Version Reviewed: 1.01
App Reviewed on: iPad 2
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
How far video games have come, as both a craft and an artform, where we have reached the point of creating experiences where players are rewarded for the idle passage of time alone. How little is our rapidly dwindling free time actually worth these days when we choose to expend these precious seconds of our lives simply watching a number counter get bigger? Spawned in the wake of such slacksterpieces as Cookie Clicker and Candy Box, a whole new genre of these time-wasting diversions are out there - featuring no skill or strategy requirements and, in many cases, a minimal degree of player interaction. The “idle games” have come and we were not ready.
Hyperbole aside, there is, for whatever unfathomable reason, an oddly addictive element to these novelties. Starting them is easy enough, but once they get underway it grows increasingly difficult to just step away and do something productive. Or even to play a game with a plotline or a skill-challenging difficulty curve, really. And then, as if their inexplicable allure wasn’t enough, someone found a way to mash it up with one of pop culture’s unexpected phenomenons: Minecraft.
I don’t claim to know the licensing status of Minecraft’s visuals, sounds, or intellectual property, but I’m approaching this with the assumption that this was cleared with Notch and Mojang first. Because if not this one might not be hanging around for too long, as PickCrafter pretty much lifts all of these elements for its own usage.
And that’s really all PickCrafter is: a Minecraft-themed Cookie Clicker. But instead of cookies, players gain picks as the seconds tick by, which can be cashed in for chests containing randomized loot in the form of different types of blocks and resources. Blocks can also be collected by tapping the screen or, alternately, shaking your device, which supposedly nets more blocks per break. However, I find a good fast finger provides both a better blocks-per-minute return and leaves your arm less exhausted. These blocks can then be converted into better picks (for faster tap-mining), weapons, and armor (which increase the passive picks-per-second rate). Also, certain amounts of specific blocks can be used to unlock new biomes that, of course, contain new types of blocks.
And that’s it, really. Mine blocks, open an occasional chest, craft items, all so you can mine even more blocks. Occasionally your pick will catch fire for a few seconds because you’re mining so awesomely, which increases your yield. And every now and again a Creeper pokes onto the screen, prompting you to rapidly tap to destroy it, which nets another small burst of block rewards. It’s not engaging, entertaining, or even especially fun. And yet I spent the better part of a weekend checking back in, or idly tapping myself to a near-blister while I caught up on television.
I don’t claim to understand it, and when the goals start getting ridiculous (like 750 Obsidian blocks to open the Nether biome) it begins to lose its mystique. But for a short, confusing time, PickCrafter can sink its hooks into you and you’ll begin to fear for your sanity.