Reviewing Minecraft Monsters

How long has Minecraft existed? 45 years or something? I've never played it or even personally seen it played, but somehow I feel like I know everything about it. Maybe that's an unavoidable effect of being part of our society: sooner or later, you know what happens in Minecraft.

Anyway, after 57 long years, the game recently added a couple of new monsters I thought were neat ideas, and it finally brought the game's number of kind of neat monsters up to what I consider article-worthy. You've waited 78 years for this one! Wow!




CREEPER

We obviously ought to begin with this one, which has become a video game icon almost as famous as Pac-Man or Mario, though its "design" was originally just an error in testing the game's pig model, or something like that. Anyway, the Creeper is an upright monster with a head on top, no arms, and four stumpy little legs at the bottom. It hisses like a snake and has a texture like mottled green moss. It's said to have a consistency like dead leaves and it is highly flammable, even explosive, which is its whole gimmick: it quietly "creeps up" and explodes to destroy a big chunk of all those mines you've so carefully crafted.

It's difficult to talk about the creature's design in any further detail, because everything in Minecraft is stylized into a bunch of simple cubes and blocks. The Creeper has gaping, black holes for eyes and a matching mouth, but other than that we have no idea what kind its various blocks represent. An armless humanoid torso with four feet? A stumpy four-legged body with a giant head and neck? A plant stalk that crawls on its roots? A ghoulish face with one giant four-toed leg? Some people find this ambiguity part of the charm, but I'm sorry to say I'm just not a fan. Any "official" reveal of what we're looking at would be disappointing, so I'm not advocating for that, but I guess I'm saying that "blocks" are my least favorite aesthetic medium.




SILVERFISH

At least we know what this monster is by its name...at least, most of us do. Minecraft is so popular by now, there's a growing number of people who heard about "silverfish" from this game before they ever heard of them in real life. There are internet threads in which people are shocked, even horrified to find out that this is a real animal and not a fictional video game monster, which is both very funny and kind of saddening. Granted, silverfish are quite a bit less famous than other household insects such as cockroaches or clothes moths, so I appreciate that they became the go-to "pesky bug" of any given setting.

In Minecraft, silverfish can infest certain environmental blocks so that they don't yield any useful materials when mined; just more silverfish!


So most video games have to have that point where there's just no more possible map, but Minecraft eventually decided to make this an in-canon environment, if I recall my meta lore correctly (UPDATE: I didn't, I'm apparently thinking of something else) so "The End" is the darkness beyond Minecraft's natural reality, and if you insist on messing around there, you have to watch out for these Slenderman knockoffs, the Endermen! They're shadowy black humanoids with long limbs and luminous, purple eyes, and what's interesting about them is that they really just want to be left alone. They wander around, picking up blocks of scenery and moving them around for reasons known only to whatever an Enderman is, and will live and let live until the player happens to look one directly in the face. When that happens, an Enderman freezes in place and seems to seethe with rage, then attacks with lightning speed the moment the player ever breaks that eye contact.

It's a very "creepypasta" kind of behavior pattern. Very SCP of them. The fame of the Enderman may quite possibly now exceed the fame of Slenderman, but I'm not sure how measurable that would be, except that between the two, it's Enderman that's appeared in Adventure Time and in Smash Brothers. What's Slenderman crossed over into? As far as I'm aware, only American Dad and Big Mouth. Jeez, that's rough, Slenderman.



ENDERMITE

These little things are interesting, seemingly modified from Silverfish, but with fewer body segments they're officially the tiniest Minecraft creature. They can be hatched out of "ender pearls," which are used in like, teleportation magic stuff, but what's kind of intriguing about them is that Endermen hate them. We don't know why, but Endermen will go out of their way to kill Endermites, to the point that players can use a trapped Endermite as bait to lure as many Endermen as they want.

If they're anything like actual mites, their anatomy should be an arachnid with a single, fused body segment, but I feel like they're probably something more "alien" that's only referred to as a "mite" for convenience.




