19/11/2014

ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER SPRITES 1987-94

Forget about the Muscles from Brussels, Chuck "The Human Meme" Norris and The Ponytail of Power (that's Steven Seagal, of course): today I'm rifling through the videogame career of the one and only Arnold Schwarzenegger by looking at some of the many ways his giant Austrianness was captured as a videogame sprite. His rise as an action star in the Eighties occurred at the same time as the explosion of home gaming, so it's no surprise that not only are there plenty of games based on his movies but that Arnie himself was a model for so many videogame characters. He was built like a videogame character, that's for sure. Anyway, let's get started with Pack-In-Video's attempt to bring Predator to the NES.

Predator, NES, 1988


Well, that hasn't gotten us off to a great start, has it? A pastel pink Arnie who makes a mockery of the concept of camouflage by dressing like an 80s aerobics instructor. Of course, that may well be why he's pink, because if he was dressed in his usual jungle fatigues the player would lose sight of him as he melted into the background. Predator is a very difficult game and I've never made much progress through it, but I assume that instead of fooling the Predator's infrared vision by coating himself in mud, NES Arnie tricks the remorseless alien killer with the liberal application of glitter body gel.


Because Schwarzenegger is famous and it's important that the people buying the game know that it has a famous person in it, this particular sprite history also gives me a chance to share some more detailed likenesses of Arnie from the various title screens and status bars of the games covered. In the case of the the NES Predator it's a pretty good likeness too, even if his eyes have a certain distracted air to them, as though he's trying to remember whether he posted his mum's birthday card before he set off for the jungle.

Predator, Amstrad CPC, 1987


Did I miss a scene in Predator where Dutch was pink or something? Maybe the games are based on an earlier version of the script from before the line "if it bleeds, we can kill it" was changed from "if we paint ourselves fuchsia, we can kill it." Okay, this one I can just about accept as being seen through the Predator's heat vision, even if it does imply that Arnie's armpits, eyeballs and hair are all the same temperature.


His in-game sprite isn't too bad, considering the technological limitations of the time. It's shaped like a human, and a soldier in the jungle might conceivably wear brown clothes. Yeah, I'll take it.

The Running Man, Commodore 64, 1989


In The Running Man, Arnold Schwarzenegger plays Ben Richards, a former cop who must participate in a deadly game show after being framed for a crime he didn't commit. In the Commodore 64 version of The Running Man, he does this in the nude, possibly while smeared with butter.

The Running Man, Amiga, 1989


The graphics are understandably much enhanced in the Amiga port of the game, although I'm not sure that's necessarily a good thing when it brings fresh new detail to Arnie's outfit. While it doesn't capture the "quilted" and "silvery" aspects that this costume possesses in the movie, it is still a bright yellow full-body jumpsuit, the clothing equivalent of a barbed-wire sandwich or a DVD of sex tips presented by your parents - something that could only be used as an extreme punishment for a terrible crime. Hang on, that makes it rather appropriate.
Anatomy-wise it's a mixed bag: Arnie's bicep is as big as his head, which seems about right, but I have no idea what's going on with his lower-right leg. I think his calf has secretly been working out on its own. Overall, it does not seem unreasonable to surmise that Ben Richards was feeling a little sensitive about his weight before his big TV appearance and so he chose a jumpsuit that works like those "illusion slimming" dresses with the panels down the sides.

Red Heat, Amstrad CPC, 1989


Okay, I'm starting to notice a theme here.
Pinkness aside, the the most notable feature of this sprite is that it has captured a facial expression of pure, malevolent evil. A stone-jawed grimace, eyes that are nothing but black pits devoid of emotion - if it it wasn't the colour of chewed bubblegum there could be some real menace to this sprite. At any rate, I now have a good idea of how the Doom movie would have looked like if they'd cast Arnie to the play the Baron of Hell. Awesome, that's how.

Red Heat, Commodore 64, 1989


By comparison, the sprite from the C64 version of Red Heat is a little dull, but at least he's hugely muscular and flesh coloured, a combination it took us a surprisingly long time to reach.



