Ah, 2009. What a year that was for video games. Seminal titles like Batman: Arkham Asylum and Prototype were keeping gamers busy with well-designed worlds and holistic gameplay loops. The seventh console generation was in full swing, with Nintendo’s Wii riding high above the competition thanks to capturing the all-important casual gaming demographic. The rise of digital distribution capped off this incredibly interesting time to be a video gamer.

Another auspicious gaming calendar event in the year of 2009 was the release of Minecraft. This game now attracts a ridiculous number of players each month – around 74 million, to be exact – but back during its inception it wasn’t anywhere near as well-known or feted as it is today. It’s the 10th anniversary of Minecraft this year – doesn’t time fly, eh – and to celebrate, you can play Minecraft Classic on Poki right within your browser.

It’s worth remembering that the Minecraft of ten years ago is a very different beast to today’s Minecraft. Many of the quality-of-life improvements and upgrades present in the modern version are nowhere to be seen in Minecraft Classic. That means, ironically enough, no mining and no crafting, which rather defeats the purpose when one thinks about it. Still, the essence of Minecraft isn’t necessarily either of its titular systems, so is Minecraft Classic still worth playing?

The thing to remember about Minecraft is that it’s a creative tool rather than a game. This applies even more so to the 2009 version than it does to the 2019 version. Since there’s no mining and no crafting, the emphasis becomes largely on placing blocks and building things. It’s still possible to play the game multiplayer – although it’s much more difficult to do so with the old-school server system in place – but for the most part, it’s just a place for you and your friends to hang and build stuff.

Let’s back up a little and explain Minecraft’s mechanics (if anyone still needs them explained, of course). If you’ve never played this game, try to imagine an interactive LEGO playset and you’re most of the way there. Minecraft Classic spawns players in a randomly-generated map consisting of a grasslands biome, gives them building blocks and tells them to go nuts. There’s no objective, no quests, no minimap and no structure other than that which the player ascribes to the game.

Even though this game isn’t a conventional video game experience per se, there is still plenty to do here. You can still build things using the blocks provided, and there are 32 blocks on offer to play with. If you’re a fanatic about construction in the modern Minecraft, you’ll find plenty to love here. Minecraft Classic may actually be the perfect introduction to the game for anyone who finds the modern version a little intimidating; with a vastly reduced amount of blocks and mechanics to work with, the game becomes a lot simpler and less demanding.

Minecraft Classic is deliberately a warts-and-all recreation of the Minecraft of 10 years ago. That means a lot of bugs and a pretty unintuitive user interface. That said, it’s still not difficult to know how to do things in Minecraft Classic, and once you’re au fait with the basic controls it’s not difficult to get a rhythm going. It’s still possible to build some pretty staggering things in this version of the game if you’re dedicated enough, and the immediacy of the browser-based system means no cumbersome booting up and loading times.

The thrill of organic exploration is also still very much present in Minecraft Classic. Although it’s not quite as easy to get down into the bowels of the earth and discover cave systems and lava flows as it is in the modern game, Minecraft Classic still allows players to delve deep into their biome and create a cave habitat for themselves. This part of the game really shines when other players become involved. If all you want is to wonder a beautiful pixelated landscape and “make your own fun”, then Minecraft Classic will deliver in spades.

This definitely isn’t the game for people who are objective-oriented or who demand fast-paced enjoyment. If you’re not a fan of modern Minecraft, you won’t like Minecraft Classic. You’ll probably appreciate its stripped-back nature, but you won’t like how it has no survival mode and no final boss to work towards. If you already love modern Minecraft, this is an excellent curio that not only shows how far the game has come but also has a few treats of its own to offer.

All in all, we’d strongly recommend checking out Minecraft Classic. At the very least, you’re experiencing a piece of video game history. At most, you’ll find a new timesink for you and your friends, especially if you can’t be bothered to boot up modern Minecraft and just need to kill some time hanging out in a virtual space. Minecraft Classic is every bit as fun, cute, and compelling as its modern counterpart.