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It's a shame the term "sandbox game" arrived when it did. Where the phrase used to be attributed to titles that took place in large hubs like Grand Theft Auto, it wasn't until recently that games actually started to resemble literal sandboxes. With Minecraft, Terraria, and now Junk Jack, we have the ability to actually shape environments just as we did with the grainiest part of the playground.
Junk Jack finds you exploring a 2D setting made out of blocks that can be destroyed and harvested for their constituent parts, which are then used to build tools (like shovels or pickaxes), home decorations, or equipment to design more complex creations. With no built-in goals besides achievements, it's up to you to create your own objectives. Before long, the game turns into a virtual episode of Hoarders, where you're trying to accumulate as much crap as possible or burrow as deeply as possible into the earth.
Problem is, crafting objects really isn't that much fun. It's unclear what you can make, and simple guesswork is unlikely to yield results; worse yet, the cluttered UI is a pain thanks to minuscule inventory buttons. Despite Junk Jack's landscape being geographically deep, it's all a bit shallow.
The bottom line. Junk Jack's collection of busywork rewards you with more busywork, and the occasional thrills -- like attaining a new soft or discovering an even deeper randomly generated cavern -- eventually feel like hollow victories.
iPhone or iPod touch running iOS 4.2 or later
Plenty to find and build. Creating your home and network of underground tunnels can be rewarding. Lo-fi visuals and chiptune soundtrack are stellar.
Cumbersome interface turns crafting into a chore. No concrete goals. The scenery gets repetitive.