Don't worry, though, because the C64 version of Red Heat isn't without its own moment of graphical madness. In this case it's the loading screen where both Arnold and Jim Belushi have fallen right to the bottom of the uncanny valley. Amateurishly painted shop mannequins with the piercing blue eyes of a white tiger? Nightmarish latex masks like the ones featured in the movie White Chicks? God only knows, but I'd never have thought that Jim Belushi could look the better of the two. Also, in the Red Heat movie poster that this is traced from Jim Belushi has a cigarette hanging out of his gob, but it's been removed for the game's artwork. The fact that ultraviolence remains uncensored while other things are cut is a topic still relevant today, but in Red Heat's case it feels especially egregious because the game's composed of literally nothing but a shirtless man smashing other shirtless men's faces in by headbutting their noses through the backs of their skulls.

Total Recall, ZX Spectrum, 1991


The Spectrum's limited colour palette means that this incarnation of Quaid from Total Recall will cause your eyes to go on strike if you look at it too long, but it does capture the essence of Arnie quite well in that it has a freakishly large upper body. This sprite looks like the Incredible Hulk in slacks and sensible shoes, and it's making me nostalgic for the glory days of Teletext. For those of you not familiar with Teletext it was a sort of television-based pre-internet internet, or movie listings and football scores displayed in chunky pixels if you want to be more prosaic about it. This Arnie would be right at home on Teletext, possibly as a guest host of Bamboozle. There we go, I've set a new record for the reference that only the very narrowest slice of the VGJunk readership will get.

Total Recall, NES, 1991


Still mostly green but in a manner that's much gentler on the eyes, the NES version of Quaid is an oddly put-together sort, a shambling meat-marionette whose waist isn't attached correctly, the legs poking out at unusual angles as he tries to get himself into the pose of a Victorian bare-knuckle fighter.


A good recreation of the Governator's mug on the title screen, mind you: his skull may be a little taller than usual, but a solid likeness on the whole that's topped off with an expression of faint amusement, like maybe he's remember his favourite bits from the movie. "I used an elevator to rip his arms off and then as he was falling to his death I said 'see you at the party, Richter!' so that was cool."

The Terminator, Megadrive / Genesis, 1991


Admittedly I'm not one hundred percent certain that these sprites are supposed to represent Arnold - they could easily be a different model of Terminator, one based on the generic ideal of an eighties action star rather than a specific actor. It definitely doesn't look much like Arnold. The one firing its gun in particular looks far too cheerful to be Arnie. Far too cheerful to be a Terminator, even - this is supposed to be the efficient, emotionless extermination of the human race, not Skynet's Sillytime Smilestravaganza.
Also, the reason that you get not one, not two, but three of the same sprite in the screenshot above is that the Megadrive Terminator game takes place in an alternate Terminator reality where Skynet has the ability to build a new Terminator every seven seconds, leading to an extremely difficult game where killer robots swarm around like germs on a dive bar's urinals and I couldn't get a shot where they weren't overlapping each other like a murderous conga line.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day, NES, 1992


The NES take on Arnold's most famous role sees the T-800 Terminator wearing the biker leathers from the movie and... an eyepatch, possibly? It's hard to tell when the face is made of about 20 pixels. Dare I say that this Terminator is looking a little... chunky? Somewhat well-fed, like maybe they should have called this one Tum-inator 2: Fudgement Day? Oof, I'm sorry, that was bad. Here's a picture to make up for it.


It's nice to have constants in your life, things that are reassuringly unchanging. The fact that metal death skeletons from the future who wear Arnold Schwarzenegger like a winter coat are still The Coolest is one of those constants that I can cling to like driftwood in life's stormy waters.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Commodore 64, 1991


I don't know who this guy is, but he's not Arnold Schwarzenegger. He's the stunt double, the bootleg action figure, the star of The Asylum mockbuster movie The Eradicator. Impressively meaty forearms, though, even if a flat-top so perfectly level that you can land planes on it and a tiny button nose are making him less intimidating than he perhaps should be.


"Hasta maƱana, kid. Follow me if you don't want to die."

Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Amiga, 1991


When Ocean made the Amiga version of Terminator 2, they were aware they had the license and they could have made the characters look like they did in the movie, right? This screenshot is taken from the Terminator's first encounter with the T-1000 in the mall, a scene where Arnie is wearing one of the most iconic outfits in cinema history - an outfit that Ocean apparently decided was just too good to use in their game, and so we get a Terminator wearing a spray-on shirt instead of his famous leather jacket and shades. Would it really have been that difficult to give his some sunglasses? He's even got a more accurately-proportioned nose in this one so they wouldn't slide right off his face.

