Minecraft Pocket Edition Hits Android App Store, Your Thumbs Cower in Fear

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A bit of tree punching, on the PC version of Minecraft

So, Minecraft. Or more specifically, Minecraft in your pocket: the long awaited (since it was announced at the end of May, at least) Minecraft Pocket Edition is now up for grabs -- provided you've got $6.99 to spare, and you're one of the folks who picked up Sony's Xperia Play.

The rest of the Android army will have their time in the sun once this timed exclusivity deal has run its course, though there's no word on when. Also missing is word on when the game might grace Apple's iOS gadgets.

We're all familiar with this one by now, right? A primer, for those who've yet to tear down their first block-tree with their bare block-fists: Minecraft plops you down into a randomly generated world o' blocks, in naught but your skin. Punch a tree a few times, and you'll get a block of wood. Combine several blocks of wood and you'll get a workbench, which will allow you to break the aforementioned blocks of wood down into sticks. Combine sticks with blocks of wood just so, and you can make an axe, or a shovel, a sword, or a pick.

Picks excel at crunching through stone -- gather some stone, or iron, or diamonds, and you can make a better pick, which will churn through stone faster. Mine stone and ores to build better gear or -- here's where the "craft" comes in -- build stuff. What sort of stuff? Say, the ALU section of a 16bit processor. Or a charmingly complex demolition machine.

Or, in the case of the PCWorld slackers who inhabit the multiplayer server I set up, some anemic looking huts and a road to nowhere.

Minecraft Pocket Edition will feature little of this, to start. Following in the vein of its PC/Mac/Linux-based sibling, Minecraft PE will be an Alpha 0.1 release, limited to Create mode, wherein players spawn blocks (36 to choose from!) out of thin air, and place them wherever they'd like. There'll also be an opportunity for group-crafting, by way of local wireless play. But to be honest, I don't see that taking off until the game is available on multiple phones -- unless of course the Xperia Play is doing gangbusters, and no one told me.

I gave the Pocket Edition a go at E3 back in June, and it works. The Xperia Play's thumb pads weren't exactly ideal, but the game itself ran at a steady clip, and was true to the spirit of its beefier sibling. That said, I've always found Create mode a bit... lacking. You aren't really spelunking without a pack of spider-mounted skeletons on your tail.

If you're an Xperia Play owner, grab the game over at the Android Market. The rest of us should just be patient -- I'm sure the folks at Mojang will be addressing our needs momentarily.

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