure up the same for Minecraft, especially since a new one is coming out in the future. Also, I didn’t know you were an intergalactic Space Lord! I’m in the presence of space royalty!

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  4. I haven’t got a switch yet but I could only think of 2 games I wanted on it anyway (breath of the wild and Mario kart) but now I have a third! I’ve managed to avoid Minecraft for ages because I know I’ll get really addicted to it if I get it but I think that soon it will be time for me to try it!

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    1. It’s a relief for me to know that there are a lot of other people who have avoided the series. I think I had just been around so many kids that have played it and knew more about it than I did that I assumed everything Minecraft was common knowledge! I recommend this Switch version as a great place to start for newbies. As a bonus, we can visit each other’s worlds and craft together if you picked it up and a Switch! 😀

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    1. Thanks a lot for your kind words!! 😀 In a way, it is a reskin of Minecraft (though the classic style is still in there), but it’s a very cute Mario reskin that brings me joy. The pre made Super Mario world is an adventure of itself, chock full of references! The overall package is great, but I think I had the most fun flying around the Mario world! If you pick it up, I’d love to visit each other’s worlds and craft together! We should play more Switch multiplayer either way! 😉

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  5. I, too, have been living under a rock and have never played Minecraft. I’ve seen it played, but it never seemed like my cup of tea. The Mario additions to this Switch version might sway me though! Also perfect timing with your mention of “cash cow” with a cow on screen 😆

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    1. I’m so delighted when you notice the little things I do on the videos! XD I’m surprised just how many people have been living under the same rock (different rocks?) and haven’t played Minecraft. Then again, maybe I’ve been biased hearing all the kids talk about it. It’s very popular with younger children, and I can see why. It’s like Legos in video game form! What you can do in it is deep, but I don’t think I’m creative enough to truly take advantage of it. The Mario additions are truly the swaying point for me. I enjoyed that single premade Super Mario World the most out of anything in this package, and I couldn’t get enough of all the little Easter Eggs and visual touches. It’s like a theme park! I hope that the Universal Studios Super Nintendo World is even more amazing, giving us entry into some of the most beloved, nostalgic worlds imaginable.

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      1. It’s VERY popular with the younger set. I watched my friend’s seven year old son play it when he was around five or so, and he was really good at it!

        I’m actually glad I was looking at my phone at the time lol. I listen to a lot of YouTube videos at work so I’m often just literally listening while doing some easy task, but I happened to turn the phone over at just the right time for that brilliance 😀

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      2. It is so popular with the younger set, and I think that’s great. Keeps us folk on our toes, trying to keep up with what’s hip nowadays haha. And I’m glad you saw it! I do a lot of fun stuff like that in my videos! 😉

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    1. Thanks a lot! The Nintendo skins are definitely the highlight. I can only hope that the Universal Studios Super Nintendo World will be even better than this. And thanks, haha. It was scary, but I braved a new frontier of mines and crafts and creepers!

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  6. I’ve been pretty on the fence about Switch Minecraft. On the one hand, I’ve played the game in long stretches throughout different parts of my life, and I’ve done tons of fun couch co-op with my friends on things like the Xbox 360 version, so I know I’d have a blast with it. Especially if it can be brought on the go thanks to the capabilities of the Switch. However, I haven’t been sure whether the game would be worth the second (third maybe?) investment into another version, especially since it can be such a relentless time suck.

    Seeing your review on it has pushed me much further in the ‘interested’ direction, I have to say. Just being able to see some of the added features – namely the wide array of Nintendo-themed skins and things like the full scale recreations of Peach’s Castle from Mario 64 and Sunshine’s Isle Delfino. Those are damn cool enough to be worth the money, I’d say! Maybe once I get out of my Splatoon 2 binge I’ll look into it more.

    I was also wondering, and figured I’d ask, is there a significant difference between the TV and portable console in terms of things like gameplay speed? For example, have you noticed the game react slower or stutter more or something along those lines when playing one way or the other?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad my review helped you! The Super Mario World and portability made a huge difference for me. I loved running (and flying) around and seeing all the references. There are a lot more, and what I captured on video is only a fraction what’s there. The ability to build anything with that theme and color palette is great too. I love the bright colors compared to the somewhat plain regular style.

      To answer your question, there was no difference between playing on the TV or portable, besides the higher resolution on TV. I had no issues with gameplay speed for either style. The draw distance is bad either way, but I had no performance issues. Hope that helps! Thanks for your comments! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah the overall aesthetics of the Nintendo-themed additions definitely seem worth while. I really appreciate you getting back on the question so quick, I’m glad to hear there aren’t any serious issues when switching play styles. That’s definitely another notch in the positives category if you ask me!

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    1. I’ll admit I’m not creative enough to enjoy it to its fullest either, but I definitely respect what the game’s appeal is and how it does a tremendous job doing what it does best. Also, the premade worlds, particularly the Super Mario World, are fantastic! I could spend all day in them! I can only hope that the Universal Studios Super Nintendo World will be every bit as amazing and more!

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  7. I played Minecraft on my iPad several years ago, and I didn’t really like it that much 😦 I just couldn’t get into it, and it was a shame to me because so many other people seemed to love it. With the Super Mario theme, though, it looks like a lot of fun!

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    1. Minecraft isn’t for everyone, and it’s really pushing what I’m used to for games. I think it’s well done, though, and I’m happy to finally say that I see the appeal for this kind of game. The Mario theme is so much fun to explore and build with!

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      1. Yeah! I’ll have to pick it up sometime! Lego Worlds also seemed interesting as a Lego Minecraft game. Or at least a Lego game that encourages building as opposed to just adventuring like most of the Lego games.

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