Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: Lemmings

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Electronic Theatre ImageIs there anybody that hasn’t played Lemmings at some point? Herding the little blue critters through Stages of ever increasing difficultly has been done on countless platforms over the years, from it’s beginnings on the Amiga all the way to its downloadable status on the PlayStation3’s PlayStation Store and countless freeware clones. For those not in the know, Lemmings was created by DMA Design, the company that went on to become Rockstar North, creator of yet another incredibly popular series, Grand Theft Auto, back in 1991.

Lemmings for PlayStation2, like every other iteration before it, involves guiding upElectronic Theatre Image to 100 lemmings from the Entrance of the Level to the Exit. Along the way the ignorant rodents will be completely obvious to danger and will amble forward, even into certain danger or off cliffs, until they hit a solid object, at which point they will turn around and march-on in the other direction. While the player cannot directly move the lemmings in most Levels, they can issue commands to some. These commands are separated into jobs which are usually limited in variety and availability. For instance, making a lemming a Blocker will cause it to act like a wall, ensuing following lemmings will turn around, making a lemming a Basher causes them to bash through horizontal walls, although not all materials, such as metal, can be bashed. Like most other ports, the ability to speed-up the release rate of lemmings, Pause and issue commands and nuke them all are also available.

This command-based structure makes Lemmings a kind of Puzzle game, where the efficiency of the player is challenged by saved lemming quotas. The game remains as amusing as the original, with the PlayStation2 versionElectronic Theatre Image basically a port of the recently released PSP version, complete with the new Levels and a Level Editor. The PlayStation2 version does have one unique feature however, the integration of the Eye-Toy.

Although Lemmings Eye-Toy functionality comes with all the problems usually associated with SONY’s camera peripheral, i.e. horrendous functionality in everything but perfect lighting and a need for space, the ideas are quite fun. In the twenty specific Levels, you must use your body to stop, carry and push the little fellas, as all commands are disabled. Although it’s by no means perfect, as the slightest change in lighting will cause lemmings to fall through you, catapulted into the air or inexplicably destroyed, it is about as close as the series has come to innovation since Lemmings 2: The Tribes.

Visually Lemmings is still the same game it was sixteen years ago, albeit with a new Zoom feature which allows slightly more precise interaction. The sound effects and music are as bouncy as ever, but not only have you heard them before, you’ll have likely heard them in this game!

Despite that fact that Lemmings is sixteen years old, it’s still as charming as ever. The original concept holds-up well for younger players, but if you’ve ever been anything of a gamer in the past, you will find it tired. The new Eye-Toy functionality is amusing for a while, but unlikely to make you want to part with thirty-something pounds. Perhaps it’s time the lemmings were allowed to die.

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