There’s one very specific, subjective to measure the quality of an iOS game. Does it stay on my iPad after I have played enough to review it? Although my iPad may be a shiny iPad 3, its also a somewhat wimpy 16 GB model, meaning that any game on there has to work hard to justify its existence. Is it sufficient for this review then to say that Jack Lumber is still on my iPad? No? Ok, let me say more!
Developed by Owlchemy Labs and published by Sega, Jack Lumber is a well presented game that more than justifies its place even with your limited storage capacity. It’s an accessible, casual affair, but its also curiously addictive an well presented too. It has a bleak humour to it that you wouldn’t expect from such a bright, cartoon-inspired title and wickedly addictive gameplay too.
Jack’s justification for his tree genocide is simple. “A tree killed his granny and now he is out for revenge. Meet Jack Lumber, the superhuman lumberjack who hates trees, loves animals, and hates trees. Did we say that twice? The guy really hates trees.”
The actual gameplay is very simple, but surprisingly for this kind of title, its actually fairly original. While titles like Angry Birds actually cribbed there gameplay from existing retro and flash games, I can’t think of a title Jack Lumber steals its central gameplay idea from. Its a simple one though; logs fly up in the air and you try to slice a clean line through them. As soon as you touch the screen time slows, allowing to to split them down the middle and draw one long looping path through all the logs on screen. Bonuses are awarded for slicing through more than one log in a long continuous line, and you need to make sure you split the logs down the centre or you lose your combo.
The challenge comes in the different types of logs that you must slice. Some are curved requiring a bend in the cut while others spin fast or requiring multiple slices to split. The challenge then comes not from slicing as many logs as fast as possible, as in Fruit Ninja, but rather in finding the best line to trace that hits every log on screen. As a result its slightly slower paced but requires more thought. The addition of animals that you must avoid means that care must be taken and you can’t rush too much.
The animals that you save appear back in your cabin, a hub where you can push them around to produce amusing reaction sounds or chat with your beaver who offers advice and tells jokes. The cabin is a nice palette cleanser between levels and highlights the games quirky theme and sense of humour. Notes posted under the door offer further advice. Each level meanwhile has a number of optional goals like in Jetpack Joyride, and overall there’s a sense of fun and subtle charm throughout all aspects of the games presentation.
And its still on my iPad. Jack Lumber made that esteemed group of game that justifies its memory footprint for play during flights, long journeys, when waiting for a friend or during a conversation when the other person starts a long sentence. It’s so accessible and quick that you can play for 15 seconds or 15 minutes. A solidly enjoyable, cheap and cheerful casual classic.
8 chopped stump chumps out of 10