mithical

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mithical

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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!

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mithical

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There's been plenty of games I've put 250+ hours into, but only a couple I reckon I've hit 1000 on. The first was Diablo 2. Would constantly come back to it all the way up to the release of Diablo 3, playing with friends on battle.net. Second would be WoW, which I played for about 3 years. With my gaming habits nowadays, I don't see anything getting up to the quadruple digit mark with me anymore. Even the games I really sink my teeth into, like Overwatch, I've spent no more than 100 hours with. Those WoW days were a blur that I don't think on particularly fondly, but Diablo 2 will always have a special place in my heart. Probably a top 10 of all time for me.

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mithical

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I got all the steam achievements in the original Torchlight. There's stuff in there like 'Fish 1000 times', 'Drink 10000 potions'...

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@savage: Grabbed The Swapper. Thanks!

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I liked it out of the gate because I liked seeing the numbers and bars go up, but I noticed I was also having fun optimizing my battles. Sure I could just slam my guys against their guys and probably come out on top, but I liked setting up blockades so I could have my healer keep healing until she stopped getting XP. I liked trying to give killing blows to weaker characters without getting them killed.

Now that I've got some LV25-ish characters, I'm finding there's actually some meat in this game. I think it's chapter 9-3, with Zephiel? He's got a thing that drastically protects armored characters, with two armor knights that follow him around. Along with some of the stuff I've gone against in the arena, I've found myself in some really sticky situations that I had to really think about. I could see myself having a need to tailor my heroes to specific maps if this difficulty keeps up.

What has bummed me out is that around LV25, 5* heroes start to really stand head and shoulders above the others. I've got five 4* characters up to LV20 just waiting for feathers. So many feathers. I liked bouncing around, leveling up units I thought might have an edge case use, keeping things fresh. But now I've got 5 units I stick with, the others can't really hack it anymore.

Anyway I see myself playing it for a couple more weeks. When I started I set myself the goal of getting my favourite hero and levelling them up. Still waiting, Lyn. If I hit that goal I'll probably be happy to stop.

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mithical

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Oh my gosh my run went so well! A guy at arstechnica wrote an article about it. Even the twitch chat had mostly positive things to say.

My first GDQ was a great experience. I finally met a ton of people face to face with whom I've become friends online, and it was really great to just be with people who share the same passion. I'm not sure what it would be like to go if you're not really part of the community, though. I had a tough time working up the nerve to approach people, but if you're better about that I bet you could have a lot of fun. For me it was a lot of trying to get a peak at the names on people's badges. It was easier to break the ice with people in the practice room, talking about whatever games people are playing. Usually Super Mario World. Every time I went in there at least one person was playing Super Mario World.

It was also super great to do a run with Feasel. We've worked together on a speedrun channel on Twitch and he's a real cool guy. One of the guys doing the pre-show and runner interviews.

As for the drama, I actually slept through the big finale because my body just kind of gave out, but I heard about what happened during Super Metroid. It's normal for the audience to cheer and have fun and usually it's great to see, but I'd say they went too far. I get that in the crowd it's so easy to just do what everyone else is doing to feel like you're a part of things, but still, you gotta check yourself. During a run, it's all about the people on stage. You're there to support them. Often they'll invite you to join in with a laugh or a cheer, but you gotta read the situation. And usually it was not a problem.. I guess everyone just got swept away in all the excitement of the donation total going crazy.

Naturally, what cfb said was super not okay. There were definitely ways to reign the crowd in without the 'get hit by a bus' comment. It sucks that a really hype race so close to the end of the marathon got soured like that.

Bad stuff aside, I'm super proud to have been a part of everything! I even got to host for a little bit on Saturday morning. Did you know there's a skating game with Disney characters where you can do sick grinds as Simba and Tarzan and shit? I had just woke up and had trouble processing what I was seeing.

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I have the honour and privilege of performing at AGDQ this year! I'm Mithical9 on the schedule. I'll be running Gauntlet (2p co-op with 'Feasel') and Kabuki Quantum Fighter for the NES (Jeff recently took a look at it). Two short and sweet runs during the graveyard shift on Wednesday. I'll also be doing some hosting some time after that as well!

I leave for the airport in a few hours.. wish I got more sleep but just couldn't. It's my first time flying alone too, so I'm double anxious. Wish me luck!

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....don't steal the dog.

Do something, sure. Talk to the neighbour, notify authorities, whatever. But don't steal the dog.

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This game isn't very good but the soundtrack... is special. Each invidual track is pretty good (I guess?), but they don't mesh together very well at all. Anyway the sax dominates the first theme for the first level. Not flashy, but solid.

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mithical

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