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This week, Zero Punctuation reviews Minecraft.

TranscriptEdit

My non-American viewers - who understand that the world does not consist only of a single nation sailing across an infinite sea of Mexican migrant workers - will no doubt have heard that the water around Brisbane got sick of waiting for people to come hit the beach and decided to bring the party to us. I don't keep up with the news, though, so it was only when I emerged blinking from my grotto and saw that the sandbag fairy had visited all the good little shop doorways that I found out that the central business district had flooded.

First thought: "Oh, cock. All the nearest game retailers are in the CBD because some retarded pile of cartilage on the town planning department thought it'd be a great idea to put thirty EB Games shops within the same 10 square yards."

Second thought: "Oh, balls. With humanitarian aid selfishly obstructing the delivery services, I won't be seeing any of my imports anytime soon either."

Third thought: "Oh, goody! That means I can go back inside and keep playing Minecraft!"

Minecraft is becoming as popular among computer nerds as a six-button wireless mouse with tits, but I hesitate to call it a "game," strictly speaking. All right, there are skeletons in it that you have to wave a sword at until they stop moving, which would normally characterize a game, but that's not what you're there for, in the same way you don't go to the beach to get sand kicked in your face and you don't go to Glasgow to get your eyes gouged out with broken bottles. No, respectively you go there to build sand castles and purchase heroin.

Minecraft is a creativity toy that just happens to contain monsters, and frankly I can't think of a better way to improve a creativity toy. It's like an Etch-A-Sketch where every now and again Space Invaders drop down from above and lefty knob and righty knob have to put aside their differences so that they can live to twiddle another day. Which is an apt comparison, because everything in Minecraft certainly looks like it was drawn with an Etch-A-Sketch.

My initial experience to Minecraft was, I imagine, similar to many people's. After downloading it to see what all the fuss was about, I was plonked into a LEGO representation of rural New Zealand. About all I could figure out to do was punch things, so I punched some flowers. Yeah! Eat that, flowers! And you, too, patch of dirt! Ooh, now I can pick up the dirt and rearrange it in places. I'm going to make a little pile and leave the flower on top like a mysterious Spanish gentleman.

Hey, why's it gotten so dark all of a sudden? What was that rustling sound? Why are my intestines over there now?

This is one game where there's officially no shame in looking up the FAQ. A tutorial wouldn't go amiss. "See those trees?" It would begin by saying, "chop them down with the flat of your hand. Now make a workbench. Now make a pickaxe. Mine some stone and make a better pickaxe. Now find some coal. If Lady Luck contents to smile, you'll find some in a wall somewhere. No, I don't know how you're supposed to figure all this out. And while your workbench is open, make a shovel, because the sun's going down and now you're going to dig a big hole and cry in it until the exploding bush monsters go away." It's like their only reason to live is to ruin other people's artwork. There but for the grace of God go I, suicide hedge.

So with Fisher-Price shoggoths scratching at my walls, I decided the sensible, level-headed thing to do would be to tunnel down into the center of the Earth. Perhaps there, thought I, I would find the point to all this. Well, after wearing out more picks than Jimi Hendrix on a caffeine drip I found a fair amount of iron, enough coal to black up the entire Ku Klux Klan, and three lava flows, every single one of which I fell into and lost all my items. Christ, this is like Zelda meets There Will Be Blood! But just before I hit bedrock, I finally found some gold, which I immediately crafted into a sword and armour set. "Ha! This'll give a hedge pause for thought before it kamikazes me!" But shortly afterwards I discovered that Minecraft goes for the realistic portrayal of gold, in that it's slightly less sturdy than the tinfoil around a baked potato. So, that was my net profit from the operation: fifty chests full of rocks, a big fuck-off hole, and some slightly tasteless evening wear.

But as I was trying to think of something to do with all these rocks, I noticed a nearby mountain and thought: "You know what that's crying out for? A skull fortress! With flaming towers and eyes that weep lava flows because he's depressed by all the kamikaze shrubs." So I started flattening out a nice courtyard, and the next thing I knew nine hours had passed and I was picking out wallpaper for the banqueting hall.

If I had to give two tips for enjoying Minecraft, it would be these: 1) Do not rely on fire to clear away forests unless you want your game world to look like the Vietnam War, and 2) Give yourself a project. You have to find your own entertainment, whether that be skipping through the wilderness picking flowers or building an eighty-foot golden cock and balls. I've heard the LEGO comparison before, but it puts me more in mind of a model railway, a hobby you spend hours of every day perfecting and bore everyone to death with because if you can find just one person to praise it then it won't feel like such a waste of fucking time.

