It's a rather unfortunate reality that Minecraft has never made it to Nintendo platforms. The multi-billion dollar franchise has reached millions of people all over the world in the course of its run and it would seem to be a good fit for Nintendo platforms given its extremely approachable, yet deep gameplay. Alas, even after being ported to nearly every other game-capable device, there are no indications of Minecraft coming to Nintendo platforms any time in the foreseeable future. Enter Cube Creator 3D, an indie title that aims to fill the void left by that absence. While Cube Creator 3D is no substitute for the real deal, it manages to do enough to properly capture the spirit of block-based world building, and delivers a satisfying product as a result.
For those of you that have been living in a dark cave for the past five years, the gameplay of Survival mode is quite simple. The entire world is composed of various cubes and is explored from a first person perspective; animals such as cows and pigs roam free, as well as more dangerous creatures like mummies and orcs. The point is simply to establish dominance over the environment and to rise above the dangers that permeate it. There is no end goal, no "winning" the game from a conventional perspective; you can do as you please, whether that be hunting bears for hours, digging massive tunnel systems in search of diamonds, or building a magnificent castle. It's a concept that may sound uninteresting at first, but it can be incredibly addictive as you learn the ropes.
Whatever it is each player chooses to do, the crafting system will play a pivotal role in fulfilling that goal. You start out with punching being the only option for breaking blocks; anything can be broken given enough time, but it's significantly faster if tools are used, such as pickaxes, swords, and shovels. Crafting does not require a crafting table or anything of the sort, it's simply a tab that can be accessed at any time on the bottom screen. Upon selecting it, you can tap the icon of the item that you would like and a list will be brought up of the materials needed; if the materials are on hand a tap of the "Craft" button will make that tool. It's simple and it works quite well, though there aren't a significant number of items that can be crafted.
The worlds are also fairly modest; they're just big enough that they don't feel cramped, but just small enough that they left us wanting a bit more. When a world is generated, it uses one of four "Biomes" as a template: Forest, Desert, Mountain, and Snow. However, a couple of minutes of walking will take you from one side of the map to the other, though this could possibly be a restriction from the 3DS' humble hardware. The modest world size is alleviated somewhat when you're able to craft a world portal, which enables you to visit the other three biomes and effectively quadruples the total amount of explorable land. Still, it can feel a bit stifling when met with an infinite void every time you reach the boundary of the map, which is quite often.
The controls take a bit of getting used to, meanwhile, but are solid overall. Items are selected on the touch screen, the L button is used for jumping, the R button is used for performing actions, the Circle Pad moves the camera and the face buttons move the character. While it may feel a bit awkward at first having to tap icons on the screen every time you want to switch the held item, it's not a big issue and quickly becomes second nature. It's a mystery as to why the default setup is the 'lefty' control scheme, but a quick trip to the settings menu allows you to invert the functions of the face buttons and Circle Pad, and to make any other minor changes to the controls or camera. Speaking of the camera, many will be glad to hear that the Circle Pad Pro and New Nintendo 3DS C-stick are supported, which allow for far greater precision in camera control when using the Circle Pad for movement.
There's also a creative mode for when players grow tired of survival or just feel like building. Unlike survival mode's one save slot, creative mode has eight, allowing for there to be a decent amount of diversity in what can be accomplished and how many projects one can have. The rules are mostly the same as survival, though there are no enemies in the environment and you can fly at any time by holding the jump button. There's access to infinite amounts of whatever blocks are needed, it's all just a few taps away in the inventory. While it may not be deep enough for people to be building functioning computers and other incredible engineering or architectural feats, it's still a fun diversion just for building giant sculptures and experimenting.
Make no mistake about it, Cube Creator 3D is not just a forgettable rip-off of Minecraft. While it certainly does not approach the level of depth of that source, Cube Creator 3D's simple presentation offers enough that it successfully manages to capture the adventurous spirit that made its inspiration such a runaway success. As its own experience, Cube Creator 3D stands up well as an entertaining game.