Wednesday, June 7, 2006
Good: Excellent gameplay, personality, challenge, control scheme
Bad: Still pretty much the same game it was 15 years ago
Worst Sight: Watching dozens of your Lemmings plummet to their death because you forgot to place a Blocker
Many gamers have fond memories of staring at their PC monitors, trying to figure out how the hell to get a bunch of Lemmings to their destinations. Now they can stare at their PSP screens and do the same thing 15 years later.
For those unfamiliar with the long-running series, Lemmings is all about escorting a bunch of thickheaded, green-haired creatures to the end of a level without dying. There are no enemies at all, just environmental hazards (pits, spikes, pistons, etc.). Using special abilities, you can command the Lemmings to dig, mine, climb, float, build staircases, explode, block and bash through walls. If you don't tend to them they'll just keep walking, even if that means plummeting into a lava pit.
The PSP does a surprisingly excellent job of controlling the onscreen action. Shoulder buttons cycle through your available abilities, the d-pad controls the cursor and the analog stick moves the camera. It's now possible to lock-on to a specific Lemming, which makes it easier to be precise when there's a huge crowd in a small area. Once you've set up all the paths and staircases you need to complete a level, you can hold the circle button to fast-forward the action and watch your Lemmings reach their destination.
At the beginning of each level, it's best to pause the action and survey your surroundings. Early levels have blatant clues in their titles like "Bash in the Direction of the Arrows," but later stages will seriously test you. There are countless stages that I failed over and over, and told myself "there's no possible way this can be done." It's times like these that you'll have an epiphany and completely understand what you need to do. Those moments are what makes Lemmings a classic game, and well worth playing no matter which genre you're a fan of.
The problem lies in the fact that this is essentially the exact same game as it was fifteen years ago, just with a new coat of paint. Granted, there are nearly 30 new stages, and they're all of the same quality we've come to expect from Lemmings. If you're an experienced Lemmings player, it's possible to blow through these stages very quickly. This is what makes it hard to justify the $39.99 price tag to those who have played the game before.
Like I mentioned earlier, one of the only real differences is the new coat of paint in terms of graphics. Lemmings was never heavy on flashy effects or visuals, but this new version is appealing to the eye in a very basic way. Backgrounds look nice, Lemmings animate smoothly and there's no slowdown. Audio is somewhat sparse outside of the simple tunes and rare Lemmings voice clips (generally along the lines of "wheeee!" or "yippee!").
I really did have a lot of fun with this title, but it's filled with a constant feeling of "been there, done that." Like the PSP remakes of Mega Man X and the original Mega Man, this is a genuinely fun title that I can't fully recommend for purchase thanks to the high price for a game we've all played before.
First Play: 8.5
Replay Value: 5.0