I’ve a confession to make – I’m one of those who’ve never played Minecraft.  We do exist, at least according to my very informal Twitter poll.  So apologies to those wanting many comparisons, as I’m mainly going off videos.  On its own merits though, Battleminer is a great game!

The open-world setup allows for two distinct modes of gameplay.  Creative mode focuses on building, and I’ll touch on it shortly.  Survival mode meanwhile is a tense affair that has you trying to rescue survivors from mutant, radioactive ants!  Once freed, survivors share resources and educate you in crafting new, helpful items.

The fighting has a risk/reward element.  The danger of close combat is dying with an equipped weapon in hand, which will then be lost.  A bonus however is that it’s much easier hitting targets and collecting materials from the variety off fallen ants.  It won’t be long until simple bullets no longer do in eliminating them, and you’ll need armor-piercing, grenades, or other weapons.  And the early strategy of picking ants off from distances weakens once they begin firing projectiles and charging you!  Ants also wander about at night to distract and make you waste precious supplies, but they’re primarily clustered near survivors.   Rescuing survivors can be challenging, but not for the controls …

Though not perfect, control is comfortable and intuitive.  First person games on 3DS make me hesitant, but moving the analog stick while panning your sights with the buttons feels natural and works well.  The touchscreen control however could use some tweaks.  Having to drag inventory icons to the backpack just to identify them seems a needless step – why does a simple tap not suffice?  Considering how many types of sepia tone blocks there are, you’ll probably be doing this with some frequency.  For whatever reasons certain materials aren’t identified when you line up to mine them either – why the inconsistencies?  Lastly, the menu icons themselves are a bit tiny so I suggest playing on an XL if possible.  Nevertheless mining materials to build and craft is both fun and challenging.  You can get in a pickle by exhausting resources so planning ahead is necessary.   As durability ratings of items drop you’ll need to prioritize and show caution with rarer materials.

Creative mode took a backseat to my play time compared with Survival, yet I could still see the appeal.  Feature wise there’s obviously less in this budget download compared to Minecraft’s many versions, but what is here is good.  The ease of use and unlimited supplies mean it’s as enjoyable as you’ll want it to be.  Even just running around and exploring is entertaining.  For me it was a fun break, one I plan to spend more time with in coming months.

Visually this is what I’d expect from a Minecraft inspired game.  The proven art style’s beauty is in its simplistic nature.  The open world is infinite, yet it’s smooth moving with little draw-in.  There’s some good texture work, cool time cycles, and solid variations in ant designs.  Sound wise you have ant squeaks, environmental sound effects, and your own footsteps.  Atmospheric music featuring beautiful piano arrangements is a real asset!  Dramatic when under attack (with accompanying drums), soothing in the down times, and appropriately nonexistent on occasion, it’s just a really great soundtrack.  I confess to letting Battleminer run at times solely to hear the music.  How about adding a music player option?

The early screenshots and footage showed potential, and refreshingly it’s lived up to it – Battleminer is lots of fun!  There are some minor flaws (and no multiplayer as of yet) but nothing to stop me recommending this game.  Creative personalities will have much to entertain here.  For newbie’s like myself, Battleminer can help you see what all the Minecraft fuss is about.  Cube Creator 3D and UCraft will follow in coming months, but Battleminer has set the foundation for Nintendo gamers.