Last Action Hero, Game Boy, 1993


"Arnold, honey, it's very cold today so make sure you wrap up warm if you're going out to fight crime, okay?"

Last Action Hero, SNES, 1993


Last Action Dad, more like. He reached middle age, saw that his hair was thinning and decided to reclaim his lost youth by buying a leather jacket and some blue jeans but he's not fooling anyone. Just look at those dark circles around his eyes, he's a tired old man with nothing to offer a world obsessed with youth and dynamism, and as such it's hard for me to not sympathise with with him. It's only that fact that he chose a jacket the colour of infant diarrhoea that's stopping me from declaring my solidarity.

Last Action Hero, Amiga, 1994


If your t-shirt is so tight that it shows off each abdominal muscle, then your t-shirt is too tight. Not that I would tell this lumbering sasquatch of a man that, I'd be too worried that his pop my head off and use my skull as a drinking bowl during his primitive bacchanalian rituals. I like that they didn't give him a face, just the idea of a face. It's a daring piece of impressionistic spritework, a Monet of the home console age.


Oh look, they did give him a face. Just not Arnold Schwarzenegger's face.

Alien vs. Predator, Arcade, 1994


As always seems to be the case with these sprite history article, we end on a high note with a Capcom arcade game. For legal reasons the Dutch sprite in Alien vs. Predator might not technically be based on Arnie, but it still totally is and what's more it captures his essence better than any of the others we've seen today. It's huge, it's imposing, it has loosely-defined facial features that still somehow suggest that their owner struggles with English pronunciation and I love it. Even better, someone at Capcom thought "you know what would make Schwarzenegger even cooler? If he had a giant robot arm," and that person was one thousand percent correct. He uses his robot arm to punch xenomorphs right in the mouth. Both their mouths, even, and with that I'm going to end this article and go play some Alien vs. Predator.

15/11/2014

THE LAWNMOWER MAN (GENESIS / MEGADRIVE)

Clear out your neural ports, jack into the virtual cyberzone and pick yourself a radical online hacker handle - I'm thinking W3BW1ZARD666 - because it's time to leave meatspace behind and save the world from some very dated CG graphics. That's right, it's a videogame adaptation of the 1992 Pierce Brosnan movie that was definitely not based on a Stephen King short story, and Mr. King's lawyers will want to have a word with you if say otherwise - it's The Lawnmower Man, brought to the Sega Megadrive in 1994 by Time Warner Interactive!


Now, I've only seen The Lawnmower Man once, and that was probably about twenty years ago, but from what I can remember it's about a guy who is made more intelligent through the liberal application of Virtual Reality. Time and the advent of the YouTube comments section has shown us the people most certainly do not become more intelligent when plugged into computers for long periods of time, but the nineties were a more optimistic time.


Here's the Lawnmower Man himself. His name is Jobe, and he's a simpleton. Hi, Jobe. The super-grainy film capture here is supposed to show Jobe pushing a lawnmower, but to me it looks more like he's ripping red strands of gore from a mutilated carcass. I haven't been sleeping well recently. Some of The Lawnmower Man's later levels might help with that, actually.


This is Dr. Angelo, portrayed by Pierce Brosnan in the move and a small clump of pixels in this game. He's the scientist who does the very scientific and totally ethical brain-tampering on Jobe, and at first it works - Jobe becomes more intelligent, he engages in some virtual reality sex that looks like someone ordered "a commercial for an early-nineties graphics card, but, you know, erotic," and he develops telekinetic powers, as very clever people tend to do. Stephen Hawking's wheelchair doesn't have a motor in it, he pushes it around with his mind.
To make matters worse, a sinister government agency called The Shop tampers with Jobe's VR funtimes, turning him evil to study the potential military applications of an insane cyber-god with magic brain powers who can be contained by no boundaries. The Shop? More like Weyland-Yutani, am I right?


Only Angelo and Carla can break into Jobe's virtual domain and defeat him. Oh, hang on, it says all that in the screenshot. That's what we're going to be doing in this one, then - travelling into the virtual world to confront a madman with a giant head, just like a contestant on GamesMaster. You can choose to play as either Dr. Angelo or Carla, the mother of Jobe's young friend. She presumably has no experience of virtual reality or saving the world, so I think I'm going to go with Pierce Brosnan on this one. There's no difference between the two characters as far as I could see anyway, so let's hurry up and get plugged into the Matrix. Unless "the Matrix" is a legally-protected trademark of Warner Bros., in which case we'll call it "Blocky Floating World" instead.


