Released by THQ in 1993, The Lawnmower Man is the game adaptation of a movie which was an adaptation of short story. A research agency known as "The Shop" has created a virtual reality monster from a simpleton named Jobe, and now it's up to you to stop him before he's able to make the jump from The Shop's network to the global computer network (ah, the 90s). Featuring multiple different types of gameplay and simultaneous co-op play, The Lawnmower Man stands as a unique title in the 16-bit library.
Runs on the SNES version:
Get Flash to see this player.
Thanks as always to the SDA admin crew for everything they do! It is very much appreciated. ^_^ Many thanks to Pootrain for helping me find a lot of the sequence breaks in this game and for the encouragement throughout the process. Thanks (I think) to UltraJMan for giving this to me for my second exchange of the "bad game exchange" here....though I probably would've run it even if he didn't make me so it's not his fault entirely. Most importantly, thanks to my friends here at SDA for all the support while I was running this game. No other game I run has ever made me as mad as I was during these attempts, so thanks to all of you for taking my venting. Haha.
The Lawnmower Man is hands down the worst game I have ever had to speed run. It isn't as difficult as Lagoon, Actraiser 2, Battletoads, etc, but it much more random and the tricks are far more finicky than in any of those other games. It is really terrible. As a game to casually play, it is actually not bad at all. The game play is really diverse and unique and isn't too long to try to fight through. It is such a terror to run, though. The worst part is that the difficulty isn't even apparent when watching. All of the major skips look completely ordinary. If I mess up on a skip, it looks normal because the game proceeds as expected. Unless you are familiar with the game you won't notice any of the tricks, so it's not a very rewarding run. I'll outline a bunch of the general tricks, I guess:
-The charged shot is the basis for basicaly every glitch in the game. While charging your gun, your velocity is greatly changed. If running to the right, you will slow down, and when running to the left you will speed up. This is true if you are running, jumping, falling, etc. Any kind of movement is affected by the charge shot. Whenever I am moving to the left, I always try to charge my gun.
-If you jump at the right time while charging, your jump height will be extended. There is a rather large window for a general extended jump, but a perfect charged shot jump (CSJ) only happens if you jump exactly 34 frames after you begin charging your gun. This is only like 1-2 pixels higher than a "poor" CSJ, but that height is absolutely required for a lot of the tricks.
-There is some delay when you land from a jump (unless there are many sprites on screen...then the game forgets that it's supposed to have a delay), so you want to minimize jumps as much as possible. This, in combination with the slowdown from using the charged shot, makes managing enemies very difficult.
-The game forces you to autojump once you near the edge of a ledge. This makes jumping off the last few pixels of the ledge extremely difficult because you will often be overruled by the autojump. See: the jump on the scaffolding at the end of the first screen.
-If you jump off a ledge that is too high (or if you jump too high, in some rare cases), the game will respawn you back where you were. It looks suspicously like dying, but you don't actually die. Think of it as fall damage without the damage. I use this trick once in the office area to take advantage of the respawn invincibility.
-The most important trick in this game is overloading the sprite limit. If you shoot a charged shot at the right time, you can cause some enemies or obstacles to simply not appear at all. For instance, in the very first level, I despawn 3-4 enemies. It is even possible to cause bosses to not appear under very very specific conditions. In general, you want as many sprites on screen as possible. Moving enemies, charge shots, CHARGING the charged shot, sparks from collisions b/w charged shots and enemies, and CDs generated from the loss of the virtual suit are all good ways to overload the sprite limit. In most cases, it is necessary to use all of these at once to cause bosses to not appear. More on this later.
-This isn't really a trick, but I should mention what some of the powerups do. The yellow "player-shaped" powerup is invincibility. It obviously makes you invincible for a short period of time. The purple/blue circles increase the power of the weapon if you have the normal weapon or the homing shot. CDs increase score, and if you collect enough of them you get the "virtual suit". The virtual suit lets you survive one hit instead of dying immediately. When you are hit, the suit explodes back into CDs. In some situations you can immediately recollect those CDs and get the virtual suit again, but that doesn't happen in this run. The suit is mostly just used for the boss skips.
Ok. I think that is everything. I suppose I'll actually talk about this run now.
