Truth be told, I have never played Minecraft before. Ever. Considering it was originally a PC game, and I don’t play PC games normally, I never really entered the world of Minecraft to see what it was all about. Sure, I’ve watched a video here and there about the game, but I never felt compelled to play it. But one thing I can’t deny is that it has a huge following, and since we will likely never see a release of Minecraft on a Nintendo console, indie developers are starting to step in and create Minecraft-like experiences for Nintendo devices. Cube Creator 3D is one of the first to be released in this genre, but it is worth playing?
Cube Creator 3D is broken up into two gameplay modes: Survival and Creative. Survival seemed to be what I planned on being more interested in, so I jumped into that option first. I was thrust into a randomly generated world, and I set off on my quest of survival. I walked around for about an hour. I punched a chicken and killed it. I got killed by some monsters. Then I turned the game off. I didn’t understand what I was doing. What was my goal? What was my objective? What am I doing?!
At that time, I enlisted the help of a friend of mine, Michael Sherwood Parks, who was familiar with Minecraft. He told me the basics of it and what I should be doing in Survival mode to get the most out of it, that is, if it was similar to Minecraft. That’s when it all started clicking for me. Building a home, crafting weapons and tools, searching for treasure to craft better equipment with; it all started to make sense. So, I booted up Cube Creator 3D for a second time, and next thing I knew, many hours had passed.
The game essentially is a Minecraft-like experience but more streamlined. While in Minecraft you pretty much need an FAQ to survive in the game, Cube Creator 3D allows for a more basic approach. All of your combinations appear on the touch screen to tell you what you need to create certain items. For example, if you want to craft an iron sword, a wooden sword and a piece of iron are needed. Hit the “craft” button, and it’s done. Simple, but it makes the game much more accessible to those who haven’t played a game like this before, such as myself.
Other options on the touch screen are your tools that you have crafted, what items you have on you, a bag that contains your food and special minerals, and a chest that contains different types of armor and your essential sleeping bag. It makes it very easy to choose things on the fly, and I appreciated the simplistic layout in what could have been a daunting experience.
In Survival mode, you have to deal with animals and enemies who want you dead. Managing your life is essential, so cooking animals you kill will restore your health if you have battled an enemy and taken damage. I built a nice little home in my Survival mode, and kept adding new things to it. Secret entry ways, additional levels in the house, nice open windows; at times I felt like a home decorator. It was a relaxing experience, and helped me understand why Minecraft was so popular: freedom.
The combat in the game is simple enough, but it works. You craft different swords based on what material you have, and use them to defend yourself. You can also use axes and shovels you created as well, but they don’t do nearly as much damage as the trusty sword. When digging in the ground and finding caves, a good weapon and armor is essential for dealing with the monsters down there and staying alive if you want to harvest the finer materials in the game.
The other mode is Creative mode, which lets you choose from preset landscapes and craft a world. Examples are mountain tops, forests, and more. Creative mode is exactly what it sounds like: no enemies, just peaceful building. Truth be told, I wasn’t that interested in the mode, as I didn’t really feel I would have the time to invest in creating massive structures. It works well, but there did seem like a limited number of options to choose from.
Indeed, that is one of the game’s biggest flaws: limited options. Even in Survial mode, I was able to get top equipment in little time, and it felt a little too easy at times, making my sessions end up shorter than I would have liked. Granted, this is an ambitious title for a smaller studio, and Big John Games is planning some additional research on patches and DLC content, so that will undeniably enhance the overall package.
The controls are fairly smooth for the game as well. Using my New 3DS XL, I did find it a bit odd that the C-Stick was the default way of walking, and the analog slider was the look option. Thankfully, you can switch that in the main menu. Switching and crafting things on the fly was easy enough as well thanks to the touch screen.
The game uses the visual style developed by Minecraft with everything being a cube, hence the “Cube Creator” name. Colors are bright and vibrant and the 3D effect gives a great scope to the game. The creatures in the world are a bit lacking visually, and there is some noticeable draw-in distance in the backgrounds. The audio department is serviceable, with decent sound effects and peaceful music. The music is a bit lacking though, as there aren’t many audio tracks present in the game.
Cube Creator 3D might not be the grand Minecraft experience that everyone was anticipating, but it is a very solid game in it’s own right. It’s much more accessible than Minecraft, and the crafting details on the touch screen make it a much smoother experience for those who have never played that game. The game may be a bit lacking in customization, and your game might not last as long as someone else’s, but those looking for a solid crafting experience will get much enjoyment from Cube Creator 3D.