Junk Jack ($2.99) by Jack is a 2D sandbox game for your iPhone, which is reminiscent of popular PC titles Minecraft and Terraria.
In Junk Jack, you are Jack, and you’re in a colorful and pixelated world. Your objective? Survive, of course! Pretty much anything on the screen can be interacted with by a simple tap. You will have to collect materials from the world around you to build shelter and other useful tools for your survival. If you’re familiar with the mentioned PC games, then you will know your way around Junk Jack.
When you get started with the game, you can save up to three worlds. Each world you create is randomly generated, so none of your worlds will be the same! This is great, because the experience will never be the same, even if you play the game dozens of times. If you are unsatisfied with a world, you can delete it and start a new one.
In the world itself, you interact with your surroundings by tapping on items. For example, you will want to get some blocks so you can start building shelter for the night, so just repeatedly tap on dirt blocks until they break, and give you one block to build with. Sometimes there will be ore in the dirt, which you’ll notice by the sparkles in them. Getting these ores will allow you to craft more tools, like shovels to dig faster. Even hidden treasures await! It’s important to keep in mind that you can collect any material in the world to use in crafting, even trees (for wood), animals (for meat or cloth), stone blocks, and more.
If you have not played Minecraft or Terraria before, then you may be a bit confused on the crafting part. As you go around collecting materials, sometimes you will encounter loose pages of a book. These pages will give you tips and even recipes on items to craft. So these are pretty important to collect, since you will want to know the recipes to aid in your survival.
To move Jack around, just tap and hold on either side of the screen. You can make him jump by flicking up, but if you are walking and a block is in your way, he will automatically jump on to it. It is important to note that Junk Jack is a dual-layered world – so there are actually two blocks to place or break in one square on the screen. This gives players the ability to customize the background and foreground as they please.
In addition to these simple controls, there are some buttons that you need to be aware of. At the top left is the pause button, which will give you the option to save your game and exit (the game is automatically saved if you press the home button as well) or resume. Your health bar will also be shown next to the pause button as well. When you are hit by the critters at night, your hearts will decrease. If you die, you can respawn, but you may lose some of your items.
On the right edge of the screen will be five slots for easy access to items. Items will stack on top of each other, so if you have multiples of an item, you’ll see your current inventory of them on the icon. At the bottom left corner are the last two buttons you’ll need to know. The brown bag one will bring up your inventory of items, and the map button will zoom out so you can see your creations.
In the inventory, you will notice that it’s split up into two areas: on the left is your inventory, and on the right is a wooden panel. The wooden panel is where you will drag items from the inventory into the correct order and craft items (hit that hammer and screwdriver button). Remember those pieces of paper? You’ll have to remember those patterns to successfully craft items. In a game like this, there are plenty of items to collect and craft, so you’ll definitely have fun trying to find them all.
A dynamic day and night cycle is found in Junk Jack. When it is the day, you can freely explore the world and collect materials to your heart’s content. However, be prepared for the night, as it ends up extremely dark (torches will help you out) and monsters will come out and try to kill you. Have your weapons ready, and some shelter to prevent them from reaching you. To attack them, you will have to be near enough to tap them a few times.
There’s actually plenty to do in Junk Jack, with over 90 materials for your buildings, 130 crafts, and over 400 hidden treasures. The art is beautifully done in a retro style, and the music is fantastic. There are tons of Game Center achievements as well, so the incentive to keep playing is there.
The developers already have plenty in store for updates, including quests, cooking, and a fully working farm system. There will also be an improved step-by-step How to Play guide (including crafting) in a future update that should help out a lot of new players. There is a crash issue with the iPhone 3G and 2nd generation iPod touch that the developers are already working on a fix for.
I encountered one crash during my testing of the app, but it has not happened again. The crash I encountered was not a big deal, as I did not do much in the short period I played, but I will recommend that you constantly save your progress any way.
If you’re a fan of games like Minecraft and Terraria, then definitely try out Junk Jack. There’s plenty to do and a lot more cool stuff on the way. You won’t be disappointed.