I played my fair share of Minecraft back in the day. I wasn't one of the cool kids who knew about it before it became a worldwide phenomenon, but I bought in before the beta, and spent countless hours building castles, spelunking in caves, and fleeing from hissing Creepers before moving on to other game experiences. I wasn't planning on rekindling that addiction with the XBLA version, but after listening to the nonstop praise of my co-workers, I finally broke down and bought Minecraft for the second time. It's good to be back.

I ran into a couple of bumps while getting back into the groove of things. Jeff Cork's review of Minecraft Xbox 360 Edition gives a good breakdown of what's different from the PC version, but the first change I noticed was the downsizing of the world, which I was initially disappointed by. Being able to play Minecraft on my big-screen television from the comfort of my couch is certainly a treat, but it also highlights some of the game's minor shortcomings, which I was willing to overlook the first time around given the PC's indie status. The sparse sound design especially stands out, which is a little hard to swallow considering Minecraft is one of the pricier XBLA games on the market. 

That said, it didn't take me long to discover that the magic of Minecraft is still wholly intact in the 360 version. The act of exploring a new, unique world and making it into a virtual home is as addictive as ever.

Minecraft gives new meaning to the term "open world."

The first world I created spawned me on a beach next to a large body of water. A few nearby continents converged around a central lagoon, and in the middle was a small island barely above the water line, loaded with about a dozen trees – the perfect place to create a base of operations.

Well aware of how fast the sun sets on your first day in a Minecraft world, I quickly made some wooden instruments out of a nearby tree trunk, and then swam to one of the adjacent continents to dig up some cobblestone. I returned to my island and created a crafting table and foundry, then went back to chopping down as many trees as I could. Despite my urgency, darkness crept up faster than I had expected, and I hastily threw down a two-block-high foundation for my house before realizing I didn't have any charcoal for torches. I burned some wood and threw some lights up before trying to finish my house, twitching at every ambient noise while exposed in the wilderness.

As it turns out, Creepers are still terrifying.

By the time sunrise came, my humble shack had a roof, a couple windows, two sky lights, and a front door. I also had a half-empty health bar thanks to a tenacious spider that managed to swim out to my island. I wasted no time in embarking on the next day's activities: planting a small forest on the northern continent to replenish my wood supplies, fencing in my island to defend my home from future intruders, and drowning in embarrassingly shallow water while mining submerged cobblestone. I guess it's a good idea to pay attention to your air meter.

I still have plenty of land to explore in my world; the eastern continent has a pretty awesome-looking mountain range that caught my eye last night, and I have yet to do any underground mining. I also haven't touched the multiplayer yet, which my co-workers have been raving about too. Add to that the draw of exploring new worlds and the content updates 4J Studios is promising, and I'm sure I'll be putting plenty of more hours into the game. Minecraft Xbox 360 Edition may not be as robust as the PC version, but that shouldn't stop console gamers who are eager to find out why Notch's blocky sandbox is so addicting from trying it out.