You have to wonder, don’t you? I mean, all lemmings do is wander around the countryside, eating grass, chatting to the neighbours and excreting every so often. Then they decide that Iife’s not worth it and promptly chuck themselves off the nearest deadly precipice. Not exactly a cast-iron philosophy on which to build a community is it?
I mean, imagine if early cavemen had gone and topped themselves every time a dinosaur trampled on their broccoli, or taken a nibble of a deadly mushroom because Zog next door was playing his bonging rock all night when you had an awful headache from too much woad. We wouldn’t be here today if early man had been that depressed. All of which begs one teensy-weensy question: how the flip did lemmings make it this far down the evolutionary scale?
Psygnosis would have us believe that they made it this far so that they could be immortalised in a revolutionary platform game. In fact they’re so sure of this hitherto unknown fact that they’ve given you, gentle Spec-chum, the role of chief protector of lemmings, a kind of zoo-keeper on a Hippocratic oath. You see, the whole point of lemmings is to guide wodges of the hairy cuddlesome chaps to the end of a level, by directing them in all sorts of groovy but ever so important functions.
Take a trip down lemming lane.
If you don’t tell the lemmings what to do, then they’ll easily find some way of killing themselves This is because, as we’ve already ascertained, they think that it’s both smart and clever. Right, so the lemmings drop down from the sky and you’ve got to keep them safe.
At the bottom of the screen are 12 icons Eight of these enable you to direct a single lemming in a task For example, if there’s a huge wall in the way you can click on one of them and he’ll burrow through it. Similarly, if there’s a gap that needs crossing, you can kit one out with a Masters degree in bridge building and set him off to the other side. YTS was never like this.
The other four icons at the bottom of the screen control the speed of the arrival of the lemmings from a hole in the ceiling, a pause key and an Armageddon button which annihilates all the lemmings if you’ve really mucked up a level.
Sounds a bit too easy to me!
Of course, nothing’s ever as easy as all that. No siree, in this game, the 60 levels vary from piddlingly easy to aggravatingly hard. All sorts of obstacles get plonked in your way, such as drops that are just too high to leap off, spinning scythes and volcanic pits. Fail to work out what you’re meant to do with your lemmings and the little chaps will just stroll off to their deaths. On some levels you’ll have to account for each and every lemming dropped from the sky; while on others, you’ll only have to get a couple home safely.
Graphically, each level is monochrome. This isn’t a problem, because you can still see the lemmings perfectly adequately, complete with flowing locks of hair and pained expressions when you decide to blow them up. The bottom icon display is in a different colour, which means you can quickly pick out a task for each rodent. The cursor which itemises our heroes is about the same size as a lemming and can be locked onto a particular lem by hitting N.
This makes life a whole lot easier.
Nope, there’s little doubt about it. Lemmings is a corker and no mistake. The levels have been perfectly weighted to help progression through the game and believe me, you will want to progress. Once these pixelated fur-balls are let loose on your Speccy, they won’t let go until you’ve saved them from each and every one of the 60 levels. So be prepared, there’s no sleep until lemming bedtime.