WITHER

This is a pretty wacky one. The Wither is something a player can actually conjure into being by arranging the right kind of blocks with three skulls from three wither skeletons, an undead enemy type, creating a creature that consists of one gigantic spinal column, rib cage, and three greatly enlarged heads we can presume to still resemble human skulls. It floats around killing everything it encounters, and if it kills something on natural grassy terrain, it leaves behind a creepy little black rose. Dramatic! Defeating a Wither is the only way to get an item called a nether star, which you can use to make a glowy thing that does stuff.


There's also the "Wither Storm," which begins as a wither but continues to grow into a black, many-tentacled mass with more eel-like, one-eyed heads and the ability to suck matter into its body like a black hole!




MOOSHROOM

These are the only creatures native to the Mushroom Forest biome: herds of cattle covered in fungus, which are friendly in the main game but actually attempt to kill you in Minecraft Dungeons. That's actually pretty dreadful! I'm surprised there aren't any "mushroom men" or "fungus zombies" to go with them, but hostile mushroom-infected cows are a pretty unique idea. You can actually still tame them, though, and you can still milk them, but what comes out is mushroom stew. You know, I like dairy products, and I like mushroom stew, but mushroom stew from an udder is not something I don't think I would ever put near my mouth.




GHAST

This is another old classic of the franchise, originally introduced with the hellish environment known as the Nether. The Ghast consists of a pale, clammy looking head with multiple short tentacles that drifts like a balloon through its molten underworld, and only attacks by spitting fireballs from afar. Its most interesting qualities are the fact that it's gigantic, and the fact that it makes disturbing, infantile whimpering sounds.

Like the Creeper, the ambiguity of the blocky style is almost frustrating here, because a giant, floating, tentacled head is certainly a compelling concept, but the actual kind of head is what would make or break it as a creature design. Is it some bloated, saclike, alien jellyfish cranium? Does it resemble a pallid, corpselike human face? Maybe its sound effects are a clue? Is it a giant flying baby head?!



UPDATE: there's a little baby ghast design I missed, and it's transparent with some kind of brain or nucleus inside. So they're definitely thinking "air jellyfish" with these creatures, they just also have creepy faces on them. I feel like they might still kind of look like a big gelatinous doll head, but that's just me.




PHANTOM

This is a cool one! I didn't even know about it until recently. It's an undead creature sot of resembling a tattered manta ray with visible bones, and I've always been pretty fond of ray-like flying monsters. What makes this one fascinating is that it comes for you only if you haven't slept in more than three days. They're also afraid of cats! They'll avoid anything feline, which really has kind of a folkloric feel to it.




SHULKER

These weird things consist of a pale cube with eyes that hides in a larger cubical shell, and attack by launching spiny, guided missile-like projectiles. They can also teleport, and are found inhabiting huge structures or "End Cities" in the same outer reality as Endermen.

I think this one might also bother me the MOST when it comes to its design or lack thereof. A clam-like organism? A little man hiding in a box? I can't even begin to guess!




GUARDIAN

This marine enemy is associated with underwater ruins, and has a cracked, rocky looking body with one large eye and multiple long, retractable spines; sort of like a giant sea urchin, though it also has a fish tail. Its stony appearance, laser eye beam attack, and habitat all give the impression of something artificially created by a lost civilization, and there's even a stationary variant without the tail.



HEART OF ENDER

The final boss of Minecraft Dungeons is the manifestation of an evil, sentient "orb" (cube) involved with the game's main story, and initially looks similar to a giant Enderman, with a more elongated head and multiple tentacle-like limbs.


After the Heart of Ender's apparent defeat, it reappears in the Echoing Void DLC as an even larger, caterpillar-like form, the "Imperfect" Heart of Ender that stalks the player throughout the scenario.


The worm-like form finally becomes the "Vengeful" Heart of Ender for the DLC's final battle, with an eye on each of its body segments and a flaming, horned head!



ENDERSENT

The Endersent are just six special agents of the Heart of Ender, resembling Endermen with even longer limbs, hammer-like hand appendages and, not seen from this angle, a reptilian eyeball in their chest, "eyes of ender" that can be used to open portals between dimensions.



