This is the one hundred seventeenth entry in the Scratching That Itch series, wherein I randomly select and write about one of the 1741 games and game-related things included in the itch.io Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality. The Bundle raised $8,149,829.66 split evenly between the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and Community Bail Fund, but don’t worry if you missed it. There are plenty of ways you can help support the vital cause of racial justice; try here for a start. This particular post is also an honorary entry in the Keeping Score series about games and their soundtracks. Lastly, as always, you may click on images to view larger versions.
Another random selection from the itch.io Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality has appeared, smelling of freshly cut grass. It’s Greg the Clumsy Ghost, by indiegesindel, and its tagline in the bundle reads:
A small puzzle-like lawn mowing adventure
When there’s too much grass growing on your lawn, who you gonna call?
Greg the Clumsy Ghost was a submission to Paint Jam 2018, a game jam in which creators were encouraged to use only Microsoft Paint for their game art. The version in the bundle is slightly expanded compared to the original submission that was made in a 49-hour window, but Greg the Clumsy Ghost is still a simple and short game, with only 15 brief levels. That didn’t surprise me, but the fact that it has little to do with ghosts, or clumsiness, did. Instead, as the tagline suggests, it’s a game about mowing lawns. Tourists in Greg’s forest keep ignoring his warning signs and dying, you see, so he’s decided to improve visibility by mowing the tall grass. That’s where the player comes in.
Levels are laid out on a square grid, with tiles of long grass, rocks, collectible rings, and even portals. Players must move the lawnmower one tile at a time in the four cardinal directions until all the grass has been mowed. There’s a time limit for each level, so it helps to be efficient when clearing grass, and since levels end as soon as the last grass tile is mowed, clever players will make sure they snag the ring in each level before finishing off the grass. Strangely, movement is mapped to the WASD keys rather than (or in addition to) the arrow keys, which meant I was using my non-dominant hand to play, but for me this just made things a bit more frantic. Given the tile-based movement, I was expecting something essentially turn-based, but the constantly ticking clock means there’s no time to dawdle, and the simple levels gain some nice tension as a result. Greg the Clumsy Ghost isn’t particularly difficult, but I had fun mowing grass for its short running time.
Impressively, developers indiegesindel also created a custom soundtrack for the game, presumably within the allotted 49 hours. The music is included with the game download from itch.io, in .wav format. There’s not much of it: the eight tracks span only four minutes and twenty-three seconds in total, with most between twenty and forty seconds long. The longest track (at one minute thirteen seconds) is the one titled “Trailer” which presumably accompanies a trailer for the game, and reuses several of the other pieces in a medley of sorts. So for those counting actual original music, the total running time is even shorter. But, for a jam game that only takes about fifteen minutes to play through, what’s here is plenty.
The music is somewhere between chiptune and more modern lo-fi synth music, with some reverb that true chiptune music would not have. It’s appropriately jaunty, dominated by the “Gameplay” track which morphs into the track “Intense” partway through levels. Other music is reserved for menus, victory or defeat screens, and the like. A single melodic motif runs through most of it, acting as a theme for Greg’s lawnmowing adventure.
Both the game and the music are brief, but pleasant enough. And don’t worry if you missed it in the bundle, because Greg the Clumsy Ghost (and its soundtrack) is offered for any price you wish to pay, including free.
That’s 117 down, and only 1624 to go!