Kinda sounds like Flatland survival. I got to the nether on that (that's all you can really do, no end). You can trade wheat for emeralds in many cases, which makes it really easy because I just steal their wheat and trade it. Took me about 5 villages to get to the nether.
Yeah, I've done some flatland survival. It is a good deal easier, I found, than no 3x3 crafting.