Any classics-nerds want a side-scrolling Minecraft?
I'll be honest upfront: I've had issues with "build-it-yourself" stuff. I could build towers with Legos, I could build a cabin out of Lincoln Logs (remember those?), but I was never any good at building more complex things. Much as I love Sim City, I'm simply not good at it. I've avoided Minecraft for that very same reason.
But with Terraria, it's a bit easier for me. There is no objective, at least no end-goal: Players collect supplies, then forge them and build better materials with which to build new things. It's all streamlined, like any other building title. First, starting with your sword, pickaxe, and ax, you can survive and gather materials to build a workbench. You can use the workbench to combine some elements to make a forge, then use the forge to turn that iron or copper ore you found into bar form so it can be used to weld new tools, which can create new building materials and new weapons…. Yeah, you get the gist of it.
The game is extremely sandbox-y, with enemies dotting the randomly generated landscapes both above and below the ground's surface. Starting off, the game is about survival; you can start digging downward with your entry-level tools and wall yourself away from the nighttime predators—which come in full-force early on—or you can take your chances and dampen the blade of your sword with the blood of the demons and zombies that crawl around in the darkness. Which will easily kill you in that first night. But you can try, and it's effort that counts when there's an infinite-life option.
You're even afforded a guide to hang out with in each new world you create and explore, which is extremely helpful in figuring out the proper processes and controls from the get-go. Mine ran straight into a zombie horde early on and I had to fend for myself, until I decided to just start over. Stupid jerk zombies and flying demon eyes, all trying to kill me and my guide. Leave Craig alone!
Visually, Terraria is somewhere between Half-Minute Hero and SNES sprites, making it even more evident that the game is an old-school take on Minecraft. This is fine since, aside for the occasional slowdown in loading for areas, the animation and flow of exploration/building is smooth as a baby's pixelated butt. What I really enjoy is the shift between night and day: Should you take the time to wall yourself into a corner, you can actually watch both the sun and the moon move through the sky, and the monsters from the darkness appear and disappear with the change of light. The music changes too, designed to help you figure out if it's day or night when you're underground and far away from "natural" light sources, but it's the same two generic background tracks over and over again. Not bad, but not notably good either.
Thankfully, with tight-enough mechanics and and an open-enough world, there's something amusing for everyone here. For explorer types (like myself) I can upgrade my equipment and dig deeper faster, defeat enemies quicker, and keep expanding the map to show where I've been. If that gets boring, I can start building rooms and houses, apartment buildings, attract people to towns I've set up, and unlock even better building equipment. The world is your oyster, and it's got a different color pearl for whatever's up your alley.
One feature with potential, as in Minecraft, is playing online in the world someone else has created. Sadly I wasn't able to test this out, since every time I would go into the option to join a game it would just search and search for what felt like forever without finding anyone's world. It might be because every world is made "invite only," or that nobody else is playing and sharing their world online, but I simply couldn't get a game going. So I have no clue just how many players it can actually support in co-op or PvP play.
The interface, namely moving items around and assigning helpful items to the D-pad, is logical but a little irritating. There are a few menus and extra button presses that take time getting used to, and that can be bad should you leave yourself open (the game keeps moving on behind the inventory screens and item assigning spots). I've had a few too many close calls when there's a menu on front of me, blocking my character's assault from a renegade slime. Aside from that and the lagging-loading moments between day and night, there really isn't anything I could find "wrong" with this game… but then again, it's more of a sim than a "game" in the first place.
Not gonna stop me from digging as deep as I can.