ENDERLINGS

The last Enderthingies we'll be talking about, these lesser agents of the Heart are Endermen with various weird mutations: the Blastling has huge, luminous arms that fire energy projectiles, and its head is engulfed in purple flames. The Watchling is covered in eyes, and the particularly bizarre Snareling produces adhesive slime in a sac on its back, spewing it from a gloppy orifice in its chest. These are all really interesting, even if there's possibly too many Enderman variants at this point.




JUNGLE ABOMINATION

In the Minecraft Dungeons Jungle Awakens DLC, it turns out that a shard of the evil orb thingy wound up polluting a tropical forest, and became the core of an immense monster assembled from vines, logs and soil; a sinister Ent-like being with the same luminous eyes and mouth associated with Ender-beings.




WHISPERER

The Jungle Abomination's basic minions are pretty cool humanoid plants that kind of remind me of my beloved Ivy from Resident Evil 2! Even through the filter of cubism, I can see this creature has the same sort of body woven together from vines and roots, while the head is just a big fly-trap mouth. "Whisperer" is a really neat, spooky name for a plant monster, too. It attacks primarily by summoning vines and toxic, killer flowers!




LEAPLEAF

Larger and tougher than the Whisperer, this plant monster has a more gorilla-like shape, and a violet flower for a head identical to those of the Whisperer's poison vines!




MOOSHROOM MONSTROSITY

This is the last thing we're looking at from the "Dungeons" spinoff, and it's actually just a mushroom-flavored variant on a giant stone creature, but I'm glad there's one more fungus enemy of some sort, and its main attack method is to spawn herds of Mooshrooms! It's a giant shroomy rock man that tries to kill you with an army of shroomy bovines. That's ridiculous!




STRIDER

I think this might actually be my favorite? The Strider is entirely a large head with a single pair of long legs, scraggly hair, and an almost frog-like or whale-like face with tiny eyes. A bit comical and a bit creepy, but actually nothing to be afraid of: they're completely peaceful, nonviolent wildlife of the Nether, adapted to walk on the surface of its deadly lava. If removed from lava, they even look sad and start to shiver constantly :( :( :(




RIP: THE BARNACLE

We begin to wrap this article up on a bit of a sad note: as cool as the Phantom was, it was actually part of a vote to choose one of four possible new monsters, and the three losers will supposedly never be used. The Phantom was definitely a strong choice, but the very first concept eliminated was a giant, killer sea monster known as "Monster of the Ocean Depths" or "Barnacle," and it might have been another favorite of mine, had it been implemented! It consists almost entirely of a large, four-petaled toothy mouth, presumably tough and chitinous, that would swim through the sea and attack player vessels with its long tongue. It doesn't look anything like a barnacle, mind you, but it's hardly much weirder than the forms they can actually take, and a big sea monster feels like a niche still sorely missing from the setting. The guardians are one of the only oceanic monsters they've even got!




NOT QUITE RIP: THE GLARE

This was another creature put to community vote, but the losing designs are still set to be implemented at a later date. The Glare is supposed to be helpful to players by identifying areas of total darkness, but this is something players can already do, so it wasn't as popular as the other "beneficial" critters it was up against. Its design, however, is undeniably lovable: a green, drippy looking mass with eyeballs peering from its single, dark cavity. It's like a giant bagworm! I can't tell if it's supposed to look like it's made of slime or like it's made of sticks and leaves, though both are good. (Slime is better)





WARDEN

This monster is so new, it isn't even released yet while I'm writing this. It inhabits a new subterranean location known as the Deep Dark, asssociated with pools of a slimy fungus-like material called sculk, which also seems to comprise the Warden's actual flesh. It's a huge, eyeless humanoid monstrosity with fungal looking blue horns, a toothless maw and an exposed, open rib cage filled with glowing blue "souls." It's also the first completely blind creature added to the game, tracking the player by sound alone, and its ominous heartbeat can be heard from a distance. It's also devastatingly powerful; so powerful that the developers liken it more to a "natural disaster" than an enemy, and don't intend players to even attempt fighting it. Definitely a terrifying concept, and as freaky a design can really be when it's still a stack of boxes.

I guess this is about all I've got to say about any Minecraft-related monster designs, at this point. Was it worth the 91 years you waited to hear my deepest thoughts on what comes out of a Mushroom's udders??!

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