Minecraft’s absence on Wii U has become all the more apparent by the independent developers that have frantically looked to fill Mojang’s pixelated void. That has undeniably spurred shameless imitation, started by Cypronia’s Cube Life: Island Survival with the Slovakian developer seeing the Nexis Games-developed UCraft as their closest rival.
With Stone Shire, Texas-based developer Finger Gun Games has become another contender trying to present the Nintendo devout with an alternative to Minecraft’s block-building ways. But, the clear problem is that it has been released on the Nintendo eShop before it has even had the chance to evolve into a worthwhile experience.
Stone Shire is woefully basic. Players select between grassland, tundra and desert as their map type, promising grass and lush trees, a frigid snowland covered with pine trees, and sandy dunes with dead trees and cacti respectively. The world is then procedurally generated before your very eyes before you are randomly plonked in it as a lone dwarf armed with a pickaxe.
Finger Gun share your bearded character’s impulse as being “to travel the world and to see what lies both above and beneath it,” but we can save energy in pursuing such explorative ambitions by saying that there isn’t anything worthwhile out there awaiting discovery.
Without any direction, players are left to gleefully swing their trusty pickaxe at the blocky world around them. This rewards you by unearthing materials from which you can craft planks, blocks and stronger pickaxes to more efficiently deconstruct the bare terrain that surrounds you. It’s more fun to burrow downwards than across, where players will uncover metal ores. But, even that soon encounters issues as you risk suddenly being greeted with the message ‘Cannot mine map edge.’ If you have dug straight downward, that immediately hampers the experience by placing you in a position where it is quicker to quit out and start again rather than steadily carve your way back to the surface.
But then, Stone Shire should more readily be seen as a digging simulator. There isn’t much else to do away from crafting materials and trying to build something from your cuboid materials. Without any purpose to the experience, it fails to achieve delivering on anything particularly memorable or meaningful.
Wii U GamePad integration is passable, granting players quick access to their inventory and crafting menu. Whereas Stone Shire‘s other relative success is in allowing players to equip items in both their silent dwarf’s left and right hands for more efficient mining.
It’s clear that Finger Gun Games see Stone Shire as an investment. Buy the game now, and you can await the developer steadily delivering on their future update list. Such a list shows promise, but it was posted in May and while the updates were “planned for the next few months” we’re still sat at Version 1.0.