Three Square Meals? – Minecraft Recipes for Dummies

recipes-for-dummiesFirstly let’s clear up a mistake the dummy reviewing this book made. Just above the title of this book are the words ‘Portable Edition’. Being a bit of an old duffer, I conflated ‘portable edition’ with ‘pocket edition’. Pocket Edition as any nine year old will tell you is Minecraft on a phone or tablet. Portable edition refers to these slimmer narrower Dummies guides. The information in this book is not just for Minecraft PE. Realising this earlier would have saved me lots of conversations with my son that went something like,

‘What about Prismarine?’
*sigh* ‘not in the pocket edition Dad…’
‘Granite?’
*sigh* ‘not in the pocket edition Dad…’

So I gleefully noted lots of errors and omissions, ready to unleash a toxic review on this piece of misleading filth. Thankfully the pocket/portable thing dawned on me early enough. I’d lost some time but I still had my face.

It wasn’t time entirely wasted. There was some good father-son bonding, even with the sighing and poking around on Minecraft wikis I learned more about what my children spend a great deal of their lives doing, namely building stuff out of cubes. In my day this was called Lego and hurt a lot more if you trod on it.

So the book then.

Firstly, it has recipes from various platforms (PC, PE, Raspberry Pi and console) in it, which is certainly a good thing. It’s a Dummies guide, so a no-frills how to do it. These books are never style over substance, (again a good thing) but it is at least full colour. My son has read until broken the Scholastic Minecraft primers. I can’t really recommend these enough. If you’re looking for a way into Minecraft for your child, you’ll struggle to find anything better. This however is for a different crowd, it sort of assumes that you know the basics of how to play, and are into making as many different things as possible. It’s more akin to Scholastic’s latest blockbuster (get it!) the Blockopedia; a book I haven’t bought, because what would be the point?

Which leads me onto the rub with this book. It’s very nice. If you want a book with all the Minecraft recipes in, it does the job well. I’ve had the information checked a verified by a independent expert and he tells me it’s good. He was vaguely interested in Prismarine, which is something he hadn’t encountered before, but other than me asking him to take a look a few times, he has never picked it up. Why? Because he uses Minecraft an awful lot. He talks about it seemingly endlessly with his friends. They know all this stuff back to front. They pick it up by osmosis. If I’d paid for this book, I’d have wasted my money.

It’s possible, of course, you have dropped into Minecraft in isolation, haven’t really played it before and don’t have anybody to talk to about it.  In which case you’re probably an adult. Then you might want the book as a handy reference guide. Even then, you’re on a computer, Google what you want to know. It’s all there, catalogued by lifeforms far more geeky than you can possibly imagine. I can see the appeal of the Blockopedia for adults. It looks nice, wonderfully tactile and best of all it’s a cube! It is, essentially, a coffee table book for people whose caffeine comes in Coke cans. The Dummies guide? It’s functional, but it has a function you don’t really need.

In any case isn’t it cheating? To my mind the interesting bit of Minecraft, if you’re playing Survival mode, is working out what you can and can’t build. If you’re going to copy it out of a book, you might as well just play in Creative. Finally, the game will evolve and the book won’t; another thing not in its favour. With a cover price that comes in under the price of some of the unofficial magazines I’ve bought, this is a decent quality product, but with all the information already out there already, you have to ask yourself do I really need it?

I was sent a copy of this book through the Amazon Vine Programme. 

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