By Jason Railton
Genre: Gardening: Strategy
Ok, I’m pleased to announce the third lawnmowing based entry to the CGC, and what an entry it is! (NB- ALS is a reference to Advanced Lawnmower Simulator for those not in the know).
The game takes a disconcerting 2 mins 30 secs to load (probably because it has not one, not two, but THREE banks of UDGs!), and leads into this rather professional looking screen with some rather erm…slightly less professional beeper noise (I would call it music but I kept flinching involuntarily on all the high notes). Then you press a key and have to wait 10 seconds for some data to configure, which doesn’t sound a lot but certainly feels it.
Before playing the game, in the finest tradition of Duncan MacDonald’s Advanced LawnMower Simulator, you get to choose your mower: now this is where the fun begins, because if it wasn’t exciting enough to mow a lawn strategically you get to choose the hardware to do it. I must confess, I’ve played the game at least 600 times now, and I’ve only noticed the most subtle differences between mowers – having said that I favour the QUALCURSED Badger s40.
As the intro screen suggests the aim of the game is to mow the lawn, but ALS is clever like. It is a puzzle based game in which you can circle the lawn around the beautiful white path, made of the finest Portland stone by the looks of it. Once you commit to mowing a line you can’t change direction unless something blocks your way, in which case you can choose a new direction or press restart if blocked. The main crap factor here comes from the painfully slow trundle of the mower.
Once you’ve mown a bit of lawn you can’t walk on it again, and the reason for this is not clear – it could have been a radioactive mower (using liberal use of the FLASH attribute), alien infected grass or a dicky knee, however no explanation is offered and we’ll just have to suspend our disbelief. It does at least leave us with a rather nifty strategy game. One that I find pretty challenging, though after staring at it a while the solution usually becomes obvious. I’ve yet to complete this game ‘paniagua’but with cheats I notice it loops after 10 levels, which is about as much lawnmowing as a person can take anyway (and at least you have the option to go on should you want to). Every time you progress a level your abode (or the one you’re mowing anyway) becomes more majestic, from castle to mediterranean villa to spikey looking magenta death castle - it clear that lawnmower man is going somewhere!
ALS Tactics is a big mound of silage with some pound coins hidden in it.
Tipshack: don’t belive the WALKMO Turbo X+Alpha is as fast as it sounds and crank the speed up on your emulator (real hardware is available) to make this a really rather playable game.
HACK SACK: Level prance: Break into the game each level and type LET t=0:CONTINUE