It may still be two months late, but Minecraft Xbox 360 fans across the globe will likely be thrilled to hear that Minecraft Xbox 360 Update 9 is now available via Xbox Live, a full 24 hours prior to the previously scheduled release date.

According to 4J Studios, the team responsible for approving/scheduling the release of new content on Xbox Live decided to bump up the official release date for Minecraft Xbox 360 Update 9, and the patch apparently began rolling out to the various XBLA regions early Thursday morning. The current hope is to roll out Minecraft Xbox 360 Update 9 around the globe by the end ofThurday,

Minecraft Xbox 360 Update 9 introduces "The End" -- home of the Ender Dragon -- along with a retooled final boss encounter that should add a new level of difficulty for Minecraft Xbox 360 players attempting the game's ultimate challenge. The already formidable Ender Dragon will have the added bonus of iron bars protecting the crystals which heal him, along with a new purple acid attack that will allow Minecraft Xbox 360's largest foe to damage players from afar.

The latest Minecraft Xbox 360 patch has quite a bit more than the Ender Dragon in store for players though, including dozens of game optimizations and bug fixes, and the ability to finally smelt your own Nether Bricks with a basic Furnace. Similar functionality was first introduced in the PC edition of Minecraft, as part of the Minecraft 1.5 Redstone Update which was released on March 13.

Check out the Minecraft Xbox 360 Update 9 trailer released by 4J Studios:

Here's the full Minecraft Xbox 360 Update 9 changelog:

- Added 'The End', with new layout, and new Enderdragon behaviour.

- Added Climbable Vines.

- Added Fire Charge, Wooden Button, Item Frames, Spawn Eggs, Sandstone Stairs, Spruce Stairs, Birch Stairs, Nether Bricks, Spruce Planks, Birch Planks, Nether Brick Slab, Spruce Slab and Birch Slab.

- Added new music for The End and The Nether from C418

- Made buckets and signs stackable.

- Sheep now re-grow their wool after shearing.

- New gravel texture.

- Can now smelt Netherrack into a Nether Brick in a Furnace.

- Blacksmith buildings in Villages now hold chests with loot of the same type as found in Strongholds.

- Crafting recipe change - Sign recipe gives three Signs.

- Crafting recipe change - Half Slab recipes give six Half Slabs.

- Crafting recipe change - Stone Button now requires one block of stone instead of two.

- Added smoother color transitions between biomes.

- Added beaches to terrain generation.

- Fence Gates can now be opened and closed with Redstone.

- Changed Nether Fortress to make Nether Wart rooms more likely.

- Made Nether Wart spawn randomly wherever Soul Sand is generated in the Nether.

- Nether Wart will now grow in the Overworld.

- Made Dispenser dispense mobs from Spawn Eggs, rather than the egg itself.

- Dispenser will dispense lava/water from a Bucket of Lava/Water.

- Dispenser will shoot Fire Charges.

- Trapdoors can be placed on half slabs and stairs

- Allow players to block with a sword when the 'Can Build And Mine' option is unchecked by the host.

- Moved six of the twelve music disc quests in the Tutorial World

- Changed the Tutorial world to add climbable Vines, and some of the new items, and removed/reduced the items in the Brewing, Farming and Breeding chests.

- Don't show the achievements warning when loading a creative map that has already been saved in creative mode.

- Reduced the volume of the Ghast sound effects.

- Increased the distance jukeboxes can be heard from.

- Improved lighting code performance.

- Improved the loading/saving time.

- Changed the display order in the Minecraft Store to show newest DLC first.

- Added How To Play for The End and Farming Animals

- Added HUD size options for both splitscreen and full screen modes.

- Added Reset Nether option to force regeneration of The Nether. This is helpful for older saves that didn't have a Nether Fortress.

- Added a toggle for Death Messages.

- Added a toggle to hide or display the animated character in the User Interface.

- Allow individual splitscreen users to have their own settings for HUD.


- Fix for a Nether portal crash due to Ghast fireballs

- Fix for Cave Spider size.

- Fixed Experience Orb pickup sound not having pitch variance.

- Fixed a crash when attaching Glowstone to Pistons.

- Fixed a render update problem on the end of world chunks

- Fixed a crash with players throwing Enderpearls and leaving the game.

- Stop the player animation for eating happening in the Change Skin menu

Be sure to check back with and follow Scott on Twitter for all the latest Minecraft Xbox 360 news and rumors as game development continues in the weeks and months to come.

What are you planning to build first once you finish downloading Minecraft Xbox 360 Update 9? Is there anything you were hoping to see in the next Minecraft Xbox 360 patch that didn't arrive on Thursday?

Let us know in the comments section!

Related Articles:

Minecraft Xbox 360 Update 9 Release Date, Ender Dragon Changes Confirmed For Early April

Minecraft Xbox 360 Update 9 Will Introduce The End, Enderdragon And More

Minecraft 1.6 Release Date: Find Out When Mojang Expects To Launch The Next Major 'Minecraft' Update