A side-scrolling SNES game with great graphics and intriguing game play is a cause for celebration (the last good one was T2: Judgment Day by Acclaim). Sales Curve/THQ's The Lawnmower Man has these elements, and it'll surprise a lot of gamers.
Lawn and Order
For Dr. Angelo and his human guinea pig, Jobe, virtual reality has supplanted the real world, and now both are locked in a life-and-death struggle for the information highway known as Cyberspace. In The Lawnmower Man, you play as either Dr. Angelo or Carla (Dr. Angelo's close friend and confidante) in the race to prevent Jobe from gaining the intelligence and the power he needs to rule Cyberspace.
To stop Jobe and his massive intellect, you need some intelligent weaponry. You come equipped with a gun, and you can pick up different power-ups for your weapon, along with Compact Discs for a body-protecting Virtual Cybersuit, Homing Bombs, and screen-clearing Smart Bombs. You need all these and then some to destroy a horde of virtual villains, including Virtual Chimps, VSI guards, ravenous guard dogs, and more. You fight through eight levels, including a Warehouse, The Shop, the Cyber Tube, and Suburbia.
- At the beginning of the first stage, shoot while running, but beware of the last guard. He crouches as he shoots, and he'll most certainly kill you unless you jump.
- To access Virtual Flying Portals, you must shoot them repeatedly until they flash green and the words "Access Granted" appear in them.
Each level has its own dangers and pitfalls, and strewn throughout are Access Portals. You must pass through these in order to move on to other sections of the game. Entering the Portals plunges you into a first-person-perspective flying game. The objective here is to fly past obstacles to the exit in one piece, but some Portals are Cyber War Zones, where you must knock off a specified number of enemies.
- The easiest way to stay alive in the flying sequences is to use the L and R triggers to steer instead of the directional pad. Use the cross hairs in the center of the screen as a guide to aim your virtual self through tight spaces.
- Power up your gun (use the A Button) and blast everything, including barrels. There are power-ups and discs hidden everywhere.
Computer terminals also pose a mind-bending problem throughout the game. When you reach a terminal, you must destroy it by playing a brain-straining aptitude game. Match numbers, shapes and sizes correctly and the computer self-destructs, unloading goodies and discs to aid you.
The graphics in The Lawnmower Man are nicely detailed and well illustrated. Great attention was put into the details, like the heat waves surrounding the Flame Men or the small Laser Packs on the backs of the Virtual Chimps. The Virtual Flying sections are colorful, with great polygon- rendered graphics. The hands of the virtual flyer sticking out in front of the screen area nice 3D touch.
To get rid of the pesky grenade-launching guards that drive this car, simply power-up, shoot, and jump on the car when it comes towards you. If you see a guard lob a grenade, run to the opposite side of the screen.
The sounds are also well done. You hear every explosion, every helicopter blade, and every weapon charge with amazing clarity. There are some great voice effects too, like the computer warmly saying "Access Granted" in the sultriest tones imaginable. You may want to stay in Cyberspace for a while.
- When shooting barrels, stay back a distance. Some contain toxic materials that explode on contact.
- Watch out for manholes in the street. When a lid pops off a manhole, it could sail around the screen and kill you.
Controlling characters in this game is tricky, which juices the challenge up the difficulty scale. If you aren't wearing your Cybersuit, you can lose a life with one hit, and in most flying stages one collision with an object costs you a life. The flying sequences are the hardest to control, so be prepared for some fatal frustration.
After the second Portal, jump down to the street, move left, and you'll find a computer.
Mow Town Magic
Don't expect to walk through Cyberspace untouched. The game throws enemies at you like a chimp throws...well, anyway, it's no cake walk. So what makes this stand out from most side-scrollers? There's an intelligent mix of fun, surprises, and good graphics to make this a winner. Be prepared to play this one over and over again. Also be prepared to enjoy it. This is the most fun you can have with reality, virtual or not, so buckle up and kick some grass with The Lawnmower Man.