The Fair Shake


Greetings Readers! Carl’s donned a flannel shirt and is wielding an axe, ready to cut an endless amount of trees down as they pop out of the ground. Help him meet his quota of trees before his boss gets angry! What’s that? I hear someone yelling something in the woods…… TIMBERRRR!!!

Timber was released by Midway Games in 1984. If the main character looks familiar, he should: He moonlights as a bartender in Tapper! Guy gets around… He’s about as skilled with an axe as he is with a beer tap. That is, his skill level depends on yours. You can grab a friend and have them help or hinder you in the role of another lumberjack.

Angry bear is angry.

Your main goal here, as the name suggests, is to control a bartending lumberjack (or lumberjack bartender?) who has a quota of trees to cut. These trees magically grow out of the ground every few seconds. Cut them down in time, and your boss rewards you with a chance to, well, cut down more trees.  It’s not enough to ‘cut’ the tree with your axe, as you must push it down as well, or else it falls on you. This doesn’t kill you, it simply stuns you for a few seconds. As you’re cutting down these beanstalk-like trees, you’ll be avoiding a pissed off bear who hangs around on the sidelines as he takes his anger out on you by flinging…….. beehives… filled with bees. WTF? The bear doesn’t kill you, but the aforementioned bees, however, do. No Epi-pens in the woods apparently.  Did I mention the balancing act? There’s a ‘lets see how long we can stay balanced on a log’ bonus stage. No death or lost lives, just a chance for more points.

How to get wet in 3.. 2.. 1..

If you’ve ever wanted to cut down trees with the flick of a wrist, Timber is for you!  There’s a joystick to move your lumberjack around in four directions alongside a left/right joystick that controls your axe swings. Swing at a tree four times, and then push it away from you. The tree falls. When it works, you’ll feel like you’re cutting down a tree with your hands. A virtual Paul Bunyan. The difficulty is dodging those beehives and making your way to the next tree, as you’ll trip over a cut down tree if you try to cross it, before the timer runs out.

Happy little tree….

Graphically, Timber kind of reminds me of a Saturday morning cartoon, and I mean that in an awesome Snorks- like way, not lame-o Camp Candy. The characters are all quite cartoonish and full of emotion as they finish a stage, trip, cut down trees, get stung by bees, and so on. Your in-game boss looks like a guy that’d shut the door on a girl scout selling cookies. There’s a fun little song tune playing in the background as you chop down trees, and overall, the sounds match the graphics, it feels like a cartoon.

Timber shines as a two player game. You can help or hinder your ‘teammate’, sort of like in River City Ransom on the NES or the arcade game Joust. You can squish your teammate with a tree, gaining 1000 points in the process. The difficulty level is upped a bit by way of a higher quota of trees, but it’s not unmanageable. If you don’t have access to an arcade cabinet of Timber and you’re not too keen on the whole Internet downloading thing, have no fear, as this game was released on the Midway Arcade Treasures 2 compilation disk for Xbox, PS2, and Gamecube. There. Three legal ways to play it! (four, if you count an actual machine). Timber is one of those games that tends to be forgotten, but shouldn’t be. It’s a well put together game that just seemed to fall through the cracks of time, unfortunately. I’m here with an axe to rescue it. Timber is one of my favorite two player arcade games. It very well could become one of yours as well. Next time you’re in a retro arcade mood and need a quick pickup game, try something different. Go cut down a tree, or 19 of them! Give Timber the Fair Shake.