Oh, shit. When did I become my dad?

Minecraft is still very much a beta, and it seems like there's still a lot of room for improvement. As with the gold example above, the ratio of "difficulty to find" versus "actual usefulness" is completely arbitrary for many substances. This is a game where having the resources to bake cakes is a mark of considerable status. And it seems like there's got to be a more efficient way to make brick walls than watching a furnace smelt each individual brick with the speed of a pensioner on a zebra crossing.

But then again, part of the appeal of building is the effort required to gather materials. That eighty-foot golden cock and balls wouldn't be so satisfyingly turgid if it weren't for the entire continent you had to turn upside-down to find all the ore. And that's what sets it apart from other creativity toys like Garry's Mod. If you can just clap your hands and summon fifty explosive barrels to pile ragdolls around, then the spectacle is as fulfilling as eating your own snot.

Minecraft is a responsible parent. It knows you'll swiftly get bored of your golden cock and balls if it just gives you one, so it pays you five dollars a week to wash its car so you can save up and gain an appreciation for value. And when you finally have your golden cock and balls, you'll love it all the more. Until Minecraft sends the suicide shrubs to demolish it, because you also need to learn that sometimes life will just shit on you. As it will when your boss finds out what you spent your entire workday on.

AddendaEdit

Bitter mine heir: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw

I built a skylight for my bedroom but sheep keep falling into it and they stand on the glass staring at me while I'm trying to sleep

Basically all I ever wanted was my own private roller coaster


ScreenshotsEdit

Minecraft 1

It's like an Etch-A-Sketch where every now and then Space Invaders drop down from above

Minecraft 2

"You know what that's crying out for? A skull fortress!"

Minecraft 3

When you finally have your golden cock and balls, you'll love it all the more. Until Minecraft sends the suicide shrubs to demolish it.

