Professional, Originally Released On Cassette Only
Game Type : Arcade, Overhead Lawn-Cutting Simulation
Author : J. Morle
Standalone Release(s) : 1985: MANIAC MOWER, Kansas, £3.95
Compilation Release(s) : None
Stated compatibility : Electron
Actual compatibility : Electron
Supplier : KANSAS CITY SYSTEMS, Unit 3, Sutton Springs Wood,
CHESTERFIELD. Tel: 0246 850357.
Disc compatibility : CDFS E00, DFS E00
After being out of work since you left school, you seized at a job for a park grasscutter. 'Easy money' you thought! You thought wrong. There is a mad mower on the loose in the park and it is out to get you!!
This mower will follow you and try to crash into you, or make you ram some mown grass. If you manage to capture and kill this mower you will be rewarded with a £30 bonus.
Also, while cutting the grass and dodging the mower, you see things in the grass. These things are fireworks, string, cricket balls and rubber bands. All of these things are fatal to your poor mower.
You are not allowed to crash into any of the park fences, but can wraparound in the vertical axis via the park path.
However, there are martial arts experts walking on the path, and if you bump into one he will tear you limb from limb!
Z - Left, X - Right, : - Up, / - Down
Instructions' Source : MANIAC MOWER (Kansas) On Screen Instructions
Review (Electron User)
If you fancy a peaceful job like mowing a lawn, then this is the program designed to put you off. Mind you, the rewards are quite high, with more than a thousand pounds - in points - to be earned by the keen and careful operator.
Your garden is, presumably, right next to Taunton Cricket Ground with Ian Botham in full flow. Quite an amazing number of cricket balls join the elastic bands and other debris lying about. Any contact with these harmless looking bit and pieces means a new mower is required and you've only got three. A further problem is that your mower gets ruined if you venture on to grass that's already cut!
The biggest danger to life and limb is the rival mower. This little beast is hell-bent on colliding with you, or on making you bump into the garden walls or one of the nasty objects. You can do the same and try to trap the maniac mower for additional points.
To complete the misery a karate expert is practising in the garden and he is very keep to give you the chop.
This game ought to be fun to play but it is too slow for real arcade action. There is a lot of strategy involved in keeping your mower going and trapping your rival, and the game is enjoyable at that level. But one bad feature is that the chosen colours are awful, producing moving diagonal lines on black and white or colour TVs. Needless to say, all is well if you have a monitor.
As seems to be usual with Kansas games, the instructions are excellent and a model for other software houses to copy. A feature of the program which I like is that it is written in Basic and listable, which means you can modify it to your heart's content. I'd also recommend the game to BBC Micro owners where the speed of action is good.
Arcade addicts will unfortunately find this game a disappointment, but if you prefer a little slow action strategy problem and enjoy tinkering with programs then why not consider MANIAC MOWER?
Rog Frost, ELECTRON USER 3. 6
If you fancy a peaceful job like mowing a lawn, then this is the program designed to
It's not often one encounters a professionally released Electron game which is written completely in BASIC, is mind-meltingly boring and, it seems, so improperly programmed. All three are the case with Kansas' MANIAC MOWER, another once-upon-a-time mail order only tape-based game from the software house where quality is very often a mixed bag.
This time the words MICRO COMPUTER SOFTWARE are in light green on the uninspiring white inlay and the game loads in two parts; part one first introducing the dubious premise that you are pushing a lawnmower and trying to outwit a killer lawnmowing neighbour and then drawing a primitive loading screen with BASIC commands.
The few blocks that then comprise "the main game" then load in and, for some odd reason locate themselves at Page &D00, causing all kinds of problems with the Operating System when the game is exited later. On screen, an 8x8 User-Defined "mower" CHR$ moves from left to right, the game's title and its author being written in a 'trail' behind it. Up to now, and until you choose a skill level, the game remains in monochrome. And don't expect any touches like a joystick option or redefinable keys! Kansas haven't even added a message reserving copyright!
By this stage my hopes were not high and, despite the sudden rush of colour to the screen, they sank even lower as the Mode 1 playing area appeared. The screen is divided vertically into two dark green areas - well, for dark green read dithered black on a light green background - and mid-area-a is a red blob, mid-area-b a blue blob. Across the bottom of the screen in the same font we're used to for text files is the "score line" showing your wages, the highest wages earned that day and the number of mowers remaining. Unfortunately, despite black being available, J. Morle has chosen instead to use red for this line. Red on light green on a TV screen just does not work, which means it is nigh on impossible to monitor how well (or badly!) you're doing. What's even worse though is that between the two areas runs a red path on which a green nasty moves constantly from top to bottom. He is just as difficult to see, meaning this game is only for people who don't mind permanently squinting or who own a good monitor.
A quick jangle of notes later and both User-Defined blobs are on the move. In fact, on a collision course, which you quickly appreciate, is just how the evil mower likes it. So a quick manipulation of keys ZX*? is in order. The response of your mower, the 8x8 red blob on the left of the screen, is, to say the least, sluggish. Why it is not possible to stop is never explained by the rules [Neither is there any explanation as to why there is no graphic of a man pushing it as per the introductory text! - Ed] and the advice to "surround" the killer mower also takes a good few turns to understand.
Ahem. That is, if the game will let you proceed for any amount of turns. When playing the original cassette with the Plus 1 or any disc system attached, after just a few blips as both mowers move one 8x8 space up/down/left/right, the game comes to an abrupt halt with the message "Arguments at line 1970". On disecting the program, I found this bug was caused not by a faulty line but by the unnecessarily low relocation address for the main file. A quick alteration so the game ran at &E00, not &D00, and all was well with any peripherals attached.
By this point, I returned to playing MANIAC MOWER with a really heavy heart; the repetitive blip-blip-blipping that is the game's soundtrack doing nothing to help its cause (and obviously there's no sound on/off option). Now, carefully hammering the necessary key whenever a direction change was needed, I very quickly had the evil mower crashing either into the obstacles littering the garden or the wall surrounding it, even on the most difficult skill level! Also, it seems that both you and the other mower will die if you happen to run over an 8x8 piece of grass you have already mown! Ah, so that's what the instructions meant by "surrounding" the enemy grasscutting machine! Still, a pretty damned stupid rule, isn't it?
Unfortunately there isn't really much more to say. As you will probably have gathered, all the 'graphics' in the game are as bad as one another. Your wages clock up as you mow more and more of the lawn, and you gain a bonus if (or should that be when) you lure the enemy to his doom. It's extremely boring stuff, the 'action' taking place on a non-turboed Elk at only about two moves per second. It regains some dignity by having a high score table, but not much.
Even accepting the relocation 'bug', the slow response to keypresses, the general crapiness of the scenario and the appalling palette, what really does for this game in the end is that it is a lot worse than the average magazine type-in. Kansas' titles were never expensive but neither did they have a sliding scale from good (e.g. DRACULA ISLAND, a 100% machine code adventure) down to this, which must sit at the very, very bottom.
No. Going by the name in the mail order advertisement alone, you could never be sure just what the quality of the game would be and whether your £3.95 would prove value for money. MANIAC MOWER, although indisputedly one of the rarest Electron titles out there, demonstrates this flaw in Kansas' marketing strategy perfectly. It is extremely poor, undeserving of a release by any software company, a perfect rip off at four quid and likely to dissuade any purchaser of it from buying from Kansas again. And so we understand why their titles are so difficult to find.
Dave Edwards, EUG #63