Joe the Lumberjack has had his lumber jacked by a bunch of beaver bandits led by a big boss named Bustin. It’s now up to Joe to bash his way to Bustin and bust him but good.
Such is the premise of Lumber Jacked (hence the name), which leads to a series of platforming challenges for you to guide Joe through in his effort to get wood. Joe has a few good moves at his disposal, including a dashing punch, a double-jump, and a wall-jump, all handy for navigating the wilderness.
Unfortunately, Joe possesses something else: A glass jaw. Though his punch is formidable, his endurance is not, and just the slightest touch of any hazard will lay him out and send you back to the start. This might not be such a problem, except the controls are an odd mix of responsive and cumbersome, depending on what actions you attempt to perform.
His dashing punch has quite a bit of distance to it, yet a rather miniscule hit box, which means that it’s just as likely to put you in danger (read: get you killed) as it is to vanquish whatever lies before you. Jumping feels a bit haphazard at times, and while it works well when jumping freely, it’s when you’re near walls that things get ugly.
In particular, there are some irritating parts in the second lot of stages in which you have to get to the bottom of a spike-filled pit, and venture off to the side in order to reach your goal. Against the wall, Joe slides down almost painfully slow, while freefall has him plummet like a rock– so fast that it can be exceedingly difficult to take any action before he gets skewered. Suffice to say, the controls could use some tweaking.
Each stage can be won with up to three stars in ranking, awarded for getting through in a particular time. However, it’s a very narrow margin, and difficult to imagine anyone being able to compensate for the controls in such a way that getting a three-star rank on every level is achievable. Each stage also contains a red flannel shirt to pick up, though there seems to be little incentive for doing so– even being allowed to take an extra hit would have been nice and made sense.
The graphics in the game are nice, though a bit small if you’re running it on an iPhone. Still, it gives you a nice view of everything around you. An interesting twist is the surprising inclusion of a rock soundtrack accompanying the gameplay, though it’s pretty much the same single tune running throughout the entirety of the game.
Don’t get us wrong: Lumber Jacked is playable. It’s fun enough in the early goings, as you compensate for the eccentricities of the controls and get to where you’re going. But as you get further, there’s less margin for error, and it feels more like the controls themselves are an obstacle to overcome. It’s at that point the game feels less fun and more arduous to play.
That said, with enough practice you can probably get through everything it puts before you. Unfortunately, it ceases to be enjoyable in doing so well before that point. Maybe with some fine-tuning it would be better, but for now, it’s one to approach with some caution.