Lemmings has long been a favourite of many, even those who never owned the original relaese on Amiga. That's because we've seen plenty of iterations for the likes of the Super Nintendo, although with this version it was noticable that a D-pad wasn't the best replacement for the precision and speed of a mouse, and certainly the Lemmings became terribly small and blurry on a 28-inch 4:3 TV sitting a few meters away with the Super Nintendo connected via an antenna cable. On top of that, the whole console felt like it was about to explode and freeze up when 100 lemmings collectively gathered on the screen.
But what the heck, it was fun, and when more versions came out we understood the greatness of the concept. After all, the concept is really simple and maybe the reason why it stood the test of the time so well. Basically, it's all about saving small Lemmings (mischief makers!) - wearing green hairstyles modern amongst English kings in medieval times - from a certain death. Reportedly, the Lemmings keep on marching in the real world until they fall over cliffs, although we can't quite confirm that.
The game offers a hysterically high pace where you have to build bridges, fix parachutes, and deploy stopping units that prevent the kamikaze creatures from death by slowing their pace. Despite the ingenious basic concept, Sony has experimented with Lemmings for almost two decades without really delivering anything that's as enjoyable as the earliest games in the series (which, incidentally, were developed by DMA Design - today known as Rockstar North, the manufacturer of Grand Theft Auto).
Often developers have tried to make better-looking and bigger lemmings, as well as added things no one really asked for, destroying the simple core premise in the process. But now Sony - who owns the rights to the series - has decided to release the game to smartphones, both Android and iOS, and it feels like a good decision. The reason we've given so much background up front is because this new version does a good job at retaining the core concept, and those who know what Lemmings are about will know what this game is about too.
Smartphones, as you know, comes with a large touchscreen that developer Sad Puppy Games has used in the best way. Something we immediately noticed when we started playing on our Huawei P20 Pro is the fact that the small lemmings are back again. The most recent games have generally had large, comic book-like animals, while this is a direct return to how it looked when it was released in the early '90s.
The game controls have also received relevant and reasonable additions such as the fact that the stages are now divided into boxes which you can assign properties to. For example, mark a box with a stop sign, and the first lemming that reaches it starts blocking the others. In this way you can also prepare construction, digging, and more. The most important feature of this is just putting an umbrella under high ledges, whereupon all the lemmings falling over it get the umbrella and land alive.
Previously, as you know, you had to click on each individual lemming to give them specific properties, but this works much better without destroying the game's foundation. The graphics are also clear and colourful thanks to today's razor-sharp screens, meaning it's a pleasure to see these suicidal runners trotting around and (hopefully) reaching their goal.
However, Lemmings has a very (very) big minus - it's free-to-play. Right from the starting menus you're met with the opportunity to throw in money for various cheats, and the difficulty level is quickly increased to levels that almost deem it necessary to throw in cash in order to progress. However, everything can be unlocked by playing, but the number of commands and tasks you can give to the Lemmings is limited, and you will shortly end up having to wait one day before you can spin on a wheel to get more commands. Or pay up, of course.
Lemmings is completely lost in micro-transactions and you are really guided towards paying. This is an incredible shame and had it only been possible to buy the game for an amount of money, then the grade would have been several numbers up. It's actually that good, but once again micro-transactions have succeeded in sabotaging an otherwise entertaining product.