External LinksEdit

Episodes
2007 - 2010
2007
Q3 The Darkness Demo · Fable: The Lost Chapters · Zero Punctuation (Episode) · Heavenly Sword and Other Stuff · Psychonauts · Console Rundown · BioShock · Tomb Raider: Anniversary · Manhunt · Peggle
Q4 Halo 3 · Tabula Rasa · The Orange Box · Super Paper Mario · Medal of Honor: Airborne · The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass · Clive Barker's Jericho · F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate · Assassin's Creed · Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock · Mass Effect
2008
Q1 Super Mario Galaxy · Silent Hill: Origins · Crysis · The Witcher · Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles · Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare · SimCity Societies · Yahtzee Goes to GDC · Uncharted: Drake's Fortune · Devil May Cry 4 · Burnout: Paradise · Turok · Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
Q2 Army of Two · No More Heroes · Condemned 2: Bloodshot · Super Smash Bros. Brawl · God of War: Chains of Olympus · Mailbag Showdown · Grand Theft Auto IV · Painkiller · The World Ends With You · The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion · Haze · Metal Gear Solid 4
Q3 Webcomics · Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures · Alone in the Dark · Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures · The E3 Trailer Park · Ninja Gaiden II · Prince of Persia Retrospective · Soulcalibur IV · Braid · EVE Online · Too Human · Spore · XBLA Double Bill
Q4 Mercenaries 2: World in Flames · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed · S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky · Silent Hill: Homecoming · Saints Row 2 · Dead Space · Fable II · Fallout 3 · Guitar Hero: World Tour · Mirror's Edge · Left 4 Dead · Sonic Unleashed · The Year in Review - 2008 · Prince of Persia
2009
Q1 Awards for 2008 · Tomb Raider: Underworld · Far Cry 2 · Gears of War 2 · LittleBigPlanet · Thief: The Dark Project · Skate 2 · F.E.A.R. 2 · Spider-Man: Web of Shadows · The House of the Dead: Overkill · 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand · Resident Evil 5
Q2 X-Blades/Halo Wars · Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars · MadWorld · Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X · Siren: Blood Curse · The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena · Valkyria Chronicles · Velvet Assassin · Duke Nukem Forever · Bionic Commando · InFamous · The Second Annual E3 Hype Massacre · Prototype
Q3 The Sims 3 · Ghostbusters: The Video Game · Overlord 2 · Red Faction Guerrilla · Wii Sports Resort · Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood · The Conduit · Silent Hill 2 · 2.5-D Hoedown · Tales of Monkey Island · Wolfenstein · Batman: Arkham Asylum · Beatles Rock Band & Guitar Hero 5 · Darkest of Days
Q4 Scribblenauts · Wet · Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story · Brutal Legend · Washington D.C. · Uncharted 2: Among Thieves · Dragon Age: Origins · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 · Assassin's Creed 2 · Left 4 Dead 2 & New Super Mario Bros. Wii · Demon's Souls · Holiday 2009 · The Saboteur
2010
Q1 Awards for 2009 · Torchlight · Darksiders · Bayonetta · Dark Void · Borderlands · Mass Effect 2 · Dante's Inferno · BioShock 2 · Aliens vs Predator · Heavy Rain · Battlefield: Bad Company 2 · Final Fantasy XIII
Q2 April Fools 2010 · God of War III · Red Steel 2 · Just Cause 2 · Silent Hill: Shattered Memories · Splinter Cell: Conviction · Nier · Dead to Rights: Retribution · Monster Hunter Tri · Alan Wake · Red Dead Redemption · Alpha Protocol · Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands · E3 2010
Q3 No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle · Super Mario Galaxy 2 · Singularity · Crackdown 2 · DeathSpank & Limbo · Shadow of the Colossus · Split Second: Velocity · Transformers: War for Cybertron · Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days · Mafia II · Metroid: Other M · Video Game Voters Network · Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Q4 Halo: Reach · Dead Rising 2 · Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow · Enslaved: Odyssey to the West · Fallout: New Vegas · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II · Call of Duty: Black Ops · IPhone Games · Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood · Splatterhouse · Epic Mickey · Holiday 2010
2011 - 2014
2011
Q1 Top 5 of 2010 · World of Warcraft: Cataclysm · Fable III · Minecraft · A Shadow's Tale · Dead Space 2 · DC Universe Online · MindJack · Two Worlds II · Bulletstorm · Killzone 3 · Kirby's Epic Yarn · Dragon Age II
Q2 Pokémon White · Yakuza 4 · Crysis 2 · Nintendo 3DS · Portal 2 · Castlevania: Symphony of the Night · Mortal Kombat · Brink · L.A. Noire · The Witcher 2 · Hunted: The Demon's Forge · Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time) · InFamous 2
Q3 Alice: Madness Returns · Shadows of the Damned · F.E.A.R. 3 · The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D · Call of Juarez: The Cartel · Bastion and From Dust · Catherine · Red Faction: Armageddon · Deus Ex · Deus Ex: Human Revolution · Driver: San Francisco · Dead Island · Resistance 3
Q4 Gears of War 3 · Hard Reset · Rage · Kinect · Batman: Arkham City · Battlefield 3 · Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 · The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim · Saints Row: The Third · Assassin's Creed: Revelations · The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2012
Q1 Serious Sam 3: BFE · Top 5 of 2011 · Super Mario 3D Land & Rayman Origins · Sonic Generations · Star Wars: The Old Republic · Amy · Resident Evil: Revelations · Darkness 2 · Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning · NeverDead · Syndicate · Mass Effect 3 · Twisted Metal
Q2 Yakuza: Dead Souls · Ninja Gaiden 3 · Silent Hill: Downpour · Kid Icarus: Uprising · Fez and I Am Alive · Prototype 2 · Risen 2: Dark Waters · Sniper Elite V2 · Diablo 3 · Max Payne 3 · Dragon's Dogma · E3 2012 · Lollipop Chainsaw
