When a game attains mass popularity and does something special, other developers tend to follow suit and make clones. If you look at most of what is available on the Apple App store, many of these games are just general rip offs or clones of other big games. Look at the likes of Puzzles and Dragons a popular game on mobile devices that has been ripped off or cloned by many, including Disney, and it is because the formula works. What even more people have tried to rip off (but failed) is Minecraft. The game is popular for many reasons and for a good reason, it is the perfect sandbox builder that offers limitless potential to those looking to be creative, so it is the perfect candidate for developers to clone.
On the Wii U we only recently got Minecraft so prior to this, many independent developers attempted to make their own versions of the popular sandbox builder. We got Cube Life Island Survival, Discovery, Ucraft hopefully on the horizon, and finally Stone Shire the latter of which I recently decided to give a go to and essentially, this is the poor man’s Minecraft.
The thing that makes Minecraft great is its world and its limitless potential, the world is full of potential life and when willing, the game can be enjoyable. Finger Gun Games attempt with Stone Shire has nothing which makes Minecraft good, and in turn does not even have a soul or life of its own. As far as Minecraft goes, this is essentially a generic game that takes the base design of the builder and does nothing more with it, you get the world but really nothing more.
I would be nicer, but the game can’t even manage to create a good world, when I said the game has no life I mean it, there is no people, there is no animals so exploring this world, I was left with a longing feeling. I wanted more, I wanted to feel like something existed and I was not alone, which never occurred, this land is essentially desolate removing any room for potential atmosphere.
Besides this there isn’t even room to explore, the world we are placed into in Stone Shire is strictly limited to a small square base whose walls are easy to see and reach. Luckily, there is an underground to go into but the same issue occurs, we only can go so far and also the land and terrain is pretty bland. There is no life down there which would have made things more exciting, and really there is only so much pointless block collecting I can do before I get bored.
I’d love to say that collecting blocks had some value, but in truth this does nothing either, usually we would use our collections to build clever constructs of a shelter, a castle, or whatever we can imagine. I never really felt driven to push my creativity in Stone Shire, with no life, enemies, or a day and night cycle in the game, creating a shelter felt pointless. In addition, my options always seemed very limited and when creating big buildings, I never would have any items in which I could craft to create decorative pieces.
Stone Shire lives heavily in its limitations and its crafting doesn’t help this, while I appreciate the extreme simplicity of the system, I felt I was hindered from achieving anything in game and my whole point in playing the game was worthless. This simplicity makes it easier but doesn’t really help make the system any good, the crafting options are pretty limited and only really offer the chance to create certain blocks, torches, or doors. There is no options for a bed or bookshelf or even better ways to transform this world into something of your own, everything is as bland and generic as it comes and offers no room to really get creative, this even removes the reason to explore and play.
However, there is one thing I did really like about this particular game and it is the Gamepad management. One thing that many of us have said for a while is that Minecraft would be a perfect game for the Wii U as long as the touch features were used. This never turned out to be the case, but in Stone Shire your inventory system is all handled through touch based menus, there is no touch and grab feature, but you do just have to touch an item and place into an available inventory slot. It’s only minor, but it is nice to see this feature in action and does make the minor constructive options easy to manage, this however is really the only good thing about this game and is honestly pointless in line with the rest of the game.
The game would be bearable if there was nothing wrong with it, if the game was just bland and generic this would still not be an enjoyable experience, but at least it would be playable. The bigger problem is the game is broken, Stone Shire suffers from frequent frame rate drops that make it exceedingly difficult to play and annoyingly slow. Besides this, the game crashes a lot. Every time I played the game after around half an hour of play it would cease to work and freeze, forcing me to have to force shutdown the console. This also meant I never could save my progress, I would frequently be working my way to a point where I would save and then the game would crash so I would have to restart.
Furthermore, the crashes are made worse when the game takes forever to load. Each time you start a new map, the game forces you to wait for it to load the tiny piece of land you could call your world, in combination with the crashes, this was a nightmare and really made me not want to keep going at all.
I tried hard to give this game the benefit of the doubt, I really wanted to like Stone Shire, but even for a really cheap price it is not worth it. I wish I could say that the game is worth sinking a couple of hours of your time into, even just for a taste of a Minecraft clone, but to put it lightly, you are wasting your time. Even if Stone Shire has one redeeming feature, there is no fun or life in this broken game, Wii U owners are better off spending the extra money to either buy Minecraft, or even try the other clones which at least have some life to them.