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Daily iPhone App: It's called Lumber Jacked, and it's okay

I first saw Lumber Jacked earlier this year at GDC. It's from Everplay Interactive, the folks behind the great Spell Sword, and while they're currently working on a followup to that one called Ace of Blades, Lumber Jacked is a smaller project they decided to deliver in the meantime. It's currently available in the App Store right now, and Everplay has priced it at US$0.99.

The game is a "speedrun platformer," similar to the League of Evil series, or Mikey Shorts, if you've ever played those (and you should). The idea is that you control a little lumberjack through a series of 2D levels, jumping and punching to get through as quickly as you can. There are lumberjack vests to collect in every level and a beaver to punch at the very end, so the object is to collect the vest and get to the beaver as quickly as you possibly can. Each level is rated up to three stars, so the goal is to earn as many stars as possible.

Lumber Jacked is a lot of fun -- the controls are very well implemented, and that's exactly what you want with a game like this. Your little lumberjack can punch forward, wall jump and bounce around the levels with ease, and while there are plenty of dangers to move past, you definitely feel in control of the little guy.

Unfortunately, there are a few misfires here as well. First, there's no metagame at all -- not only can't you customize the lumberjack (it'd be nice to buy something with all of those stars you've collected), but I don't see any leaderboards either. Part of the fun of a game like Mikey Shorts is not only competing against your own time, but competing against others as well, and Lumber Jacked just avoids that whole possibility completely for some reason. And this last one is weird, but your lumberjack's death is strangely avoided in the game: Whenever you lose (which can be often), you are fired right back into a "Game Over" screen, and sometimes it's unclear just what mistake you made to end the level.

All of those concerns are easily fixed, however, and it makes sense that Everplay didn't go whole hog on this one, given that it's meant to be an appetizer for the main entree that is Ace of Blades. Despite those issues, Lumber Jacked is a great platformer, and offers a lot of excellent levels to play through. You can grab it right now for 99 cents.

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