Release Date: Nov. 7
Minecraft clones and lookalikes have been popping up all over the indie gaming world ever since the open-world/sandbox building game was first released for PC. In fact, in just the iOS App Store alone, we’ve had no shortage of clones that range from ethically unsound exact copies to clumsy 2D remakes (Fortresscraft, Craft Mine, Crafted, etc.). So when we first came across newcomer Junk Jack, we had every right to be suspicious. However, the game manages to do what very few Minecraft-inspired games have been able to do: It takes all the deep mechanics of Minecraft and wrap them up in its own personality and style.
At its most basic, Junk Jack takes cues from games like Terraria that have successfully flattened the building and mining gameplay of Minecraft into two dimensions. Here, the two-person indie developer Pixbits has focused the game’s ambitions on Survival Mode, pitting players in a struggle to put a roof over their head and keep out the monsters. As we began our first night in the world of Junk Jack, we realized two things right off the bat. First, the control scheme behind Junk Jack works immaculately. By tapping to place and destroy blocks and swiping to move, everything feels smooth and effortless.
But secondly, we found that the game’s cutesy pixelated presentation doesn’t represent its depth or difficulty. There’s an unforgiving game hiding beneath this playful exterior. As we dug down into the randomly generated world and began mining we found very little in the form of guidance or assistance, leaving us with just an empty crafting table and some blocks of dirt and wood. Soon enough, the game had us scouring the web for crafting recipes and meticulously decking out our pixel pad with the same excitement we had when we first played Minecraft (almost to a fault). Fortunately, the developers have added a craftbook that players start with in a quick patch, making the game that much more accessible to newbies to sandbox-style games.
Minecraft has officially been confirmed for iOS devices, but its eventual release won’t make Junk Jack irrelevant. Pixbits has given us its own unique take on what is increasingly become something of its own genre. It’s highly recommended for all those who have ever been curious about Minecraft but never taken the dive in or those looking for an excellent take on the genre for iOS.