Junk Jack

3 min

Minecraft has become so a popular that it has essentially created an entirely new genre of video games. With the simplicity of exploration and building, the title is accessible to just about everyone who owns a PC or Xbox 360, though the mobile version of the game remains fairly lackluster in features. For those looking for a similar experience, however, the app store has been flooded with Minecraft inspired games, some featuring the first-person perspective, while others have taken the gameplay to a 2D platforming dimension. Enter Pixbit’s Junk Jack, a iOS title that is sure to please fans of the genre.

The premise behind Junk Jack very simple, and very similar to the game that inspired it. You take control of a character in a fully explorable, randomly generated world, trying to survive the monster filled nights by mining for materials and crafting new tools to venture farther into the unknown. During the day, the world is relatively safe unless you venture too far underground, but at night, spiders, slimes, zombies, and other hideous creatures come out to play.

Controlling your character is very easy, using simple swipe controls to move left or right, with automatic jumping to make things easier. Destroying blocks is done simply by tapping on the object once in range, and materials are then harvested from the trees, rocks, and other plants and structures you destroy. Anyone familiar with the concept of Minecraft will have no problems picking up Junk Jack, and the adjustment to a 2D perspective is quick.

While Minecraft focuses on using furnaces and workbenches to cook new recipes and create new tools, Junk Jack features a lot more possibilities. Workbenches and furnaces can be built, but players can also build looms for creating cloth-based items, cookware to make the hundreds of food recipes, furniture and decorations for shelters, and weapons to fend off the creatures of the night. The game offers an in-game manual with a few crafting recipes to get you started, but from there it is up to the player to find new recipes or experiment to create new items. There are hundreds of different items to craft, and the official wiki is still adding new recipes as players discover new ones. Junk Jack will also appeal to those who love to farm in Minecraft, offering a huge variety of plants and trees to work with, and players can even breed animals.

At night, or once far underground, the game becomes about survival. Using a background and foreground, players can create charming structures to protect themselves from the outside world, and decorate them with a variety of items. Couches and tables are basic pieces of furniture, but the more experimental players will discover how to make vases, paintings, and much more to create some very cool buildings.

The highlight of the game, however, is the depth of exploration offered in a 2D platformers. Each world is randomly generated, and features some amazing environments rendered in a beautiful 16-bit style. There are forests, snowy mountains, beaches and desert, all of which have unique materials to find and monsters to fight. Venture far enough underground to fight the huge monsters, and you can even come across some rare treasure to display at your shelter.

One issue that I found with the game is that some of the recipes are very complicated, mostly due to the use of so many different materials. It’s very easy to build a basic structure and make basic tools, but without finding a recipe in a chest or crate, it can be hard to build something as simple as a door. Some recipes must be built while in front of a workbench as well, even though both the basic crafting and workbench crafting provide the same amount of space for items. It’s true that a big draw to the game is experimentation, but I find it a bit frustrating when I need so many different materials to build a basic item.

Just like Minecraft, Junk Jack has an excellent fan community where you can show off all of your creations. There were no issues playing on the iPod Touch, though the game may best be enjoyed on the iPad due to the larger screen. Pixbits has also done a great job keeping the game updated, offering new weapons and items for players to craft. For those looking to get their mining fix on the go, Junk Jack is easily the best iOS title available in the genre.

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