The future of computer technology, brought vividly to life by the raw power of the Sega Genesis! Remember, Sega does what Nintendon't, except in this case because there was a very similar version of The Lawnmower Man released for the SNES that has more stages and the power of Mode 7 behind it.
Now, it's very easy to scoff at the primitive slabs of scenery on display here, so I will. It's like slowly drifting through a Lego model of post-Blitz Coventry, or a pair of disembodied hands floating along on a mission to throttle whoever built this extremely dull set of shadow puppets. Aside from that, this VR swoosh-em-up works fairly well. You're always moving forwards, and your goal is to make it from one end of the area to the other without smashing face-first into the scenery. Each time you bump into an object you lose a hit point, and when you lose them all you're sent back to the start. You can move left, right, up and down, so presumably you're flying Superman-style and not walking forwards with your arms outstretched like you're trying to find the bathroom in an unfamiliar house with the lights off, and it all controls pretty well: there's enough momentum in your movements to keep things interesting, but not so much that you lurch uncontrollably around the screen. It's hardly the most exciting videogame action you'll ever encounter - which is a shame, because it makes up about 50% of the game - but it's not terrible.


I think I may have found the exit. Okay, now what?


Oh, so The Lawnmower Man is one of these games, by which I mean games that try out a bunch of different gameplay styles without ever focussing on any one style long enough for it to become a satisfying experience. I know I haven't played any of the component parts aside from the VR bit, but I'm still confident in this early assessment.
This is the other large chunk of TLM's gameplay, a generally solid if rather uninspired run-n-gun romp that presents me with a dilemma: I can't tell if it takes place in virtual reality or not. On one hand, Angelo is carrying a gun the size of a small child that launches a shower of small triangles at the rampaging band of tiny, leotard-clad monkey men that swarm towards him, and that makes me think that this may not be the real world. In the other hand, this is all taking place in an otherwise normal suburban street, whereas the last VR area was, well, you saw it and it looked considerably less real than this.


I've decided to put that question out of my mind for now as I concentrate on fighting this unassuming white saloon. You see all those little brown dots? That's what's left of Dr. Angelo after this car hit him. If I'd know he was actually a mound of cappuccino foam masquerading as a human I would have been a bit more careful with him. I should really be more careful in general, because you die in one hit during these side-scrolling stages and enemies tend to appear in your path very suddenly. This car certainly did, but it's pretty easy to jump over, so I did that. Then I jumped over it again when it drove back the other way, and then again, and again. It wasn't until I messed up a jump and landed on the car's roof that I discovered that's what you're supposed to do, and slamming feet-first into the roof makes the car stop. A policeman got out, so I shot him. You'd better hope this is taking place in Virtual Reality, Dr. Angelo, otherwise there are going to be some difficult questions waiting for you when all this is over.


After a bit of running and gunning - gunning down officers of the law, that it, although in my defence they were trying to kill me both through vehicular homicide and then using standard police-issue molotov cocktails - I found a portal to another VR stage. Gameplay-wise it's the same as the last one, but this time I'm flying through Cyber Atlantis. This main difference between Cyber Atlantis and Regular Atlantis is that Cyber Atlantis didn't finish sinking all the way, and if Atlantis was completely decorated in a beige and purple colour scheme then frankly it deserved to be lost beneath the waves.


"Dr. Angelo, drop your weapon and place your hands above your head. Pay no mind time the fiery rainbow that encircles me. All policemen have that here in what is most definitely the real world. You have the right to an attorney. You have the right to be incinerated down to your component atoms by my fiery rainbow. You have the right to either remain silent or issue a blood-curdling scream, it's your choice."


This miniboss fight against a man on a motorcycle isn't that interesting by itself, but I would like to point out that his black shirt makes it look as though there's just a set of limbs and a head riding that thing. He also appears to be shooting a jet of flame from his knee. That's why Dr. Angelo's wearing kneepads, they contain the raging knee-fires that beset everyone who meddles with Virtual Reality.


Now we're in another cyber zone, one that looks like Angelo has somehow warped himself inside an Atari 2600 game, but something's different. Have you spotted what it is? That's right, his health bar is slightly longer. Oh, and his right hand is a gun now.


