Developer: Dohi Sweden AB
Price: $0.99 Download on the App Store
Lawn Mower Kids is a game where you control kids as they mow lawns around their neighborhood. Trust me: it's a lot more fun than it sounds.
Law Mower Kids is actually a twist on the classic "real-time strategy" gaming genre. Rather than ordering around tanks or legions of soldiers like in Command & Conquer: Red Alert for the iPhone, Lawn Mower Kids is mellow and non-violent.
The player controls three kids, each with a different type of lawn mower. The kids have to mow sprawling suburban lawns before the clock runs out, all while avoiding stereotypically-suburban obstacles like dogs and grumpy old men.
The controls are clever, and make great use of the iPhone's touchscreen: to order the kids around the lawn, simply tap the kid you want to select, then drag a path with your finger. The path will be represented on-screen as a translucent line. To change plans, just tap the kid and draw a new path. The game doesn't demand a lot of hand-eye coordination, but it will put your multitasking abilities to the test.
Each kid has a different ability, whether it is speed, the ability to dodge footballs or angry dogs, or the ability to mow down a flower bed without the homeowner becoming angry. The key to a good score lies in knowing where each kid is at any given time, and sending the right kid to mow the part of the lawn best suited to him or her. If a crazed party guest shows up out of nowhere, it's good to have a backup plan.
While it is certainly fun to master the particular skills of the three kids featured in this game, after a dozen stages or so I found myself wanting a little variety. Future versions of the game would definitely benefit from the addition of more kids, or even from a few new lawn mower upgrades. Apart from that, Lawn Mower Kids has a lot going for it.
The premise of the game is pretty silly, and the developer knows it. Lawn Mower Kids has a great sense of humor. The music is like peppy 1950's elevator Muzak, and the lawns are a hilarious, manic version of "Leave it to Beaver." The attention to detail is remarkable, and the tiny dog houses, white picket fences, and mailboxes look sharp on a retina display. Half of the fun is the atmosphere, spread out over 21 different lawns.
The game is action-packed, but still totally non-violent, so it is suitable for players of all ages. However, multitasking games are too tricky for very small children, and some of the 1950's nostalgia will likely be lost on them anyway. For everyone else, Lawn Mower Kids is a colorful, inventive, and addictive game for the iPhone. It certainly beats the actual act of mowing a lawn.