Lawn Mower is a homebrew game for the NES and it's no joke in my Top 10 for the console. It is incredibly simple: Mow all the grass, don't run out of fuel. The catch: The mower never stops, and your fuel constantly drains. You lose additional fuel by mowing flowers and rocks. You must refill it by picking up randomly spawning fuel cans. The d-pad turns and you can hold A or B to go faster. Level 1 is trivial. The pleasant graphics and music combined with the simplicity of the gameplay lull you into a false sense of security, as the game quietly ratchets up the difficulty. The first time you fuel out, it is almost a fun novelty. Surely just a minor slip, won't happen again. The next few times you can probably shrug off. But as you reach the harder levels, each fuel out starts to become agonizing.
Part of the hidden difficulty of the game is that the fuel only spawns in mowed areas of the lawn. Once you've mowed 90% of the lawn, that fuel can spawn anywhere, and you can't afford to go slowly to get to it if it's on the other side of the map. That means holding the button to go faster. Here's the thing though: At the fastest speed the mower is a wild beast. It has a mind of its own and cannot be tamed. You have something like 4 frames to make a turn, 1/15th of a second. If you're off by a single tile it often means careening into the fuel-hungry flowers and rocks. Even if by chance you avoided immediate destruction, your brain hasn't realized your mistake until you travel another tile at least. Words cannot convey how much mental focus it takes to control the mower as you quickly (but carefully!... but quickly!) pick your way across the map from fuel to grass and fuel again. The whole time knowing one slip has you start back at the start of the lawn. There's only 10 levels but I've seen players take well over an hour to finish it.
The delicious combination of the calming presentation of the game and its devilish difficulty made it appealing to the blind speedrunning community - speedrunners who race to quickly play games they've never seen before. It was raced in a Top 8 match of the 3rd 'Mystery Tournament', our big annual competition, and has held a place in our hearts ever since. The community has since made homebrew sequels for the SNES, Gameboy, and more. The original Lawn Mower was one of 10 games that made up Season 7 of the Ultime Decathlon, a mostly French-based speedrun competition. Every November we put on a 'Lawnmowvember' livestream showcasing the game. If you know how to run an NES emulator and you've got a moment, I whole-heartedly recommend you mess around with this game for a few minutes - see if it hooks you in the way it did so many of us!