What goes up, must come down. This is the embodiment of any simple arcade game, especially Timberman (available now on iOS, Android), an “an oldschool arcade style casual game” with a lot more going for it than Flappy Bird — its spiritual predecessor — could ever muster.
Here’s the premise: a team of time-travelling lumberjacks have reached Gaia, the immortal tree mother and have to chop at her as fast as possible, lest she grow too tall and cover the sun itself. With meteorite axes fused in the heart of the sun, each swipe of Gaia removes another chunk from her life-force. They are more than lumberjacks, they’re the saviours of earth itself.
Now, all of that was made up but it sound about right. There is no story to Timberman, just the swing of an axe and the hope of a high score.
In Timberman, you tap either left or right to chop at a presumably infinite tree trunk. Chop at either side, but do your best to avoid incoming branches. One hit of these, and it’s game over. Each chop lowers the tree, as well as a branch. There’s a greedy timer as well that runs on the top of the screen, and is refilled with each chop of the tree.
To sum it up, if you’ve played Flappy Bird, Bit. Trip Runner or any one of the billions of infinite running games, you’ll love Timberman. It’s just newer, faster and has better controls. Also, the chop-chop-chopping rhythm of the axe is hypnotically soothing.
Take heed. Timberman’s a retro game so at this point in the review, you either hate it instantly or love it dearly. The barrage of cutesy 8-bit games are fun, but have begun to wear thin. I’m no game developer, but isn’t it more satisfying to simply have clean, sharp graphics instead of a pixelated mess? I like the graphics, and the gameplay is undemanding enough to warrant Timberman’s pared-down aesthetic. I’ve just grown weary of these 8-bit aping games. Expect for Shovel Knight. I love you, Shovel Knight.
Timberman carefully balances frustration with necessity thanks to an incredibly simple control-scheme of tapping either left or right to chop. Chop well enough, and unlock ten cutesy Timbermen which thankfully have no effect on the gameplay.
A quick word about the in-game adverts: The ad’s are fairly irritating but for a scant US$1, these can be turned off. For those who don’t want to pay up, they’re in for a bad time. There’s a constant cycling ad on top which takes up a tenth of the screen, and a full-screen ad that appears randomly after every other game. At one point, these ads kept constantly appearing but I’ll be damned if they get my dollar.
Verdict: Chop trees, compete for the highest score, rinse and repeat. Great game, pity about the pop-up ads that hack away at a fun experience .
Score: Timberman gets an entertaining 8/10