That's because this is a Cyber War Zone, and periodically you'll be stopped so that you can engage in the carnival game that is shooting these little robots. The giant THREAT icon hovering around them is - and I do hope I'm not Alanis Morisette-ing the word here - ironic, because they're about as threatening as a feather pillow behind an inch of safety glass. They do shoot at you, but as long as you keep moving from side to side they'll never hit you, and in the whole game I think I managed to take damage from them once. This might make the shooting sections sound boring, and they are - they're easy enough to be frivolous but long enough to grind on your patience - but this is the part of The Lawnmower Man that I think could have benefited from being a game in it's own right. The scrolling is smooth, aiming is accurate and it's the most unique of the game styles, so with more focus, more enemies and more challenge you could build something enjoyable on these foundations. That didn't happen, though, so enjoy plinking away at the one enemy type the Cyber War Zones have to offer.


Oh cool, I found a helicopter! You get to fly it and everything, so I'll use it to traverse this gap where a bridge has been destroyed. Now I just have to land it. Easy... easy... there we go, I've got it!


I don't got it. I never got it, in fact - I tried several times, and I could not for the life of me figure out how to land this helicopter without it exploding and killing me. I approached the landing with all the care and delicacy I could muster, but the second the skids brushed the ground with all the lightness of an angel's kiss Angelo was killed in the ensuing fireball. In the end I just gave up and took the loss of a life. I'm sure it'll be fine. Collecting all the CDs that fly out of the enemies you kill will probably give me an extra life eventually anyway.


"If they have a problem with you, and if they can find you, then maybe you can be killed by... The A-Team! Daaah dah daah daaah, dah dah dahhh!"


Then I had to fight a pair of petrol pumps. That was easy enough, but I wasn't expecting a burning man to emerge from the wreckage. I mean, I wasn't expecting to be fighting petrol pumps either but I thought destroying them would be the end of it, you know? I'm not sure who this person is, but going by the sign on the gas station I think it must be Harley. Sorry about ruining your livelihood and then setting you on fire, Harley, but this kind of collateral damage has to be expected when you're trying to take down a evil super-intelligent computer force. I can't help be feel somewhat responsible, because I am almost entirely responsible.


Somewhere in the depths of cyberspace, the unholy union of man and hang-glider soars through a subpar recreation of Sonic the Hedgehog 2's special stage. It was no fun for anyone.
Thankfully the least common of The Lawnmower Man's stages are these tube flyer affairs, ugly experiences of being trapped in a dimension filled with unwanted Christmas ornaments where the high speeds and twitchy controls mean that trying not to bump into the sides and thus lose health quickly becomes painfully frustrating, especially given the general pleasantness of the other stages. It feels, both graphically and mechanically, like these stages were handed off to the work experience kid just so they had something to do besides make the tea. I'd like to say that The Lawnmower Man's mix-and-match approach to gameplay types was an attempt to capture the fractured natured of existing in both the real world and the virtual realm but a) that sounds pretentious as hell and b) I'm pretty sure it's not true.


Now I'm in some kind of factory, and the graphics artist seem to have gone on strike. It's very grey. Very grey indeed, and mostly composed of slender platforms and lifts that expose huge tracts of the bland, unchanging background. It's a shame, because up until now I've been really enjoying the graphics of the non-VR sections - they're in that really small, fine style that I like, and they're mostly quite interesting.


I don't have anything to say about this VR stage beyond "listen to this".


Aww, the Non-Threatening Robots have built themselves a little castle, how adorable! Unfortunately, their habit of standing right in the windows and having the front door open means that the castle offers little protection from whatever it is I'm shooting at them. Little balls of anti-virus software, maybe?


Okay, the side-scrolling stages must take place in virtual reality because I'm fighting giant robot wasps, and those don't exist in the real world. I would have heard about giant robot wasps if they were an actual thing, mostly through newspaper headlines like ROBOT WASP MENACE TO END HUMAN CIVILIZATION and ROBOT WASPS ENSLAVE ALL, EAT JAM.
Thankfully I had just the right weapon to take them down. There are three types of gun available in The Lawnmower Man - a narrow spread shot that fires the aforementioned little triangles in a mostly horizontal direction, a laser that rebels against the very concept of firearms by having its projectiles randomly turn at 90 degree angles, making it almost entirely useless, and the circle launcher. The circle launcher is by far and away the best, because it fires massive hoops of energy that encircle and destroy any target they hit. Once you've got the circle launcher, the rest of TLM's side-scrolling stages gain a new level of challenge: the challenge of making sure you never accidentally collect the items that switch you to one of the other guns. This means you spend a lot of time waiting for those items to flicker and disappear so you can make your way forwards - not much fun, but it beats having that sodding laser equipped.


