The original Junk Jack, from Pixbits, was a favorite among iOS gamers looking for something like a Minecraft for mobile (before there actually was Minecraft for mobile). While it was surely a good game, full of the exploration and crafting elements people wanted, it was a bit overwhelming, and lacked guidance. These games generally do to some extent, but I found the original hard to get into. The sequel, Junk Jack X, fixes all of that, focusing on accessibility and small iterative improvements to the original, without changing too much. It also adds multiplayer.
Like Minecraft, you’re dropped into the world with naught but your mighty fists. Once you punch down some trees down and pummel down some stone, you can start crafting tools to make harvesting easier, before eventually getting access to building materials for your own humble abode, including doors, bridges, windows, and decorative pieces. At nighttime, creepy crawly enemies come out of the woodwork, so you’ll need a place to hide, though you can always toggle ‘peaceful mode’ on if you just want to focus on crafting.
Furthering the accessibility side of things, there’s a new simple crafting mode that simply lets you build from recipes you’ve collected if you have the right materials, without having to experiment with an actual grid. This was my favorite new feature by far, and saved loads of time. There’s a much better sense of gradual progression this time around. There is a handy tutorial to peruse, which was also lacking in the first game at launch, which shows just how deep this rabbit hole goes, with farming, cooking, and even animal breeding.
The multiplayer is the big addition, letting you play with one friend or stranger in the same world. Joining other people’s games often leads to you being killed just so your items, which are all dropped upon death, can be stolen, but playing with a friend is everything you’d want it to be. For the sake of variety, you can also visit different worlds with new creatures and color palettes to ogle.
This is pretty much the game that the original Junk Jack needed to be, honestly. It feels more like a finished, polished version of the original than a sequel, but that’s fine. The new crafting and interface options make for a much smoother ride, and overall, this is probably the best sandbox crafting game exclusively on mobile, with easy to use, intuitive controls. It’s easy to just get lost in the experience of exploring the depths of your world, recklessly mining until you hit a pitfall of some sort and die, your precious items far out of reach. Yes, I’m saying that as a positive point for the game. Junk Jack X is five bucks at the time of this review, with plenty of fun, totally optional IAP to check out as well.