Beginning until Cyber Run:
It takes two tries to get the jump on the scaffolding in the first screen. I only lose a little over a second from that mistake, and I generally miss it anyways so I'm ok with that. In the second platforming section, I get the Pootrain skip on the first try, which is awesome. That trick is pretty tough: the positioning of the jump is rather specific (only a few pixels), and you need to do a perfect CSJ to reach that upper building. While you try to space it, you are slowing down from charging the gun, and there is some minor lag that is trying to ruin the timing of the perfect CSJ. It is stupidly precise for such an ordinary-looking trick. In the third platforming section, I need to suicide on the fleamen. By doing the Pootrain skip, the motorcycle miniboss at the end of this stage doesn't appear on time and I am forced to wait somewhere between 5 and 20 seconds. Pootrain mentioned that this doesn't happen to him, so there must be something with the way that I'm doing the skip that is causing this. Regardless, if I suicide on the fleamen, the motorcycle boss spawns immediately for me. It doesn't cost much time to suicide so I chose that option. Also, it is possible to CSJ directly to the platform with the virtual reality portal at the end of the stage, but I missed it in the last several attempts and it costs more time if you miss it so I didn't bother. It is only slightly faster because it cuts out the landing lag from two jumps.
The shooting gallery section (Cyber War Zone 1) at the end of that stage is the best luck possible. I got my 10 required kills in the first 10 enemies. That is pretty rare. In fact, I think that has only happened one or two other times. Really excellent luck. "Stage 4" is pretty ordinary; not much to say here. The gas pump fight was good. A 3-round fight is very acceptible. That fight is so ridiculously annoying. He always spawns in the same spot, but after the first round he normally appears in one of two places: either where you see him in this run, or directly on top of me. In the latter case, you can sometimes knock him away if you fire at the right time before he destroys you, but then he just circles around and tries again. It sucks. Anyways, I am more than happy with this fight. Entering the Cyber Run, I am ~15 seconds ahead of pace.
The Cyber Run is the hardest thing in the game to do perfectly. Once you go through a turbo ring, you are at the mercy of the game. You can ~double your speed if you hold down on the dpad too, which makes dodging things completely impossible. The movement in all of these "virtual reality flight simulator thingies" is inertia-based, which means that if you need to change direction quickly, you can't. So basically, once you are in full turbo there isn't much you can do to save yourself. The benefit of full-turbo is that the yellow/red/green walls that spawn cannot hit you because you are already past them by the time they have hitboxes. The obstacles in this level are absolutely brilliant. Some obstables (the red/yellow/green walls, the columns between the green walls, the triangle enemies) are spawned based on your position at the time you reach their spawn point, some obstacles (the blinking white triangles that come out of the ground) will lead you so you need to weave to dodge them, and other obstacles (the other columns and the spike balls) are randomly placed on screen. All of this combined creates one of the most fun levels to play normally, and the worst thing ever to speed run. I lose 12 seconds here because of crashing into stuff at inopportune times, but I have only ever gotten a perfect run of the Cyber Run twice. I was still ahead of pace afterwards, so I didn't abort this run. This is by far the ugliest part of the run.
The Factory through the Cyber Tube:
I get the virtual suit and then immediately use it to skip the miniboss there. Yes, the hit and all the delays were completely intentional and required in order to skip that boss. Shortly afterwards, I miss the elevator skip by like 1-2 pixels. I was so mad about that. It cost another 2-3 seconds. That kind of mistake should not happen. Pootrain found a neat sequence break that I missed by using a CSJ to just jump over the elevator to the left and skip the "cyber dusk" virtual reality section. Thanks Pootrain! I make a very minor detour to collect CDs from a slightly-out-of-the-way box here to make sure that I have the virtual suit in time for the next skip (the last attempt that made it here didn't get the virtual suit in time because apparently the required number of CDs is random). The rest of this screen proceeds normally, with a few minor elevator sequence breaks involving CSJs.
The rooftop is the most important screen in the game. I use two rather important skips here. There is normally a helicopter miniboss here, but I skip him as a result of my choreography at the beginning of the screen. By skipping the helicopter, the flamethrower guy is still alive and lets me do the other skip. If you die on the same frame that you enter the door in this screen (only works in this screen), then you will respawn in the wrong spot of the next screen. It just so happens that you skip the entire next "level" with this trick and save like 2.5 minutes. Really nice!
