Lemmings (Amiga) review
"Way, waaaaaaaaaaay back in the depths of time (well the late eighties-early nineties), playing Lemmings nearly took over my life. Took it over to such an extent that I came perilously close to failing first my GCSE's, and then my A'levels. "
Way, waaaaaaaaaaay back in the depths of time (well the late eighties-early nineties), playing Lemmings nearly took over my life. Took it over to such an extent that I came perilously close to failing first my GCSE's, and then my A'levels.
I nearly waved goodbye to my 6 years at University and two degrees thanks to 100 stupid, green haired, suicidal Lemmings.
So some of you may have come across Lemmings in later incarnations. But it was the Amiga that I first had my taste of pure puzzely addictiveness. The game was simple, addictive and had a learning curve polished to perfection. The ''just one more go'' effect was stronger in any game I had played before or since.
So the premise of the game was to save a set number of Lemmings per level. Each level was a landscape, the Lemmings fell out of a door one end and had to be guided safely to a door in the other. So far so easy right?
Your Lemmings are THICK, they just walk in one direction until they hit an obstacle then they turn around. They happily march off cliffs and go squish. Get toasted by fire, flattened by steam-hammers and decapitated by lemming traps. So now you have to get up to 100 of these green haired morons to safety.
This you do by giving lemmings powers, builders can build bridges, blockers can stop lemmings falling or cliffs, diggers can dig tunnels etc etc. Using your special powers you can dig, build and float your lemmings to safety.
The game eases you in gently, the Beginners levels are full of enough powers for your Lemmings to use comfortably, there aren't too many dangers and the time limits are generous. But as you progress through the game it gets progressively tougher. Powers have to be used wisely, time limits leave you screaming at the screen for your Lemmings to hurry up and the landscapes they have to navigate change from gentle forests to scary hellish highrises. One infamous levels saw your Lemming troop having to make their way across a huge stone 666! And all this while a selection of tinny, nursery rhyme tunes blasted out at you and turned your brain to cheese.
So by the time you hit the last 25 Mayhem difficulty levels you were in for some head-scratchingly infuriating puzzling. But the urge to get the little gits through one more level was compulsive. So my first time of addiction was during my GCSE exams, instead of revising I'd sneak off to my friend who owned the Amiga and get playing. One time we were up until three in the morning. No revision done, my head ringing with the little squeaky lemming voices ''Oh NO!'', as I nuked the level and tried again...
Luckily a strict ban (thanks Mum)prevented me being permanently distracted and I made my exams OK. But now I was doing my A'levels. There was a new computer suite in the school..and oh lordy someone handed me a copy of Lemmings!
Lessons were seriously skiived as I became determined to crack the last 5 mayhem levels. Hiding out for a month or to in the sixth form common room I ducked whenever a teacher cam looking. I was getting so close!
I was pretty sure that there would be a good reward for finishing this game. Then one fateful day it happened. After about my fiftieth try, with a combination of practice, skill and dumb luck I completed the 25th Mayhem Level! I had finished!!! I practically danced around the room, wondering what the game would show me as a reward.
I peered at the screen. ''Congratulations, you get..a round of applause''
WHAT??? silly me I was forgetting this was 1991, and games didn't get good endings back then, because no one expected you to finish them.
I felt exhausted, mentally and physically. But also strangely purged. The green haired Lemmings were over for me. I had played the game and won. Now I could move on. I returned to my studies and cleared the backlog of work I had missed.
I never played another videogame again until 1998 when I fell for the charms of Resident Evil 2, soon after graduating with an MA.
I don't know why I left it so long, I guess maybe I got scared at how quickly the gaming had taken over my life. Maybe there were more distractions at university that videogames couldn't match up to. Who knows?
Once my university days were over I had a whole new generation of videogames to get excited about. But sometimes I get pangs for those long nights playing Lemmings. I still can't here certain pieces of music (The Entertainer, How Much is That Doggy in the Window, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star), without remembering those tiny green haired lemmings who lived or died on the click of my mouse.
Community review by falsehead (March 08, 2004)
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