Lemmings is one of the greatest puzzle games ever made. It’s easy to learn but hard to master, yet if you weren’t a gamer in the 80s or 90s there’s a good chance you’ve never heard of Lemmings, much less played it.
Thankfully that can now change thanks to developers Sad Puppy who have released a reboot of the classic series to smart-devices.
Honestly, I’m surprised it’s taken this long for Lemmings to reach phones and tablets as the gameplay is perfect for touch control input, as the awesome unofficial DS port demonstrates. Indeed, the Lemmings brand hasn’t seen a release since 2006 so I’d have thought this release would have seen more fanfare that it has, but anyway…
Sad Puppy’s Lemmings is a reimagining of the classic title. You still need to help the adorable little fellows not wander into an untimely end by having them build bridges and break through walls to get to the level exit so the core gameplay remains the same. However, the first difference you’ll notice is that levels are now vertical, not horizontal as in the original. This does make sense though as phones and tablets are intended to be held this way. It’s also an interesting way to mix things up.
The other big change is the way in which you give your Lemmings orders. In the original game you had to select which order you wanted to give out and then click on the Lemming you wanted to issue thecl order to at just the right time. This resulted in gamers needing precision and fast reflexes, especially in harder levels where you’d have several Lemmings performing diffirent tasks all at the same time. In Sad Puppy’s version the screen is divided up into a grid-like pattern and rather than select an individual Lemming, you select a portion of the grib and assign what action the Lemmings are to take when they reach it. This means that timing and precision isn’t no much of an issue and you can technically place all orders you want your Lemmings to carry out before they’ve reached the first step. You can then sit back and watch it all play out, pinpointing any mistakes you may have made.
A small caveat to this is that unlike the original you can’t pause the game and issue orders while the action is frozen. This does make sense given the change in how orders are issued as being able to do so would make things much too easy. But it also means you don’t have infinite time to plan ahead so a bit of that “on the fly” feeling is retained.
This far I’ve played through approximately 20 levels of Sad Puppy’s Lemmings. I’ve only had access to the Dig, Build, Blocker and Floater commands thus far but I’m hoping more will unlock as the game goes on and the levels become more complicated. There’s a nice little nod to the original game’s sequel with unlockable Tribe Lemmings. These are basically Lemmings in costumes and apart from looking cute I haven’t noticed any changes they make to the game, but they are a nice touch.
Visually and musically the game is solid. It looks just like I’d imagine a HD release of Lemmings to look like and the music is a wonderfully ambient mix. It may not be quite as catchy as the original’s midi renditions of Mozart and other classic masters pieces but it works perfectly well. It’s also a joy to hear the squeaky Lemmings call out “let’s go!” and “oh, no!” once more, as well as a few new phrases.
Sad Puppy has perfectly captured and updated the Lemmings gameplay for the smartphone generation. It’s a real shame that the game seemingly hasn’t caught the attention of the games media and the world at large like other classic re-imaginings have as Lemmings deserves to be up there with Crash, Sonic, Mario and the others. Hopefully more people will notice Sad Puppy’s Lemmings and the game – and franchise – will get the attention it deserves.