iPhone App Video Review: Junk Jack

by Andrew Koziara

Minecraft, the indie gaming craze that has swept the nation, has already inspired other developers with its randomly generated wide open crafting world. A 2D tribute has already been released on Steam in the form of Terraria, a very similar though more combat focused take on the game. Now an even more similar tribute game has been released in Junk Jack on the iPhone, from developer Pixbits.

It's a gorgeous looking game that really captures the spirit of its indie big brother, though not always in a good way. As the game begins, you are just dropped into a randomly generated world as Junk Jack. Like Minecraft, you then proceed to punch trees, rocks, and dirt into pieces as you move and dig your way through the world. The controls are simple and work well, with you dragging your character around, swiping up to jump, and tapping on any random block to destroy it. Until you can really start building some quality tools, digging throws you into the carpal tunnel fast lane, and your wrists will not be pleased. As you explore and collect raw materials, you'll come across various crates and tool boxes full of goodies.

It shouldn't be long before you find a few notebook pages giving you certain crafting recipes. The crafting is nearly identical to Minecraft, except tools are now built at a diagonal instead of straight up and down for no reason. I followed one of these recipes to build a forge, and it wouldn't even work, so it's not a perfect system. My biggest complaint with this game is the lack of direction. I know Minecraft didn't exactly tell you what to do, but that game had, and still has the excuse of not even being finished. It just annoys me when I have to go to a wiki or some other website to learn how to play the game. Even though you can find recipes in notes, it's completely random. I died and lost a handful of notes, and since then I have not found a single solitary recipe. The developers have already stated that they're going to fix this issue in an update though.

I have yet to find any recipes for things like doors, so when night time comes, I just hide on top of a pillar until it's over. The various healing items I've found barely restore your health, though I assume more potent healing items can be crafted or found. This can lead to a lot of early deaths, though you can toggle "peaceful mode" if you're just looking to create rather than destroy. Despite all my complaints, the game is a ton of fun. Exploring and building items doesn't really seem to get old. Your inventory carries over between the game's three save slots, so if you want to start in a new world without starting from scratch, you're covered. Unfortunately, this means you can't let anyone else start a game on your device without risking your own items.

The pixel art style is very appealing, going with old school 2D graphics to mirror Minecraft's old school 3D. The chiptune soundtrack from Bright Primate is very well done and sets the charming tone of the game. Game Center achievements are supported, and the game can be yours for just three dollars. The game is currently crashing for some people with third generation devices or lower, though that's also being fixed. The game is only going to get better and better from here, so I'd give it a download.

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