PS3 Lemmings: demo impressions from a Lemmings noob

Before you can live, you must climb!

Lemmings is a fifteen-year old franchise that has seen numerous incarnations through the years. While the gameplay mechanics have always managed to keep gamers hooked, I was one of those who was turned off by the premise. All I knew about the game was the player’s job: to keep the lemmings from dying by whatever means necessary, and that didn’t really sound like fun.

I guess working for QJ has its surprises then, as they wanted my impressions on the demo of Team 17‘s PS3 version of the game. When I politely declined the offer at first, the words, “Do you want me to fire you?” brought out that instinctual response to live, a trait lemmings sorely needed. And so, here we are with an outsider’s view into the world of rodent saving. Funny thing is, it’s actually kind of fun.

No lemmings were actually harmed in the making of this article. Except for the ones in the Full Article.

Before you can live, you must climb!

Lemmings is a fifteen-year old franchise that has seen numerous incarnations through the years. While the gameplay mechanics have always managed to keep gamers hooked, I was one of those who was turned off by the premise. All I knew about the game was the player’s job: to keep the lemmings from dying by whatever means necessary, and that didn’t really sound like fun.

I guess working for QJ has its surprises then, as they wanted my impressions on the demo of Team 17‘s PS3 version of the game. When I politely declined the offer at first, the words, “Do you want me to fire you?” brought out that instinctual response to live, a trait lemmings sorely needed. And so, here we are with an outsider’s view into the world of rodent saving. Funny thing is, it’s actually kind of fun.

Rodent Saving 101

Before we can get to the specifics of actual gameplay, newcomers will always have to learn how to play. Since it’s a downloadable game, we didn’t expect any actual walkthroughs, but checking the options link will lead you to the aptly-named “How to Play” page.

This “How to Play” page was basically a list of the controls you had to use to get your lemmings through hell. For people who’ve tried this before, taking a quick glance at the directions will get you up to speed on how this version works. Newbies might need a little experimentation on the first level to figure out what each button does in context with the gameplay, but it shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to understand the basics.

Your Inner Lemming: Controls and Gameplay

Yeah, he'll get chopped by the axe.Lemmings aren’t suicidal, just stupid. If Ubisoft‘s Rabbids are dumb, then lemmings are idiots in pixel form, to the point that they will walk straight into a spinning hacksaw without any hesitation until their brains tell them, “Hey dude, we’re being sawed in half.” That is why these little critters need you to act like God for them.

To finish each stage, you’ve got to use the skills you begin each level with to help a minimum number of lemmings reach the exit gate without harm. The demo is made up of five levels, which might seem kind of pointless. For all the simplicity in their setup, however, you may end up feeling rather dumb by level 2 if you can’t figure out how to get them past gaps.

To do that, you have to use the controls in conjunction with the existing effects in each new stage. You’ve got 8 skills to use, though some of them will be disabled depending on the stage. Some of these skills allow your lemmings to dig holes, climb walls, block other lemmings from passing by them, and even force them to self-destruct, opening passages in the process. To get a lemming to use a skill, just hover the cursor over one, use the L1 and R1 triggers to pick a skill, and click X to make the targeted lemming do it.

There are some problems with this. Highlighting a moving target isn’t easy, and keeping the target locked on it will take some practice. Because the game requires timing in certain areas to proceed, you’ll have to make liberal use of the pause button and your latent micromanagement skills to study the terrain and leave your cursor hovering over the point where you want each lemming to activate a skill.

Play Impressions:

Yeah, they have an umbrella attachment.A macho, Ponies and Kittens-loving guy like myself finds something very weird in the idea of Lemmings. You know deep down that it’s a kids game, and the splash screen for the game when you start it up doesn’t fail to reaffirm that point.

Despite that, it’s rather fun to play. While the feeling of accomplishment in saving a lemming is different from decapitating a zombie, the accomplishment is still there.

If you’ve got siblings or kids, then a game like this would be a great way to teach logic and interact with them. At the same time, more mature gamers can find something worthwhile in either saving lemmings or throwing the rulebook out and imagine different ways to either save the critters, or kill them. It’s mean, but in this world of fragging, a little lemming going SPLAT does bring just as much satisfaction as a well-placed headshot.

Of course, the demo makes it clear that this game is about fun. Game over screens aren’t really expected to happen, as you have an unlimited number of tries to get past each obstacle and level. Demo levels are short, so there’s not much backtracking and frustration involved. If the full version has very complicated challenges though, then some gamers may find more frustration than fun if they can’t figure out how to get past a level.

Overall, if you’re looking for a puzzle game that’s got charm and nostalgic sentiments, this is a great game to try. If you’re looking for something for the family, then it’s also a great game. The only people who might not find themselves enamored with Lemmings are those who won’t have the patience to keep seeing just what lies beyond the next gate.

You move... you may die. - Image 1You move... you may die. - Image 2

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