So what would you do if you are a lumberjack whose lumber’s been jacked by Bustin Beaver, and his band of beaver bandits?
Get revenge of course!
Everplay’s (Spell Sword, 1001 Attempts) latest game, Lumber Jacked is a speed run platformer that pits Joe the lumberjack against a band wood-hungry beavers. Joe races through each of the game’s sixty short levels as quickly as possible, punching beavers and (optionally) trying to find the hidden flannel shirt.
Given the game’s hilarious premise and being a fan of speed run games and Everplay’s work on both Spell Sword and 1001 Attempts, I was eagerly anticipating this game. However what we received was honestly a bit of a let down. Really the main issue that I have with Lumber Jacked is that it just doesn’t take the speed run genre anywhere new, it feels tired and simply like a re-skinned version of games we’ve played before. Where is the innovation?
Typically iOS speed run games have fallen into two categories. On one hand you have League of Evil and League of Evil 2, which go for more open and convoluted level designs, forcing the player to change direction numerous times as they climb toward the goal point, dodging and/or attacking enemies along the way. Then you have the slightly more fluid and arguably faster-paced speed run games like Mikey Shorts and Mos Speedrun which take more linear paths and allow for more means of shaving fractions of seconds off your time.
Lumber Jacked falls squarely in the former category. Basically if you took League of Evil, swapped out the graphics for more muted pixel art, swapped the briefcases for flannel shirts, enemy agents with beavers, made the controls a little more frustrating and cut the number of levels down to about a third, you’d have Lumber Jacked.
Speaking of controls, the game uses left and right arrows for movement and separate buttons trigger your speed punch and jumping. There are two levels of jumping, allowing you to reach higher areas. When you jump toward a wall you’ll stick to it allowing you to climb walls to reach upper sections of levels. Overall, I found this to work fairly well, however there were times when I’d accidentally brushed against a wall and stick resulting in a premature death by missile or some other malady. In areas where the walls were further apart I found it a little awkward to do the wall jumps.
A big frustration I had with the controls comes from the speed punch. While a useful tool for traversing a level quickly (and of course taking out the pilfering beavers), it has an annoying habit of continuing momentum forward even after striking a beaver, which due to the placement of beavers in some levels, will end up dropping you right into a spiked pit and another early death.
I can’t say that Lumber Jacked isn’t entertaining, because sure it is. Although, the games 60 short levels won’t keep you busy for too long unless you are a perfectionist trying to go back and get 3 stars on all levels or find all of the flannel shirts. Normally this is enough to keep me engaged, but for some reason with Lumber Jacked I just didn’t feel the need or desire to make sure I achieved 3 stars on a level before moving on. While a game like Mikey Shorts only has a little more than 80 levels it feels much more robust. It has global leaderboards and unlockable costumes which kept me engaged and interested for quite some time. Game Center leaderboards are oddly absent from Lumber Jacked, though I give Everplay kudos for including iCloud saves.
Lumber Jacked is not a bad game, you just aren’t really getting anything new. If it had come out a year or two ago then sure it would be revolutionary, but in 2013 it just feels tired and games like League of Evil, League of Evil 2 or Mikey Shorts will all give you more bang for your App Store dollar. I’d recommend going with one of these other games instead and waiting to throw your money at Everplay until their Ace of Blades platformer is released.