I played the demo of this game a good few months ago now and, I must admit, we didn't get along too well together. My patience was sorely tested. Hence I was sceptical, to say the least, about reviewing the full version. I put the game in one night at 8 and no one was more surprised than me when I next looked up at the clock and it was past midnight. Where had those hours disappeared -- I'd been lost utterly in a world of camera angles and swirling transporters and suicidal rodents.
Just how does one describe 'Lemmings' to anyone who hasn't met up with these cute and colourful specimens that have driven many of us to distraction. They're just Lemmings, and they do what Lemmings do -- make straight for that Lemming paradise in the sky. In single file they soldier on relentlessly, hurling themselves over every conceivable gaping abyss. And it is your job to stop them by allocating various skills such as floating (very useful for the occasional abyss), building or digging, so that they can avoid or negotiate obstacles and arrive safely home.
With this latest episode which comes from the Clockwork Games team, you are certainly in for a surprise. It has generally the same skills as its predecessors (adding the essential 'turn' skill which is peculiar to this game), with much the same dangerous terrain to negotiate, the difference is the 3D environment which allows the Lemmings to head off in every possible direction. If you have played Lemmings before it's a bit of a jolt to the system. Not being able to just sit back and survey the total picture and work out a strategy takes some getting used to. It's a tad more difficult than that. With this one you must carefully map out the different paths by changing your viewing perspective in order to gauge what is in store for your lemmings and keep them on the straight and narrow.
It's so crazy it's a puzzle in itself just locating your lemmings' 'home' let alone leading them safely there. Forward planning is essential and to give you a helping hand (I think!) there are 4 cameras or camera angles. You need to set up your cameras carefully and toggle between them in order to keep an eye on things. Also there is a very useful 'replay' mode which automatically cuts in each time you repeat a level after making that fatal mistake. Just watch the re-run performance up until the time you want to change your strategy then at the click of your mouse button you can take over the action. To take an even closer look you can select 'virtual lemming' mode and see what's happening from a 'lemming's eye view', so to speak.
Apart from manipulating the cameras the general mechanics of the game will be familiar to anyone who has played a Lemmings title before. The various 'skills' can be selected from a bar across the bottom of the screen, and at the right hand side there is another bar which provides information such as number of lemmings (in and out), the rate of release, the time limit, etc. It is here where you alter camera angles and pause your game, which you will be doing regularly, I promise you. There are keyboard and/or mouse controls for all the functions so that these bars can switched off to give you the full screen playing area. It's worth at least having a look in full screen because the graphics are especially well done and there is lots of detail.
Sorry folks, but for this game the bad news is that it is just as addictive as its honoured ancestors. However, if you have played Lemmings before you may need to give yourself some time to get used to it. Be generous, it's worth it. Still, it may also be that this one is not for everyone. It probably best suits the most dedicated Lemmings fans. You really do need a good store of tenacity. On the other hand, if you have never played Lemmings before and are considering trying it, I would recommend a different approach. Indeed, I strongly suggest that you hunt around and find one of the earlier versions and get yourself up to speed on that before you take the plunge and tackle this one.
Copyright © Rosemary Young 1995.
All rights reserved.
486DX33 (486DX2/66 recommended), 4MB RAM, 2xCD-ROM, VGA, DOS 5.0 or higher, keyboard/mouse