"Dr. Pepper, what's the worst that could happen? Well, the vending machine could be infected by a sinister computer sentience, causing it to kill our customers by launching cans of our delicious soft drink into their faces at high speed? No, I didn't think it sounded very likely either but then I saw a scientist get hit with a can of pop so hard that he goddamn exploded and I was forced to revise my opinion."


Now it's raining X-Wing pilots, who have grown bored with all their free time after defeating the Empire and have taken to harassing scientists by wearing jetpacks and buzzing around them. Why does Dr. Angelo violently disintegrate if lightly brushed against by another human? I dunno, he must not eat his vegetables or something.
One neat thing about these states is that the panel in the middle of your status bar changes depending on what's happening in the stage. Sometimes Jobe's cyber-face appears to grimace at the player, it displays details of power-ups that you've just collected and best of all it shows information on the nearest enemy, as you can see in the screenshot above. It's not practical, usable information, just pictures and random pixels meant to imply text, but if you pay attention to it then it can sometimes let you know what enemies you'll be facing before they get on-screen, and that can go some way towards alleviating the problem of bad guys appearing right in your path that these stages suffer from.


I already implied that these VR sections look a lot like Star Fox, didn't I? Rats.


We're deep into The Lawnmower Man's closing stages now, and there's another Cyber Run to be negotiated. My eyeballs pray for mercy, but there is no mercy to be found amongst the whirling colours and flashing lights, only the frustration of repeatedly taking damage from obstacles you'll swear you avoided. It goes on for bloody ages and if you lose a life you're sent back to the start, and I could avoided so many of my Cyber Run deaths if only Dr. Angelo would fly with his arms pointing forwards like he does in the other stages instead of switching to hang-glider mode. Why are you doing that, Angelo? So you can catch the updrafts that exist here in this dark tunnel of cyberspace? C'mon, man, you look ridiculous.


Just before you fight the final boss, the entire point of the game is reiterated for the player. You know, just in case they forgot. I'm not sure that picture is going to help anyone's comprehension, mind you. It looks like a still from a surreal toothpaste advert where the amorphous avatars of toothpaste and chocolate caramel do battle.


Here is the final boss battle, and it's Space Harrier starring Bad Box Art Mega Man! The VR enhancements have given Jobe the incredible power to make his head really big.


Really, really big. Or maybe he's just moving closer to you, it's hard to tell in cyberspace. Anyway, Dr. Angelo is no longer a hang-glider, which is good, and you can move freely around the screen in a manner that means comparisons to Space Harrier are so inevitable that I've made two in two paragraphs. Naturally you're shooting at Jobe, who for his part is shooting back by launching fire from various parts of his facial anatomy, but Jobe himself is not the real target.


Shoot your failed science experiment enough times and he'll get out of the way for a short while, allowing you to focus your fire on these cyber-portals. Shoot them all enough times to change them from "Access Granted" to "Access Denied" and you win. Somehow. I understand that it stops Jobe from escaping into the wider internet, but he's still around, isn't he? With his telekinesis and his murderous rage? It kinda feels like those things might come back to bite me in the arse if I don't deal with them now.


You're right, incredibly underwhelming ending sequence, I should just forget about what's going on and just accept that The Lawnmower Man is over. Now I have to try and sum up my feelings about it, which is more difficult that usual because there are are four or five distinct games in here, so let's take it one piece at a time. The side-scrolling section are mostly decent, or at least not bad, but they never get anywhere close to breaking out of complete mediocrity. The VR stages are well-built and had a lot of potential but suffer the most from the game's lack of focus. There are also a few too many of them with no gameplay variety, especially when you get towards the end and you're flying through a "Cyber Office". The tunnel shooter sections are just plain bad, with ugly graphics, over-sensitive controls and gameplay that's at once boring and anger-inducing. Then there's the final boss fight, which is pretty good.


Overall, The Lawnmower Man coalesces into a grey putty of averageness. Far better than I thought it was going to be but not good enough for me to recommend that you play it unless you're really into the "potential virtual reality future" aesthetic of the nineties, it's got "licensed Megadrive game" written all over it. That was my time with The Lawnmower Man, then. Number of lawns mowed: zero.

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