Mojang's Minecraft, a small indie title that has become a pop culture phenomenon, would seem like a perfect fit for Nintendo platforms, with a large sense of wonder and creative gameplay. Unfortunately, Nintendo is the only major gaming platform without a version of the venerable franchise. At first glance, Wobbly Tooth Games' Battleminer appears to be a low-budget Minecraft clone, but quickly proves to be something simpler and less compelling. A competent but bland exploration/action game, Battleminer will quickly be forgotten about once players realize that they've seen everything the game has to offer after only a few hours.
Battleminer's two modes, Survival and Creative, contain the same play mechanics but utilize them in different ways. Survival tasks the player with finding survivors in a massive, procedurally generated landscape, killing giant ants and crafting new tools. Killing all of the ants around a survivor will reward the player with new crafting recipes, more ammo for weapons and healing items. The player must mine the land for resources to use in crafting, and various resources require different tools; as better resources are earned it becomes possible to craft stronger items.
This mode, as a whole, is extremely repetitive. The large open world would be exciting to explore if it wasn't completely devoid of life or activity outside of the ants and survivors, and the crafting system is limited and underdeveloped; players will unlock all of the recipes in just a few hours, and by then most will likely be bored of walking between areas. Survivors all look alike and have the same voice, which makes the game feel like an existential nightmare in which you're doomed to repeat your actions over and over again for eternity.
Creative mode is similarly limited, but at least affords more freedom to play. This is where fans of Minecraft will likely spend most of their time, choosing from lots of colours and blocks to build whatever they can imagine; the game's Miiverse community appears to be active and enjoying this mode. At the same time, though, there's only so much that can be created with Battleminer's small library of items and resources.
The combat, which is limited to killer ants, is flawed due to the first-person perspective. Though it utilises the Circle Pad, it's frustrating to walk and aim with A, B, X, and Y at the same time, leading to cheap deaths. Controls in general don't feel intuitive; it's difficult to jump up and reach survivors that are stranded on elevated towers if you don't have objects to place vertically, for example - luckily, wood, dirt, and other resources can be stacked. The visuals are muddy and bland, meanwhile, coming off as Minecraft without any of the colourful charm, while the music - a sweeping adventure score - is out of place and awkward as a result.
Battleminer is a simple game that is likely going to disappoint those anticipating a larger, more fulfilling experience. While there is some fun to be had, a purchase is only recommended for creative players who can turn straw to gold - otherwise, stick with a portable version of Minecraft.