In Lumberwhack: Defend the Wild (out now, $2.99), a side-scrolling castle defense game, unscrupulous men are roaming the forest chopping down trees and snaring animals. Koko Kornelius, a brave blue monkey, summons his forest friends, and together they fight back.

screen480x480For some unexplained reason, chains of bananas grow on vines atop woody trees rather than on regular banana trees. Anyhow, it’s with these bananas that Koko hires defensive aid. With simple taps left or right of the screen, you can make Koko move back and forth to harvest bananas. He also is adept at throwing coconuts at the lumberjacks, and he’s got some special skills at hand, such as to speed up his coconut tossing or to drop a bunch of coconuts on the ground for the apes to pick up and throw.

As you progress up the levels, you will unlock new animals and skills. The first few animals you’ll meet include a gorilla who’s muscled enough to take several beatings, a tiger who’s fast and lethal but also vulnerable, an alligator who can surprise the enemy from behind, and a cobra who poisons the enemy from afar by spitting on them. You’ll get to free these animals from cages after beating batches of lumberjacks.

Bananas aren’t the only in-game currency. Sometimes after the lumberjacks are killed, they’ll leave behind some meat, which functions similarly to bananas. Occasionally, the humans will also drop acorns. These you can use to upgrade your animals and skills. The only downside to the meat and acorns is Koko will have to leave his safe post in the trees and descend to gather the items. In addition, if you don’t manage to pick up the acorns before winning a level, they’ll be left behind. This is one small flaw in the game, and it’s not always your fault; sometimes the last one or two lumberjacks to drop may deposit the acorns.

The enemies are nicely varied. They’re armed with axes and chainsaws, bombs and helmets, etc. They’ve even got medics and men who parachute into the middle of your forest. The latter tend to be simpler to kill, but you’ve got to watch out for them since they can drop behind your defenses and catch you unawares. And if you venture too close to the enemy camp, the toxic fumes from their machinery will poison your animals.

Altogether, Lumberwhack: Defend the Wild offers 66 levels.

iFanzine Verdict: Many side-scrolling castle defense games of this type tend to be a repetitive bore, but happily, Lumberwhack: Defend the Wild makes for some fun action. Though it could still get repetitive over time, the game keeps you busy moving Koko around while summoning other animals. In addition, you’ve got to defend a row of the trees rather than just one home base. The skills and upgrades are probably the best part of Lumberwhack. Tower defense fans should certainly give this a try.