Cyber War Zone 2 goes very well! I get my 10 kills in the first 13 or so enemies. The first round was perfect and the second round was not quite perfect but still wayyyy faster than average. This luck was unbelievable! The following factory section was rather good, too. I was fortunate enough to get a gun power upgrade from an enemy which helps a lot against the bees. That fight was rather scary because of some of the bullet placement but I fortunately didn't die (a death there means I can't do the next skip). The second half of the level goes perfectly and I nail the miniboss skip!
My fight with Jobe was actually pretty good. I got hit by the orange laser more times than I would have liked (round 6 in particular), but it was still good. In the 6 hours of attempts I did on this day, only 2 of them made it this far. The other attempt was aborted during the "Spy Hunter"-esque stage. My goals in this level are to fully upgrade my gun (5 bullets, reverse bullets, and homing shots) and get the virtual suit. The virtual suit is a strange beast in this level because you can never fully tell when you have it and when you don't. I do notice sometimes that I start the level being very fragile (just touching cars causes flames to appear behind my car....not good) and then after I collect a bunch of CDs I tend to be bulkier. Anyways, I collected everything I needed to in this level and managed to get a lot of boosts (boosts randomly spawn...2 boosts is about average), so that is awesome!
Cyber Tube is extremely ordinary. There is no real way to speed it up or lose time (except for shooting the second round of weird blue/white guys).
The Office to the end:
I have only ever had 2 attempts make it here. This part is really really hard, and it's extremely easy to lose a huge amount of time. There are only 3 levels here but they are ridiculous. The first level goes almost exactly as planned, except for the slip-up on the elevator. See, when you are close enough to the edge of an elevator, you cannot use it. For some reason, it let me use it this time when I was clearly too far to the right. You might notice that I am partially clipped into the wall when the elevator moves down. Whatever. I had to stand in place and kill that flamethrower guy before I advanced because I absolutely need to lose the virtual suit in the right spot for the rest of the game to go as planned. After I take care of my mistake, things go smoothly. Just a quick note, this virtual reality section is hard as hell.
The second level here is the biggest concern. The fight with Doomplayer at the beginning can be done in 2-rounds if you do it right and if the game wants it to happen. I still think that my execution/spacing was perfect here for a 2-round fight, but I guess it wasn't. No big deal. I got really really fortunate before the bee fight by getting an invincibility drop from the fleaman. When I get that, it is safe to collect all the CDs (which guarantees the virtual suit if the previous level goes right), and it lets me go behind the bees and fight them there. That saves a lot of time. I hesitate a bit after I kill the bees because I'm super nervous...everything I do from that point onwards is to set up the next boss skip. I do everything 100% correct, but that trick is also luck dependent and I used up all my luck in this run already. This is the most costly mistake in the run, costing me around 26 seconds. On the bright side, it doesn't look like a mistake because that is how the game progresses normally.
I don't have much to say about the rest of the game. It's all pretty straightforward. I had another regrettable 3-round Doomplayer fight, which is a shame. I had truly exceptional luck on Cyber War Zone 3 again, even though I missed a shot on the third round. I never got luck like that on that shooting gallery. I also had just about the best Doomplayer final fight that you can hope for. I had really good weapon/powerup luck, and even was fortunate enough to have Doomplayer not attack for a few patterns of round 4. Really nice end to the run. I was very concerned I'd be too nervous to finish, but I managed alright.
Although I am upset about the Cyber Run and the miniboss skip in the Office, this is still a very good run. Fortunately, my luck was so amazing everywhere else that this run is still really good. The chance of getting a perfect Cyber Run, all 6 successful skips, and luck as good as this run is...well...not really possible. As I mentioned before, I got this run after a 6-hour binge session one day and only 2 runs even made it to Jobe. In all of my weeks of attempts, I only had 2 perfect Cyber Runs (one wasn't during an attempt) and maybe only 2-3 successful miniboss skips in the Office (none of these were during successful attempts). There's just no way all of that will come together in one run. In theory, it might be possible to get sub-24, but there is absolutely no chance I am going to try for it. This run drove me to the brink of insanity and I have no desire to try to beat this.
Thanks for watching! I hope at least one person enjoys this run. Haha. I will leave you all with some words of wisdom from my brother: "Well I can't stand to watch this for 27 minutes."
Return to the Game List, the FAQ, or the Home Page.