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Anyone who's been to a Portland Timbers game knows that Timber Joey, the official mascot for PDX’s pro-soccer team, isn’t a cartoon character. He’s a burly, larger-than-life, flesh-and-blood man -- albeit one that happens to wear typified logger headwear and a wield a massive chain saw. Of course, the depiction of Timber Joey in a flash animated you-versus-the-hordes arcade game wouldn’t make sense as a real person, so here he is in fact a stylized character, and he’s pretty upset about the abundance of fish (these are the Seattle Flounders) trying to trample through his rose garden.
Considering that Timber Joey is anchored to the ground, it wouldn’t make sense for him to use a chain saw here (plus it'd be a little too messy, with all the fish guts flying around). He is, however, still armed with a trusty axe that he can throw, boomerang style, to the doom of whatever enemies happen to cross his path.
If the conceit of the game sounds familiar, it’s because Timbers Axe is a skin for the aptly named Axe in Face, which has a Scandinavian warrior-type defending a field of sunflowers from beasties who would destroy the flora. In both cases, the gameplay is simple: draw a line for your axe to follow, keeping in mind that you can only throw one axe at a time and enemies are moving forward. Predictive paths are the name of the game here, basically.
The developers also keep things interesting by introducing a couple of additional strategic elements. Foes will occasionally drop soccer balls (they had to make the Timbers license at least somewhat apparent, I guess), which can be used as a superpower to auto-strike three incoming enemies after filling your power meter.
There are also fish carrying coniferous trees (yes, the game uses a lot of Pacific Northwest-themed aesthetics) that can’t be hurt with the axe alone, meaning you’ll have to trace your axe's path through a fire pit in order to ensure its effectiveness as a whirling ball of flaming death before attacking these woodsy adversaries. The challenge does pick up in the later levels, and all in all, the mechanics are handled well.
The bottom line. Although Timbers Axe isn’t very long, it is surprisingly fun -- and it’s free, so what are you complaining about? Bonus: if you like it, you can pick up Axe in Face for a dollar.
iPhone or iPod touch running iOS 3.0 or later
Line drawing and animations are smooth. Surprisingly fun for such a simple premise. License doesn’t overextend its welcome. It’s free.
Difficulty doesn’t ramp up until later levels. The game is short. Not a whole lot of variety. References to the Pacific Northwest will be lost on anyone who doesn’t live there.