Wasn't this on iPhone or iPad?
Swedish company Zordix hit the ground running with an impressively basic-yet-addictive action puzzle effort by the name of Valet Parking 1989 on Nintendo’s DSi download service. Now the team is back with yet another piece of simple fun based around a theme from yesteryear. Welcome to 1950s Lawn Mower Kids on DSiWare.
When people cast their minds back to classic games from the ‘good ol’ days,’ one particular effort that springs to mind is Paperboy, with a young lad eager to earn some extra cash busily cycling along, launching rolled up newspapers all over the place. Whilst not pushing the boat out in terms of gameplay techniques employed, it was pure, simple fun. This is definitely what Zordix has aimed for with 1950s Lawn Mower Kids, just as with its previously DSiWare title, Valet Parking 1989. Tom, Nancy and Tim (the TNT-kids) are looking for ways to garner a little extra coinage, and with the help of their trusty neighbour, the aptly named Mr. Mowman, they get their wish, borrowing some lawn-mowing equipment and setting off on their entrepreneurial endeavour of making plenty of pocket money over the summer period by chopping as much grass as possible.
The last game from Zordix relied solely on touch-screen navigation, and the same is true here with 1950s Lawn Mower Kids, with deft use of the stylus being fundamental to success when trying to mow lawns as quickly as possible whilst dodging all sorts of obstacles and hazards. Each child has his or her own contraption to ride around in, each with its own strengths and weaknesses in order to throw in some variety. Do you favour speed over the area of land covered, or do you prefer a happy medium? The twenty-five lawns that can be tackled allow for the use of all three children at once, with the D-pad used to scroll around a garden and the stylus to highlight an eager youth and draw out a pathway for them to follow, with it possible to extend the route by swiftly drawing once more from the original end point. The aim is to fulfil the quota of grass cuttings before the time limit runs out, whilst also avoiding crashing into each other, being attacked by random pets, or destroying nicely kempt flowerbeds or well laid tables.
The whole experience can be quite tense for the most part, but sometimes for the wrong reasons. For instance, as gardens are large, a lot of camera panning is required and there are two major drawbacks with the current system. First of all the D-pad movement is restricted when drawing new paths for the children, and secondly there is no automatic scrolling when jotting down a specific route that heads off the edge of the current view. Considering how speedy even the slowest character’s machine is, especially when speed bonuses kick in, the designated course is normally completed by the time the camera has been moved across to another of the 1950s Lawn Mower Kids to instigate the next step of the plan. This oft results in only one person moving at any one time, unless you keep all three within the confines of the small space shown on the Nintendo DSi system’s screen, and consequently the timer runs out.
When it works, 1950s Lawn Mower Kids is just as engaging as Valet Parking 1989, yet there are too many constraints to elevate it to the same level. Zordix has done a great job of once more taking a rudimentary source of gameplay and developing it into an intriguing product for today’s world. Attempting to obtain the highest possible medal on every level is quite a tough feat, and only true experts will gain access to the bonus stages, but the fundamental issue with the awkwardness of moving the camera around stunts this game from matching its pseudo-precursor. At 500 Points there is definitely value for money here, but only if you can overcome the camera-related hurdle and dig into the core ‘fun’ of the retro-styled game.
At its heart, the idea of micro-managing a team of three children, each with varying abilities, is sheer brilliance, and the lawn mowing idea works well for the most part. However, issues with the small screen size and restrictions with the camera movement hamper progress, sadly.
Grainy, simplistic visuals that do not give off anywhere near as positive a vibe as Valet Parking 1989 did.
The soundtrack is certainly jaunty in nature, and can be moderately amusing in some respects, but sadly is lacking in memorable themes.
For 500 Nintendo Points, the amount of content is sufficient, if not spectacular considering the amount included in DSiWare releases that even come in at the 200 Points level. However, there is more than enough to keep fans of simple action puzzlers moderately appeased.
After a strong start with Valet Parking 1989, Zordix has managed to craft yet another simplistic action puzzle game with 1950s Lawn Mower Kids that will definitely appeal to anyone looking for a back-to-basics product. Unfortunately, though, despite having some intriguing gameplay mechanics, camera movement restrictions mar the experience overall, holding this back from being what it deserved to be - a cult classic.
Wasn't this on iPhone or iPad?