A few days ago Minecraft Pi Edition hit the web as a free download from Mojang. This is a new version of Minecraft that runs specially on the Raspberry Pi, the $25 mini computer that can connect to your TV. Teaming up with the Raspberry Pi Foundation, Mojang created a new version of Minecraft based on the code for Pocket Edition. Even though it’s still in alpha and will be receiving updates, is it even worth the time of setting up? Join us as we review Minecraft Pi Edition.
When you open Minecraft Pi edition you are welcomed by a screen with two buttons – start or join a game. When you click Start Game, a new world will instantly start generating (we couldn’t find any options for keeping multiple worlds). The appearance of the game is similar to Minecraft Pocket 0.5.0; foggy with no clouds and no dynamic lighting. Nevertheless, I could still get more than 40 FPS on my Pi – even though I was playing at a 1920×1080 resolution on my HDTV. World generation seemed close to Pocket Edition’s, with hills, valleys, mountains, and biomes. The only major feature missing in this version was survival worlds, which are sure to come in the near future. Controls were virtually the same as the PC edition, with WSAD + mouse controlling the player, E opening the inventory, ESC pausing the game, etc.
Minecraft Pi Edition supports all blocks in Minecraft Pocket 0.6.0. Marble, beds, ores, chests, everything. Most interactive functionality is missing however, as crafting tables, furnaces, chests, and signs could not be interacted with. To place blocks in your inventory, press ‘E’ then use the WSAD keys to move your cursor to whatever block you would like and press Enter. In this area I feel much could be improved, and hopefully Mojang can put the craft in Minecraft Pi Edition.
This was one aspect that greatly surprised me in the game. The Raspberry Pi Model B (the $35 model) has an Ethernet port on the board, giving it access to the internet through a wired connection. There is no wifi chip on the Pi itself, but you can use Wifi USB dongles as well. I connected one end of the Ethernet cable to my Wifi base station (an Airport Express for those wondering) and the other to my Pi. This allowed the Pi to access all devices on my Wifi network. I loaded a creative world on my Android tablet running Minecraft Pocket Edition, and opened Minecraft on the Pi. I clicked Join Game on the Pi and my tablet showed up as a server. I was able to join my tablet’s world with no issues (the Pi’s default name is StevePi, with no way to change it). Overall, multiplayer works perfect with Minecraft PE clients but I could not test it with other Pi’s as I only have one.
To go bug hunting I set my brother up with Minecraft on the Raspberry Pi and he joined my world on my tablet. First major bug is that there seems to be no way of releasing an arrow from a bow. Another is that fullscreen is a bit glitchy, as the mouse no longer works and you must use WSAD to navigate the inventory screen. I noticed that occasionally my player would magically gain the noclip ability and fly through blocks. This did not seem to apply to certain blocks, but I did float through dirt and logs a few times.
Minecraft Pi Edition is the fourth ‘edition’ of Minecraft to date, and it has a lot of catching up to do. Currently is is comparable to the first versions of Minecraft PE – it has no sleeping, survival, crafting, or smelting abilites. It does however have great multiplayer support, and since Raspberry Pis are inexpensive they could be used to host LAN parties at a low cost. Overall the game has a lot of promise for gamers and programmers alike – let’s see how long it takes to hack texture packs in
P.S. – Right after I finished this review I installed the DokuCraft texture pack on it and it looks epic.