Minecraft PS Vita Review: A good adaptation with a major flaw

Can there be too much of a good thing? The presence of Minecraft on the PlayStation Vita has the appeal of a fully-realized and hostile LEGO world that doesn’t need to be cleaned up after you finish playing with it, and even better still is the portability of it all. Throughout the years, Minecraft has been known to experience horrendous, drive-blocking glitches, and while most of those issues have revolved around the overall scope of the game expanding with newer versions, this portable version suffers differently.

Going in, I knew that the PS Vita edition of Minecraft would feature the same size world of which gamers partook on the PlayStation 3, but what caught me off guard was that, even though the smallest available world size for the PlayStation 4 was available on the PS3, the scope of the world feels stupendous and elongated on Sony’s handheld. This notion really takes center stage, leaving a sense of fulfillment that only mimics exploring off the map while in bigger worlds on bigger editions of Minecraft. The end result makes for yet another reason to jump into Minecraft in yet another way; owners of the PS3 digital version will get this for free anyway–but PS4 owners will have to cough up the $19.99.

Menu navigation has a major hands-on appeal to it. While the menu can be explored the old fashioned way with the D-Pad like normal, the PS Vita’s touchscreen allows for at-your-fingertips access to the inventory screen as well as the quick menu at the bottom of the screen, making a swap between a pickaxe and a sword as simple as a screen press. While the touch support may not appeal to everyone, it doesn’t replace the traditional methods outright; but it can.

While the presentation and execution of the game remains generally the same, apart from a few hardware differentials, the presence of a constantly fluctuating frame rate is immediate, and while the game flow is never slowed down past a functional point, the topsy-turvy deliverance leaves a bit to be desired. Granted, playing the game is still surprisingly clean, but the limits of the hardware are realized almost as soon as the game loads. It’s necessary to mention that this Minecraft’s frame rate range never goes any higher or lower than it does at the beginning of the game. This means that the simple act of digging and fighting the Ender Dragon yield the same visual result, so the compromises made to make this edition work so well don’t compromise the end product.

Local friends and family have the opportunity here to play in AdHoc mode instead of having to rely on the PlayStation Network to play together; this mode can be swapped at the main menu. Though this requires each person to have the game, it doesn’t require an internet connection to play together locally.

Much like all good things, there’s most definitely a "but" here: error code C2-12828-1. Anyone who has played the PS Vita has seen that error code at some point, indicating that the game has crashed. After creating a game session or even downloading a PS3 save from the cloud, the world loads properly and the game plays as indicated above. However, after closing the Minecraft application, trying to load up the save later locked up the game and crashes it. The same thing takes place after swapping between AdHoc and PSN. Ultimately, for now, the only way to continue playing the same save is to not close the Minecraft application; please note that this issue was observed on two different and original OLED PS Vitas with two separate accounts.

While the PS Vita Edition of Minecraft delivers everything that makes the game appealing, the save crashes are nothing less than a deal breaker at this point. Fortunately, the teams behind the game have been more than adamant when patching the early issues in previous editions, but that point doesn’t make this existing issue any less relevant. For now, the best bet is to stay with the other editions until a patch has released, even if the game works incredibly when it works.



The Final Word

The PS Vita Edition of Minecraft plays well on limited hardware and includes touchscreen support, but one glaring issue keeps it from being a must-buy on Sony’s handheld.