The reason I prefer Terraria to (what little I've played of) Minecraft, is that Terraria doesn't focus too much on world creation.
I don't like being constructive in games, and I don't want to build anything magnificent. I don't want to recreate the Death Star or make a gold-plated palace.
Instead, I want to go on an adventure in which I fight tooth and nail to survive, using my wits and my environment to overcome the odds. If I fail I want to learn from my mistakes, and if I succeed I want to be rewarded.
Terraria gets all this right, and this Vita version of it is excellent.Let me tell you a story...
It's the stories you make yourself that will ensure Terraria lingers in your mind and on your Vita's memory card. Here's one of mine:
While blindly digging for ores in the ground, I fell into an underground cavern. When I landed I found a few Shuriken lying about, a handful of coins, and a statue of an angel. Creepy.
To break the gloom of darkness I lit a torch, and discovered just beside me a deep pool of water that I would surely have drowned in had I taken a few steps more to the left.
Surveying my surroundings, I attempted to leap across the water. I missed the other side of the pool, and as I vainly jumped to try and leave the water - my oxygen bar diminishing slowly - a notion struck me: perhaps I could dig my way out.
I smashed my pickaxe against the wall, breaking through to another empty cavern. The water that had been busily drowning me moments earlier drained through the hole that I had created, allowing me to breathe once more.
However, I wasn't safe for long. My exploring had awakened a giant worm and a flock of cave bats, and they were out for my blood. I ran away, careering through the darkness as fast as I could, heading into the unknown, unaware of what might lie ahead.Block logic
These sorts of occurrences are common in Terraria: its simple, logical, but diverse world harbours emergent gameplay in every pixel.
You need a shelter to survive the enemy-filled nights, so you construct one from stone and wood and mud, placing a door so that you can get in and out, but your foes cannot.
As the moon rises, you begin digging within your own home: your ramshackle house becoming the entrance to a deep mine with seemingly no end. Soon you're finding veins of ore, and dashing back up to your base of operations to smelt them into bars using your furnace, and then working these bars into armour with your anvil.
Clad in iron, silver bow in hand, you plunge back into the depths to fight the nasties that bested you previously, uncovering more riches.
Fighting these enemies is admittedly a bit of a chore, and the weakest part of the overall package. It's just not a lot of fun to keep awkwardly thwacking bad guys.
Likewise the controls are initially unwieldy to use, and never quite lend themselves to fast-paced play. But with practice the myriad traditional and touchscreen inputs used to move, craft, build, and fight become second nature, and the inclusion of both a touch-based inventory and a smart pointer - which automatically attaches to the object it thinks you want to interact with next - is welcome.
Did I mention there's online multiplayer? Well I should have, because there is, and you can do all the above with mates should you want to.
With plenty of home-grown stories to be spun, and hardcore surviving to be done, Terraria is a superb choice for those looking for DIY gaming fun on their Vita.