Here’s a list of things to make you feel old in 2019. Barack Obama began his first time as US president in 2009. “Kryptonite” by 3 Doors Down is 19 years old this year, as is Britney Spears’ “Oops!… I Did It Again”. Everyone who’s graduating high school this year was not born in the 1990s, and Friends ended 15 years ago. Ended, not started. Feeling ancient yet?
Also celebrating its tenth anniversary this year is Notch and Mojang’s block-tacular building bricks game Minecraft. Of course, Minecraft was actually released for real in 2011, but the first version of the game appeared on the TIGSource forums way back in May 2009. In celebration of ten years of blocky goodness, Microsoft and Mojang have decided to revisit this early edition of their beloved game and released Minecraft Classic.
So what does Minecraft Classic offer to the casual observer? Well, for a start, you can play Minecraft Classic in your browser entirely for free. That’s right; you won’t need to fork over any of your hard-earned cash to play this version of Minecraft. Of course, there are some trade-offs as a result, but it’s hard not to see a free version of even basic Minecraft and jump for joy.
If you’re unfamiliar with Minecraft, here’s a quick primer. Minecraft is…actually quite hard to categorize. On the surface, it’s a sandbox-style creative tool rather than an actual game, and that’s even more true of the classic edition. There aren’t any objectives here, so if you’re a goal-oriented sort who likes to know what they’re doing at any given time, this may not be the game for you.
If you’re someone who likes to take it a little more slowly and chill out, though, Minecraft Classic is definitely the game for you, perhaps even more so than its modern equivalent. There are plenty of distractions in Minecraft New, but here it’s just you, a vast expanse of fields and caves, and a set of building blocks to help you construct your very own silent village.
Minecraft Classic doesn’t have even a tenth of the features of the modern game. There’s no Survival mode, so you won’t be able to defend your house against the horrors of Creepers and other creepy-crawlies. There’s no customizable skin bank or tile sets, meaning if you want to live anywhere other than a field you’re out of luck. There are also no wild animals cavorting around or NPC characters to populate your world.
It’s probably best to think of Minecraft Classic as more of a project than an out-and-out video game experience. If you can kick back and create something for yourself to do, then Minecraft Classic will deliver for you in spades. The beautiful serenity and sedate feel of the new Minecraft is still here, thanks in large part to C418’s lovely synth-wash soundtrack.
There’s also multiplayer, and this is where Minecraft Classic gets interesting. Wandering around the procedurally-generated worlds by yourself is all well and good, but – like most things – it gets better once you invite some friends. The way you do this is adorably old-school; you need to copy and paste a link which your friends can then click to join your server.
Creating entire villages then callously destroying them with your chums is tremendous fun, and you’ll probably be trolling and griefing each other in Minecraft Classic far more than you actually do something useful together. If, though, you can manage to work together for a few glorious hours, the results can be impressive indeed, for Minecraft Classic can still wow you despite its clear age.
The 32 building blocks you’re given here can still be used to create wondrous and beautiful things. Visually, Minecraft is still as much of a treat as it is today, and although it’s undeniable that more bells and whistles have been added since the 2009 release, the DNA of Minecraft is still very much visible. You can still build and create buildings with varied textures, and you can still hollow out lands for your own ends.
Essentially, this means you’re still as empowered to create the landscapes and townships you always could in Minecraft, just with a more limited visual palette. It’s not really possible to build something as complex as the railways and working machinery some people have created in the full release, but the amount of stuff you are capable of doing here is pretty astonishing given Minecraft Classic’s origin.
All in all, it’s still well worth visiting this slightly long in the tooth version of a classic game. Minecraft isn’t the most played game in the world for nothing, and if you spend a little time with Minecraft Classic (free in your browser, remember) you’ll discover a simple joy that might even be missing from Minecraft Modern. Boot up your old 2009 PC and discover where it all began.