Jack Lumber made its debut at PAX East 2012, offering a fresh spin on the swipe-and-slash gameplay established by Fruit Ninja. Coming this summer to iPad, iPhone, and eventually Android, Jack Lumber follows a lumberjack whose grandmother was brutally killed by a malicious pine tree. After manifesting telekentic and time-warping superpowers, Jack Lumber has taken it upon himself to uproot entire swathes of forest and earn vengence the only way he knows how: chopping.
The gameplay will seem very familiar the second a bunch of logs come popping up into the air, but it differs from Fruit Ninja in that the movement of your targets slows when you press on the screen. You then have a limited amount of time to trace your finger through the logs, but you have to make sure that it's along the grain - otherwise, the logs drop to the ground, beligerant and unchopped. The game quickly complicates by throwing innocent woodland creatures to avoid, kegs of dynamite, knotted logs that require multiple swipes, and time bonus logs to extend the annihilation of your arboreal foes.
Even among the many console titles at PAX East 2012, Jack Lumber leaped out to me as the one with the most personality. Sure, it's a little derivative of Fruit Ninja, but that's not a bad thing, and they've added enough new mechanics to erase any feeling of oversimilarity. The lumberjack theme is a largely untouched in iOS games, and these guys were tackling it with panache by dishing out buttons at the show bearing a salty domain they snagged: "F-cktrees.com". I'm half-expecting some environmentalists to cause a lot of noise about this one, but Owlchemy Labs is no stranger to controversy; their last title, Smuggle Truck, was about getting Mexican babies across the border. That proved a little too spicy for Apple, so Owlchemy released a game with stuffed animals instead and called it Snuggle Truck.
When Jack Lumber launches this summer, we can expect it to have Game Center support, be universal, and support the new iPad's Retina display resolution. They have full intentions of launching the game on any platform with a touchscreen, so sit tight, Android users.