“Awe inspiringly realistic with a near infinite number of randomly generated rural and suburban lawn scenarios!”
Advanced Lawnmower Simulator then.
It is the Something Simulator joke 30 years before the internet discovered it and made it its own. Of course it’s not alone, there’s plenty of games before it and after (hello Sim Brick) to punch at the absurdity of the simulation genre but like with Goat Simulator all these years later, it’s all in the timing.
ALS (as we’ll call it from now on just to save my poor fingers) was foisted onto the world at a time when budget game companies had spent a few years really, really pushing it with Something Simulator releases. From the more well known titles like Grand Prix Simulator or BMX Simulator to the rather silly Ninja Scooter Simulator (Which were it released today would no doubt be a game based around a brand of scooters made by a company called Ninja or something like that but back then, it was about being a ninja on a scooter. Look, the eighties were all about ninjas and I still don’t know what was with that).
I still maintain that it’s a good joke. Sort of. It’s a good joke in the Ted Chippington sense of a good joke. It’s the videogame equivalent of “I was walking down this road…”, it wears the skin of a joke but the punchline is that there is no punchline. ALS is the Cheltenham of videogames.
Other games dealt with mowing lawns, Minter’s Hovver Bovver perhaps more famously so, but every other game had a fascination with being an actual, real, proper videogame. ALS had no such ambitions nor need to be that. One key, one lawn. That’ll do.
Originally released as an April Fools jape on a Your Sinclair covertape (and a receiver of the coveted YS Megagame Award too) you’d expect it to have fallen between the cracks like the curious piece of videogame ephemera it is but that never happened. Instead, there’s a ridiculously large amount of remakes and tributes out there.
ALS, for reasons mainly unfathomable, endured.
I could speculate that maybe it’s the right silly game at the right silly time, it’s because it’s simple to make and easily edited or something, anything, like that. Personally, I prefer to hope that it’s endured for no other reason than deep down, everyone has a fondness for a good crap joke.