Long hazy Summer days spent cutting the lawns of neighbours to raise some cash for youthful entertainment. The memories come flooding back. Well, they would have had that actually happened. My youthful Summers were spent scrounging cash from my parents and doing pretty much as little as possible. But apparently in the 1950s kids cutting peoples lawns for cash was quite the done thing.
But as I know from cutting my own lawn (which I vaguely remember doing some years ago), this is a task that is incredibly dull. So when Zordix AB decided to make a DSiWare game based around cutting grass, I had to question whether a watching paint dry game would have been more interesting. As it happens, the developers have managed to inject some fun and challenge into this quite dull task, but is it enough to make a game?
The game revolves around three kids back in the 1950s who want to raise some cash to enjoy their Summer. In a typically entrepreneurial way, they have managed to borrow three lawnmowers from Mr Mowman and now have a selection of clients who want their grass-covered gardens trimmed down to size. If only the gardens were filled with only grass.
Cutting the grass is as easy as drawing a path with the stylus for each of the industrious youngsters. With 25 levels to trim, players will be awarded bronze, silver or gold depending on their performance. But there are two factors that are sure to cause a headache for the young mowers, beyond the very real possibility of sunstroke.
First of all, the gardens come in different shapes and sizes, and are filled with different obstacles that are desigend to hinder the children. Each of the kids has a different lawnmower and, as a result, different strengths and weaknesses. One may have a lawnmower which only cuts a thin path, but can do it really quickly and nimbly. Another has a big, sit-on mower that cuts huge swathes through the lawn, but is slow and and lacks maneuverability. With flowerbeds that, if accidentally trimmed, will result in an angry owner coming running, tight corners and American teenagers playing football, there is a certain amount of strategy to where you send each of your lawnmowers for best effect.
The further they travel unhindered, the faster they get. But it is very easy to snag a flowerbed, get caught in between two bushes or get hit by a ball, all of which can bring the player to a halt and slow down the proceedings. This would be no big deal, were it not for the time limit. Each of the levels has a time limit that the player must adhere to, and this fact alone raises the difficulty level and makes the game a real challenge.
But therein lies one of the flaws of the game – it is so damn difficult. Even the first few levels, which should ease the player into the mechanics, can leave the player bemused. Achieving anything beyond the lowest award of Bronze is nigh on impossible. When you combine this with the inherent repetition of just drawing paths on the touchscreen, the result can be somewhat frustrating.
The game is well polished for a DSiWare game and looks really good. The gameplay mechanics are easy to pick up, but can be imprecise when drawing around the irregular shapes of the gardens. 1950s Lawn Mower Kids is available for 500 DSiPoints, which is not a bad price considering how long this game will take to complete.
1950s Lawn Mower Kids is a fun distraction to begin with, but quickly becomes frustrating due to the tight time limits. Whilst this will potentially put off the casual crowd, gamers looking for a challenge will certainly get their moneys worth from this title. It is certainly more fun than cutting the grass in real-life, but only because you won’t get complaints from the neighbours for not finishing it.