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Minecraft Classic Review – Blast From The Past

Sitting serenely atop my tower of grass, I gaze out over the wide open ocean. There is nothing here. No birds cry, no fish leap, and no sun rises or sets over the horizon. All is utter stillness, and everything feels like it was made for me. I let out a contented sigh. Behind me, my friend is leaping carelessly around, frolicking among the grass without a care in the world. Another friend has disconnected and is struggling to retain his connection. It feels like 2009, when times were simpler.


Such are the joys of Minecraft Classic. The original version of everyone’s favorite block-based builder first appeared back in 2009, and current owners Microsoft are celebrating the game’s anniversary in lots of ways. There are press events, giveaways, and – perhaps most generously – the full version of 2009’s Minecraft, available online for free. Who’d have thought Minecraft Classic in the browser would be just as fun as it was on consoles and PC back then?

Minecraft Classic is an altogether different proposition to its modern version. This old-school edition of the game is divested of pretty much all of its bells and whistles. There’s no crafting system, for one thing. Blocks can be mined but they don’t make their way into your inventory when you do. There’s no limit to the amount of blocks you can hold. There are 32 different kinds of blocks on offer, and that’s it. You won’t be able to get any different kinds of blocks from your environment.

In essence, then, Minecraft Classic is about shaping a map and creating what you want to create. In this sense, it’s the purest expression of the absolute essence of Minecraft. True, there’s a video game in the modern version, with monsters to defeat and parameters to be considered. In the end, though, what lasts about Minecraft – what many people think of as the game’s legacy – is its building system. Constructing buildings and architectural marvels in Minecraft is what earns one the big viewer counts, after all.


It’ll please armchair architects to learn that Minecraft Classic still very much offers the opportunity to do this. Despite the limitations, there’s a surprisingly robust and fully-featured video game on display here. From the opening moments to your tenth consecutive hour playing, you’ll be just as absorbed in Minecraft Classic as you are in the modern version if you’re a fan. If this is your first time, we’d actually recommend you start with this one.

Let’s explain Minecraft a bit for those who aren’t familiar with it. Minecraft is an interactive creativity toy that basically features as many or as few mechanics as you want it to. The game provides some bare-bones tools – reshaping landscapes and building using blocks – then leaves the rest up to players. Minecraft started something of a revolution back in 2009 when it came out, so its reputation precedes it somewhat, especially the Classic version.


Happily, that reputation survives the Classic transition pretty much entirely intact. There’s still so much of Minecraft in here that it’s pretty much impossible not to have fun with Minecraft Classic. Those beautiful, serene visuals are still in place, complete with endlessly blue skies and nary a Creeper in sight. The sound design is suitably ambient and slow-paced, allowing for a great deal of rumination and reflection. The gameplay is soft, quiet, and gentle, making Minecraft Classic the perfect winding-down game.

There’s still excitement to be had here, though. Contrary to its modern sibling, most of the joy in Minecraft Classic comes from construction and reshaping the land to one’s whims. There’s something terribly addictive about creating a landscape that you have personally overseen; randomly generating biomes is great and all, but when you take a step back and look at the vast fortress you have created, there are few feelings to match the sense of pride and achievement that fills you.

Such a feat is still completely possible in Minecraft Classic, too. You’ve got 32 blocks to play with of varying textures and colors. A couple of these are flowers or other adornments, but for the most part it’s cubes all the way down. As such, the building element of Minecraft makes it into Classic wholly intact. You can still construct a doom fortress the likes of which the gods themselves would fall down and worship, or you can make a nice little house on the prairie.

Of course, without modern adornments, you won’t be able to add actual windows, or signs explaining to trespassers that they probably don’t want to come anywhere near your property. Still, Minecraft Classic’s limitations work for it just as much as against it. If you’re looking for the fully-featured Minecraft of today, you obviously won’t find it in this Classic iteration. If, however, you’re simply looking for a nice way to pass the time and to experience a slice of gaming history, look no further than Minecraft Classic.


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