It's difficult to describe the appeal of a game such as Minecraft: Wii U Edition. Though there is technically an 'end' to it, the whole experience isn't really about anything. You can explore caves. You can build houses. You can fight mobs in the night. You can farm crops and animals. On the surface, Minecraft seems like a simple game that one would grow bored of quickly, but the freeform nature of its gameplay structure makes it an extremely compelling experience that's tough to put down.

For the dozen of you that have somehow managed to go this long without it, here's a brief explanation. You take control of an anonymous player (referred to by some as 'Steve') and explore a randomly generated world comprised entirely of blocks. There are two primary modes here, Creative and Survival. In Survival Mode you have a health gauge and hunger gauge, and the goal is to collect materials and simply survive for as long as possible. In Creative Mode, all difficulty is stripped away, you can fly, and you're given unlimited access to an infinite amount of materials. The point of this mode is to give players that just want to build fantastic structures an option to do so unhindered. Your mileage in either mode may vary depending on what kind of gamer you are, but there's definitely something here for everybody. Suffice to say, both modes are simple enough, yet have a pleasing amount of depth.

Survival Mode is arguably where you'll be spending most of your time, as it provides a surprisingly in-depth adventure. Multiple difficulty levels will scale enemy spawn rates and health regeneration accordingly, and it does a good job of conveying the theme of man vs. nature. You'll struggle with starvation, constantly be on the lookout for Creepers and other baddies, and get lost in caves or mountains more times than you can count, but the feeling of overcoming the odds is unparalleled. The more you play, the more you'll come to understand the intricacies of the various mechanics, and the game does a good job of explaining things as you come across them.

Creative Mode is an excellent addition for players that just want to fool around, and it can offer a nice break from survival. If you can imagine it, you can probably build it, and the limitless access to tools allows you to do it however you please. It really is remarkable what people have managed to achieve with this in other versions of the game, with projects ranging from a scale recreation of the Kanto region from Pokémon, to a functioning computer hard drive. While it may be that the Wii U worlds are not actually limitless (apparently 864x864 blocks), they do not feel cramped by any means and provide more than enough space for either adventuring or creating.

In terms of how the game controls, everything is as intuitive as it could possibly be using a controller. Initially there's a bit of a learning curve (and this writer had difficulty adjusting to 'A' as the jump button rather than 'X', like Splatoon), but there's not much to complain about once you get the hang of it. Of course, it would be much easier if the inventory and various other menu screens could be navigated using the Wii U's GamePad, but it's certainly not a deal-breaker.

Of course, co-op is a prominent feature and it really does add another satisfying layer to the game. The Wii U Pro Controller is a supported option for local friends, and the screen is fortunately divided horizontally rather than vertically. We didn't notice any kind of performance dips in our co-op session, everything still runs just as smoothly as solo. Working with a like-minded friend can add a lot when you collaborate to work towards a mutual goal, and we'd very much suggest you invite friends to join you.

As for what this version offers over all the others that are already available for other platforms, there's not anything that particularly stands out. Though there's some Nintendo-exclusive DLC planned, none of this is available as of time of writing. The game runs at a smooth framerate, draw distance isn't too short, and this is very much a well rounded Minecraft experience. There are some texture packs that come bundled with the game that will alter the way various objects will appear, but this is purely cosmetic and you can find similar ones for the PC. Of course, Off-TV Play is featured, but that's hardly reason enough to drop money on the game again if you already have it.

Conclusion

All in all, Mojang has done a wonderful job of porting the full Minecraft experience over to the Wii U. A game such as this feels right at home on the system, it's just a pity that it didn't arrive sooner. The open-ended nature of the gameplay means that virtually endless hours of fun are possible, and it can be tough to put it down once it's really gotten its hooks in you. That being said, there's little here to justify a double dip; world size aside, it's pretty much the same experience you'll find elsewhere. We'd definitely recommend Minecraft: Wii U Edition on its own merits, but if you've already bought it or played it on another platform think carefully before you buy it again.