Junk Jack Review
Perfectly captures the spirit of the genre in hand-held form.
Gorgeously simple, yet appealing aesthetics.
Guides players without hand-holding; occasional hints move you on.
Multiple worlds with parallel inventories makes for a massive world to explore.
Static-feeling world that doesn't quite have the depth inherent in the genre; lacks the mechanical processes of its bigger brother; water/fluids yet to be included in the system; etc.
Junk Jack isn't Minecraft, nor does it feel like it needs to be as its 2D world provides the same level of novel exploration fun while presenting challenges of its own to overcome; a tightly balanced free form experience that's only going to get better with time.
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There's a sort of epiphany, a miniature moment of enlightenment if you will, that comes from a lifetime of playing video games. It can come even earlier than this, but you start to see the vast reams of games you've played as a rainbow of genres, each one blurring seamlessly in to the next with some becoming the strongest example of a specific moment.
If you've not played the free-form exploration title Minecraft you've done yourself a disservice; while I personally dipped in and out fairly quickly, its left a lasting impression on me and provided a great springboard for discussions on what really makes a 'game'.
Junk Jack by Pixbits joins this new shade of gaming by melding two examples of the genre, notably Minecraft and Terraria as it provides a side-scrolling 2D platforming setup from the latter, with a free exploration and crafting system more similar to the former.
Much like Minecraft you're thrown in to a huge generated world, with little more than some basic controls (swipe and hold to move, swipe up to jump) and a large empty inventory. After some experimentation tapping yields your first harvest of blockified resources and a note charging you to continue exploring. More notes follow, some with recipes and with luck you'll be on your way as you first create basic tools, then advanced ones, exploring ever deeper for treasures to horde.
This exploration is rewarded with various visually stunning biomes, each with their own unique twists such as forgotten Egyptian ruins or underground forests. Despite being rendered in 2D with large blocks, the cartoonish style works in the game's favor as it's always easy to see what you're doing and additional depth is given to the world as players not only mine in the 2D plane they're on, but also the background itself.
So far, so similar many would say and you'd be right, though this is the magic of the exploration based series of games - your objective is to learn about and master your environment. Better still you're not limited to one world either; load up a new world and items in your inventory carry over, giving you a chance to start again or harvest more gems for your palatial home.
For a game made by a two-man Indie team, Junk Jack packs a punch for the iOS platform by simultaneously combining intuitive controls, appealing aesthetics and a few hints that help you on your way. A definite must have for fans of Minecraft, Terraria and those after a time-waster that's sure to grow over time.