Q3 Quantum Conundrum · Spec Ops: The Line · Walking Dead · Inversion · The Amazing Spider-Man · Half-Life · Wreckateer and Deadlight · Steam Roundup · Sleeping Dogs · Darksiders 2 · DayZ · Guild Wars 2
Q4 Borderlands 2 · FIFA 13 · Resident Evil 6 · Dishonored · XCOM: Enemy Unknown · Medal of Honor: Warfighter & Doom 3: BFG Edition · Assassin's Creed 3 · Halo 4 · Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 · Hitman: Absolution · Far Cry 3 · ZombiU
2013
Q1 Top 5 of 2012 · Paper Mario: Sticker Star · Black Knight Sword & Hotline Miami · Anarchy Reigns · DMC: Devil May Cry · The Cave · Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch · Dead Space 3 · Aliens: Colonial Marines · Crysis 3 · Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance · Tomb Raider · SimCity
Q2 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct · BioShock Infinite · Lego City Undercover · Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon · Injustice: Gods Among Us · Star Trek · Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon · System Shock 2 · Metro: Last Light · Next Gen Buyer's Guide · Fuse · Remember Me · E3 2013
Q3 The Last of Us · Deadpool · Animal Crossing: New Leaf · Ride to Hell: Retribution · Dark · Mario & Luigi: Dream Team · Rise of the Triad · Papers, Please & Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons · Pikmin 3 · The Bureau: XCOM Declassified · Saints Row 4 · Killer is Dead · Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Q4 Grand Theft Auto V · Lost Planet 3 · Beyond: Two Souls · The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD · Batman: Arkham Origins · Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag · Call of Duty: Ghosts · Exclusives Showdown · Ryse: Son of Rome · Dead Rising 3 · Super Mario 3D World
2014
Q1 Top 5 of 2013 · Knack · Killzone: Shadow Fall · Survival Special · Broken Age · Might & Magic X: Legacy · The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds · Dark Souls · Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII · Strider · Thief · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 · Dark Souls II
Q2 Titanfall · InFamous: Second Son · Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes · The Elder Scrolls Online · South Park: The Stick of Truth · FTL: Faster Than Light · Child of Day-Light · The Amazing Spider-Man 2 · Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure · Wolfenstein: The New Order · WATCH DOGS · E3 2014 · Murdered: Soul Suspect
Q3 Tomodachi Life · Enemy Front & Valiant Hearts: The Great War · Shovel Knight · EarthBound · Transistor · E.T. · Firefall · Sacred 3 · Risen 3: Titan Lords · Daikatana · Lichdom: Battlemage · The Sims 4 · Destiny
Q4 D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die · Hyrule Warriors · Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor · Alien Isolation · The Evil Within · Bayonetta 2 · Sunset Overdrive · Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare · Assassin's Creed: Unity · Far Cry 4 · Dragon Age: Inquisition · Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric · Top 5 Games of 2014
2015 - 2017
2015
Q1 The Talos Principle · Elite: Dangerous · Five Nights at Freddy's and This War of Mine · Lords of the Fallen · Saints Row: Gat out of Hell · Dying Light · Grim Fandango · Evolve · The Order: 1886 · The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D · Resident Evil Revelations 2 · Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number & Ori and the Blind Forest
Q2 Battlefield: Hardline · Bloodborne · Half-Life 2 Update · Axiom Verge & Stealth Inc 2 · Mortal Kombat X · Grand Theft Auto Online · Broken Age: Act 2 · Wolfenstein: The Old Blood · Cyberpunk Double · The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt · Splatoon · Hatred · E3 2015
Q3 Alone in the Dark: Illumination · Batman: Arkham Knight · Yoshi's Woolly World · Cave Story · Godzilla · Rocket League & Tembo the Badass Elephant · King's Quest: A Knight to Remember · Nom Nom Galaxy & Freedom Planet · Everybody's Gone To The Rapture · Volume · Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain · Mad Max · Gears of War Ultimate Edition · Until Dawn
Q4 Super Mario Maker · SOMA · Rock Band 4 · Assassin's Creed Syndicate · Halo 5: Guardians · Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 · Rise of the Tomb Raider · Fallout 4 · Star Wars: Battlefront · Just Cause 3 · Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
2016
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2015 · Devil's Third · Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam · Assassin's Creed Chronicles · Xenoblade Chronicles X · The Witness & Bombshell · Gravity Rush · XCOM 2 · Firewatch & Layers of Fear · Far Cry Primal · Stardew Valley & SUPERHOT · The Division · Salt and Sanctuary
Q2 Republique · Shadow Warrior · Quantum Break · Dark Souls III · Ratchet & Clank · Star Fox Zero · Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door · Uncharted 4: A Thief's End · Doom · Homefront: The Revolution · Overwatch & Battleborn · Mirror's Edge: Catalyst · E3 2016
Q3 Mighty No. 9 · Inside & Shadow of the Beast · The Technomancer · Furi & Song of the Deep · I Am Setsuna · Headlander & Quadrilateral Cowboy · Quake · No Man's Sky · Grow Up · Deus Ex: Mankind Divided · Metroid Prime: Federation Force · The Curious Expedition & Mother Russia Bleeds · ReCore
Q4 Capcom Five · Clustertruck & Lichtspeer · Paper Mario: Color Splash · Mafia III · Gears of War 4 · PlayStation VR · Battlefield 1 · Titanfall 2 vs Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare · Dishonored 2 · WATCH DOGS 2 · Final Fantasy XV · The Last Guardian
2017
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2016 · Let It Die · Dead Rising 4 · Hitman · Gravity Rush 2 · Resident Evil 7 · Yakuza 0 · Nioh · For Honor · Nintendo Switch & Breath of the Wild · Horizon Zero Dawn · Nier Automata

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