At this point it's hard for Minecraft to get any bigger than it already is, having become a cultural phenomenon before it even officially released. When a game gets that big it either starts to die or starts to expand, and if you're familiar with the game's creator Markus 'Notch' Persson, then you know the latter is far more likely. Now that he's got a bit of free time on his hands, Notch has created a scaled-down, 'Zelda-ish' version of his cubic masterpiece for an online gaming competition. It is called Minicraft, and you can play it right now.
It's important to note that Minicraft has no connections to developer Mojang or Minecraft officially, so those of you hoping to see the game follow in the footsteps of its predecessor - or perhaps be Notch's mysterious next project - are getting ahead of yourselves. The game was created for this month's Ludum Dare, a semi-annual gaming competition that challenges amateur and professional designers to create a game built around a single theme, all within 48 hours. This year's theme was 'Alone', and while some might argue that other entrants explored ideas of isolation and loneliness a bit more deeply, Minicraft beautifully blends old-school nostalgia with the fundamentals of Minecraft.
Minicraft is an incarnation of Minecraft in spirit alone, placing a player within a world of trees and creepers. The goal of the game? Find the Air Wizard, and kill him. The amount of time the player survives in the world and the number of creepers and resources pulverized provides the overall score, but without online functionality the numbers are just for the player's reference. While it may not be as creative or cooperative as Notch's last creation, there's no doubt fans will find something to love about Minicraft.
Aside from being a trip down memory lane, Minicraft illustrates the massive potential that the basic crafting-and-mining elements could have on other platforms and with different aesthetics. Minecraft has already found great success on mobile devices, is expected to come to the Xbox 360 sometime soon, and some fans are already dreaming of directions the game can take next. It's hard to say just when the gaming world's love for Notch will wane, but if this 2D game is the result of less than 48 hours' work, who knows what's next?
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