Lumber Jacked is a side-scrolling platformer RPG with pixel graphics. Players take the role of Joe, a Lumber Jack whose wood was stolen by beaver bandits led by Bustin Beaver. Players enter the forest, risk their lives, attack dangerous animals, and avoid the traps so as to find Bustin and have the wood back.
Following a gameplay similar to that of the Mario Bros, Lumber Jacked stirs up old memories about the classic series. The protagonists move right or left, walk, jump, avoid wandering beavers and crabs or fish jumping high into the air, and fetch the tiny coats along the way. Clearing a level unlocks the next one while once 15 levels in a world have been opened up, the next world will be accessible.
Lumber Jacked is anything but a stultifying knockoff. For one thing, it embraces the mobile platform, offering a set of familiar touchscreen controls. The four buttons at bottom, for moving right or left, attacking and jumping could hardly be simpler and more familiar to us.
For another thing, it also adds twists and turns to the decades-old gameplay. Along the adventure, players not only encounter beavers and dangerous crabs, they also have to climb up perpendicular walls, jump between walls, and avoid flying arrows and huge spikes. All the animals and traps are extremely fatal, and a single touch would claim the protagonists’ lives.
Probably the best and most thrilling casual adventure game ever, Lumber Jacked brings the toughest side-scrolling adventure. In many cases, I move between platforms, jump up and up like a Kungfu master to the upper structure, keep away from the hideously greedy fish, only to slide onto a wall with spikes and die. And there are no such things as absolutely safe places or hopelessly perilous spots in this game. Players could easily hit spikes while launching attacks, start sprinting in the air before falling into water, or slip into deadly pit after successfully shying away from a vicious animal. And the flying saws and boards that tilt due to gravity, and rolling structures that would throw players down if they stay longer inside than they should, also promise surprises and dangers along the way.
Even if the game provides the most engaging and challenging experience, it doesn’t look attractive enough. It is true that it applies the pixel art to such extent that all the characters, levels and even level reports are all portrayed in the reminiscent style. And the overemphasis on retrospection regrettably isn’t coupled with any effort on improving the unclear and simple graphics. And naturally, the game never appeals visually as most of the titles on iOS have done.
Moreover, only 60 levels are available for now, with more to be expected. Given that those levels are so difficult that it sometimes takes quite a few attempts to get through, it isn’t likely that players, after having completing all the present 60 levels, are willing to replay previous levels which they have already repeated so many times. A few hours into this, and it’s all over.
Games with classic gameplay and novel twists are always welcomed but it is more than reasonable to expect dazzling graphics and not so short-lived gaming experience other than intoxicating adventures alone.