The latest Minecraft - Pocket Edition [$6.99 / Free] update, the one which we first learned about from developer Mojang earlier this month, is now available in the App Store. In version 0.5.0 of Minecraft - PE you now have the ability to create paintings to adorn on the walls of your cave dwelling, or your 1:1 recreation of Uncle Phil's mansion from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, if that's how you roll. You can also now farm mushrooms, despite them being the most disgusting food on the planet (can you tell I don't like mushrooms?).
The ability to build a Nether Reactor has been added, which leads into the game's newest mob: zombie pigmen. Yes, they are exactly what they sound like, humanoid pig people that have been turned into zombies. Awesome. Another new item related to The Nether are Glowstones, which are luminescent blocks that you can create from Glowstone dust. Different than torches, Glowstones can be used as a light source that works underwater, which is pretty cool.
In addition to these additions, this update also tweaks the health in the game, restoring hearts while you're in bed and also giving you more hearts when you eat food. The fog in the game has also been toned down, and noticeably so. The worlds in Minecraft - PE are such a great deal smaller than those of its desktop counterpart that the excessive fog could make the environment around you feel even more confined. This update also fixes a whole slew of bugs, though I've noticed a couple of new ones, like the item descriptions for Paintings and Glowstones being strange placeholder text.
Finally, I've got to say that Minecraft - PE has come a long, long way since we reviewed the initial release version. With just the last couple of updates, it's gotten to the point where I can get lost playing in a similar fashion to the desktop version. Don't get me wrong, the desktop version still blows it out of the water and Pocket Edition still has yet to hit a proper version 1.0, so there's still a ton of work left. However, it's at least become what I've always wanted it to be: a satisfying sandbox experience that I can take with me anywhere. In fact it's been far away the most played game on my new iPad mini, which feels like the perfect platform for portable Minecraft.
I have high hopes that eventually Minecraft - Pocket Edition will become a very close proximity to its full-featured sibling, and all of the updates the mobile version has received since release really point in that direction. If you've been holding out on Minecraft - PE because it seemed to basic and boring, it's worth checking out again in its most updated form. I'm hoping Mojang continues to bang away at the project, and we'll definitely keep you up to date on any further update plans from them.