2017 is almost over and Minecraft is still one of the most popular gaming trends today. It’s as everywhere as it has been for the past few years, and releases under its name continue to see the light of day. These include the second season of Minecraft: Story Mode and the Nintendo Switch and New 3DS versions of Minecraft itself. Yes, I said “New 3DS”. After all these years, there still couldn’t be a proper release of the game for all 3DS models. Not helping this is that what the New 3DS got was a heavily neutered version, as it was stripped of multiplayer among other things. So what could 3DS owners get to settle with to curb their Minecraft cravings? Well, I’m thinking Battleminerz could be of consideration.

Graphics

Obviously, a game styled like Minecraft isn’t going to have realistic-looking graphics; it very much follows in the same 3D faux-pixelated environments that Mojang’s flagship title boasts. The player character is a lot different, but in a way I think actually makes him/her more appealing (the face actually looks like a face, for one thing). What is legitimately impressive about Battleminerz from a visual standpoint is how much it does with it. The world is incredibly open with no end in sight, and the draw distance is remarkably clear for something not deemed possible to handle on the nearly seven-year-old 3DS.

Audio

As far as audio is concerned, the effects in Battleminerz work well enough for the atmosphere. There’s peaceful music that plays during the daytime, and when night occurs, there’s nothing but potential zombie moans. Softer sounds can be heard when mining affecting terrain in any way. If any obnoxious sounds happen, it could be because multiple people are heard firing guns or using explosive devices constantly. It probably wouldn’t hurt to tell them to stop, though (unless if you’re playing the Battle mode, anyway).

Battleminerz not only has a slightly limited keyboard for texting, but you can even use the 3DS’s mic to voice chat! Yes – There’s voice chatting in a 3DS game, let alone a budget indie Minecraft clone! It’s so unheard of to me, but the fact that it’s there is amazing. You can talk to anybody, whether they be friends or strangers. The only hurdle here is that, as with any online game, there may be some age gaps between people that may play in the same server as you (which could lead to hearing a pre-teen or two mindlessly cursing at their 3DS’s). Look past that, though, and you’ve got a fantastic communication tool for interacting with other players.

Gameplay

At its core, Battleminerz is a Minecraft clone. Although single-player modes are present, the multiplayer features are where the title shines. What you can do in Minecraft, you likely can do here as well. In the wide-open grasslands the game is set in, you can tear up the ground, mine for materials to craft tools and bricks, and/or build structures to your heart’s content. It’s very cool to see what could be done in the game; I’ve seen players build things from castles to recreations of video game sprites. There are checklists you can fill out to achieve Miner, Farmer, and Adventurer badges. Yet nothing pushes you to go for any of them; the game lets you do whatever you decide to do. They are there in case players want to complete established objectives, though.

If that weren’t enough, there’s the Battle mode, which essentially is what the “Battle” in Battleminerz is. How do you make such a mode out of Minecraft, you may ask? By turning the game into a first-person shooter, of course! There are guns you can craft in the other modes, but they are mainly for killing zombies since you can’t harm other players. Here, though? It’s a free-for-all and the chaos is as mindlessly fun as it could get. However, it does highlight some of the control issues in Battleminerz; it’s awkward to look around/aim by using the ABXY buttons as a poor man’s second analog stick. And when you try to collect anything from chests, you have to manually drag the items into your inventory, which can be frustrating to do when you’re desperately trying to avoid being gunned down.

Verdict

Still, it’s hard to ignore the effort put into making Battleminerz a suitable void filler for those that want Minecraft on the original 3DS. The vast, open world is ripe for exploration and discovery, and the degree players can interact is fascinating for an indie title on the platform. It arguably does even more than the actual Minecraft accomplishes on New 3DS. Some aspects such as the controls are more on the iffy side when it comes to certain actions, but I still wholeheartedly recommend Battleminerz as the multiplayer sandbox/party FPS hybrid it is.