You can play Minecraft on just about anything. There are versions of the crafting / survival game on consoles, smartphones, and PC. You can even play it in virtual reality. Each version of the game offers something slightly different; the mobile editions are slimmed down but portable, while on PC and console you have a much bigger, more feature-rich world to explore. But, six years after the game first debuted, Minecraft may have finally found its ideal platform: the Nintendo Switch.
One of the strongest selling points for the Switch is its hybrid nature. It’s not as powerful as competitors from Sony or Microsoft, but Switch is a device that straddles the line between a console and a portable. You can play it on the TV in your living room, or on the train to work. As I’ve written before, this flexibility makes the Switch ideally suited for a huge range of games. It’s much easier to get through a sprawling open world like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild when you can take it anywhere, and even smaller titles like Puyo Puyo Tetris benefit from the option.
Much like Zelda’s Hyrule, the worlds you can create and explore in Minecraft are vast and filled with secrets. When I first booted up the game on Switch, I spent some time just walking around the pre-built Super Mario world. There are warp pipes to slide down, underground caverns to trek through, and smack in the middle is a towering statue of Mario himself. After that, I hopped in a similarly prefab world based on the game’s Chinese mythology content pack, where I was able to hang out in a lovely garden and get up close with a giant dragon. Before I knew it, several hours had gone by, and I hadn’t crafted a single thing.
Minecraft is a game that works in both short sessions and lengthier ones. Once you get over exploring, you can spend hours (or days or more) creating complex new structures. Or you can spend 15 minutes mining for useful resources. And because of the customized nature of the game — where you and friends can literally build and design the world around you — it’s an experience you get very attached to. When you spend a few weeks perfecting an in-game castle, you’ll want to take it with you.
There have been a few stabs at cross-device play in Minecraft before. The multiplayer subscription service Minecraft Realms, for instance, lets people play together across both the PC version of the game and the mobile “Pocket” edition. But what makes the Switch work so well — not only for Minecraft, but many other games — is how seamless it is. You aren’t playing the game across devices; you’re using a device that works across a wide range of situations. There’s no fussing around with cloud saves or profile logins. The game is there, and it’s up to you to decide how, or where, you want to play it.
That’s not to say that the Switch version of Minecraft is perfect. Like all of its console counterparts, it doesn’t support the robust mod scene on PC, and because of the comparatively underpowered hardware, its worlds are somewhat smaller than on other platforms. But the Switch version also offers something no other platform can. (And I don’t just mean the ability to craft your own Mushroom Kingdom.) It’s a virtual world that fits into your life in the real one.
Minecraft is available on the Nintendo Switch today.