The Lawnmower Man
- The Lawnmower Man (1993 on DOS, 1994 on SEGA CD, 1995 on Macintosh)
The Lawnmower Man is the game based on the 1992 movie of the same name (itself loosely based on a Stephen King short story) starring pre-Bond fame Pierce Brosnan as Dr. Lawrence Angelo, a scientist working for Virtual Space Industries in "Project 5", a secret research that attempts to increase the intelligence of primates using psychotropic drugs and VR training.
With his reluctance to aim the research to military purpose, after one of the chimps escapes and shoots a guard in the process he is given a forced vacation, and while taking notes on the need for experiment with a human subject, he notices Jobe Smith (Jeff Fahey), a simpleton who makes his living on odd jobs such as mowing the grass (hence, the title role). The first experiments quickly increase Jobe's intelligence, and while after an accident Angelo stopped the experiments, The Shop, a secret agency overviewing Project 5, reinserted the drugs responsible for violent behaviour into the program and sped up the treatment. As Jobe starts to develop telekinetic powers, he starts to take revenge on those who abused him before he started the treatments, and plots to take over all computers in the world.
While the CD version of the game (PC, Mega CD) is an interactive movie, both cartridge versions are platformers, the player taking control of Dr. Angelo or Carla Parkette (mother of Jobe's best friend) in typical side-scrolling shooting action. The player can collect better weapons or data discs, which after collecting a number of them allow to morph into the Virtual Suit, which gives protection against a first hit. The player visits several locations seen in the movie, such as the gas pump and the VSI headquarters.
The twists of the game are true-3D level connectors, based on the CG sequences of the movie, usually all involving avoiding obstacles (and the occasional shooting) at high speed in the VR world. There are four different (Virtual World, Cyber War, Cyber Run and Cyber Tube), each taking a slightly different approach (Virtual World is seen in first person, the objective being dodging obstacles such as trees and archs and reach the exit, Cyber War similar to Virtual World but with some shooting stops, Cyber Run is seen in third person and requires occasional shooting of obstacles, while Cyber Tube is a fast travel with plenty of enemies in a VR tunnel).
- バーチャルウォーズ - Japanese spelling
Credits (Game Boy version)
Average score: 72% (based on 18 ratings)
Average score: 2.1 out of 5 (based on 21 ratings with 1 reviews)
The Lawnmower Man easily has one of the better sound tracks for a Super Nintendo Game, it creates a mood around the game and will get stuck into your head. Simply one of the best parts of the game.
The story itself follows the Lawnmower Man movie pretty well but takes several liberties for the sake of making it platformer friendly. You know who all the important characters are and you get a pretty good gist of the plot. So if you haven't seen the movie you may end up not understanding some of it without playing the game. In fact, by playing the game before the movie you get a better understanding of the film and you may like it that much more.
The enemies and the AI itself are fairly smart. While you're usually just mowing down soldiers (pun fully intended), they at least have the brains to duck and fire back at you. The level bosses, though they don't require more then staying in a place their guns don't reach and firing away, are quiet clever in their design.
My biggest compliant about this game was the cyber world missions. During breaks between the platformer stages, players have to go into the cyber world and get from one end to the other (sometimes shooting stages, dodge obstacle stages, and cyber run stages). These stages require a lot of trial and error, mostly due to the fact that you can't react fast enough to the changing environment. The hit detection feels a little off (even for SNES standards) and sometimes you have no idea if a hit will kill you or not. This wouldn't be so much of a problem if you didn't have to do them so frequently but they are a big part of the game and if you are no good at them (or just get frustrated with them like me) you will not get very far.
Another problem would be how the game handles itself in the platforming department. Using you weapons and upgrading them are no problem and at times are even quiet fun but when it comes time to jump the bottomless pit boy can it get frustrating. There is no run function so you can't build up momentum to ensure you make it to the other side of the platform, you just have to pray that you jumped close enough to the edge to make it. This isn't so much of a problem earlier in the game where falling typically means having to go back up and try again but it really starts to become a pain later on in the game.
While a good game is challenging, a great game makes you want to keep going and Lawnmower Man doesn't make you keep going. In fact, after getting the game over screen just once you think "That's it, I'm done. Its not like I have any physical proof of my accomplishments in this game (since the password screen doesn't save your scores) " and then you pop in your favorite game for the SNES.
The Bottom Line
Basically, its standard movie game stuff. You don't need to play it to like the movie but playing the game first does make the movie seem somewhat more epic then it probably has any right to be.
Since the game wasn't all that hot back then it obviously hasn't changed much since you last played it. Sure its attempt at virtual reality looks painfully shallow then most open world games look but this game really didn't focus much on virtual reality instead just trying to scoot by as just a platformer (kind of like when you work on a project in school just to get the passing grade so you can be done with it and never have to see it again).
If you own the game already then it won't hurt you to play it again. If you don't own it and are curious about it don't go out of your way to get it (as in don't go farther then garage sales or 2nd hand stores for it), Cause honestly this game would have been weekend rental material back in the day and no matter how rare it maybe today by collectors standards, its not worth more then $5 at most.
SNES · by Lawnmower Man (137) · 2008
Are you familiar with this game? Help document and preserve this entry in video game history! If your contribution is approved, you will earn points and be credited as a contributor.
Contributors to this Entry
Game added by Luis Silva.
Game added December 7, 2005. Last modified July 4, 2023.