Lemmings. Bloody Lemmings! Can't people just let go. Isn't it time we put them to sleep forever, time they jumped off that big cliff in the sky, time for Psygnosis to stop producing games featuring those pesky rodents who are extremely proficient at committing suicide? The answer to all the above questions is a resounding "No!" Why this reply? Well, due to public demand and the fact that the Lemmings series of games have sold like proverbial hot cakes, Psygnosis have decided to release yet another puzzle extravaganza.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not whinging about it, in fact I'm quite happy that another Lemmings game has appeared, but my mind unfortunately wanders back to Lemmings 2: The Tribes. This follow-up was a huge disappointment to me. I felt the creators had tried too hard and unknowingly changed the original winning formula beyond repair -and perhaps their ideas were just a tad too ambitious. Despite this criticism from myself, the game did damn well in the software charts and punters everywhere were rushing to see their doctors due to a serious second dose of Lemmings fever. Courtesy of those nice people at Psygnosis, a third instalment is now here. Will this new set of suicidal adventures reclaim some of the Lemmings glory from years gone by, or will it suffer like the sequel and end up jumping off the nearest cliff?
The All New World of Lemmings contains a set of new characters who aren't actually Lemmings. This gang of four inhabit the various islands and thus make the levels a lot harder to complete. The Potato Beast attacks the suicidal heroes of the game and should be avoided at all costs. The Psycho Buzzard plucks the heads off its helpless green-haired victims whenever they walk past. Lemme Fatale is a mimic who appears as a vision of great beauty to all the little Lemmings - she attracts them one at a time and watches as they commit suicide by blowing their brains out. These sequences are fairly graphical, but you'll find yourself laughing as they tend to appear quite unexpectedly.
Last, but by no means least is the Mole. Although this bespectacled fellow isn't pure evil, he does tend to cause you a lot of problems. He doesn't harm the Lemmings, but instead digs all over the place ruining some of your best laid plans. The mole can be useful to you though. Build bricks in front of him and you can make him dig where you want him to. The inclusion of these new stars is a nice touch and it shows that the creators haven't become too over ambitious this time around.
Although it's by no means a musical spectacular, the sounds contained within Lemmings 3 are considerably improved upon what your ears heard in the previous titles. The menu music is suitably 'menu-like' and comes across as some kind of tribal theme - appropriate as you control three Lemming tribes in the game. Each tribe has their own set of themed musical compositions. The Shadow Lemmings have a set of spooky, atmospheric and mood-filled tunes which perfectly match their sneaky behaviour. As a nod and a wink back to the past, the Classic Lemmings wander around to the jingles from the original game, although this time around they've been improved and have become much more up beat.
The Egyptian tribe music is not very Egyptian like, but sounds very similar to the menu theme. This is not a huge problem and I could be accused of being petty, but it would have been nice if the music had been kept at the same standard. Sound effects within the puzzle-filled adventure are few and far between. Whenever a Lemming makes it to the level exit, he/she joyfully shouts "Yippee", and before you decide to nuke them all they shout the now infamous "Oh No!". There is the odd smattering of speech here and there, but apart from that there isn't too much to brag about in the noises department. The music is quite good, although it's far too cheesy for my liking.
The first thing you'll notice as soon as you start to play are the sprites and backdrops contained within the game. It looks very much like the graphics from the first foray into Lemmingsville, but somehow it's altogether different. With ruler in hand and a quick measurement later, my theory was confirmed. The various pixels in this new piece of software are larger than the ones seen in previous instalments. A second look at the screen and not only are the Lemmings themselves bigger, but they've been animated far better. It's probably due to the new size of the graphics which enables the artists to include a lot more small, but important details.
There are three tribes to play around with; Classic. Egyptian and Shadow. Each tribe is stylised and although all the Lemmings tend to do the same things (i.e, build bridges, dig, etc.), there is a distinct difference between the three tribes. The classics have still got that infamous 'bouncy' walk, but the Egyptians perform a traditional 'sand dance' while the Shadow (ninjas to you and me) tribe sneak around on tip-toe as if they're about to appear in an episode of Mission Impossible. Not only have the sprites been given a new lick of paint, so too have the various backgrounds. You only have to take a quick glance at the screenshots to see how well they've improved over the previous Lemmings incarnations.
Overall you'd have to say that this new version beats the others hands down when it comes to the graphic side of things. The whole look of the game hasn't changed that drastically from the original concept. Instead it's been given a good spring clean and everything you see is bigger and better than anything that's gone before.
It's been quite a few years since I last played Lemmings and after playing the All New World of Lemmings for the last couple of weeks I didn't realise until now just how much I had missed those pesky rodents and their infuriating puzzles. There are still some annoyances though. When you 'nuke' your tribe, there are (not very good) explosions all over the place, but then disaster strikes as the screen fades to black far too quickly. What happened to the mass pixelated destruction which appeared in the original game?
The control system is still very similar to the original one, but there is a big difference. Instead of having dig, swim, build and float icons, the game substitutes all those activities for just one action icon. If a Lemming picks up an item, he keeps it until he dies or finds the exit. This might've caused a problem because all the Lemmings look identical, but luckily this fear of mine was suppressed.
With a quick stab of the right-button on the mouse, the garb that the Lemming is wearing changes colour, making it much easier to see him among his identical chums. This new control system takes a bit of getting used to, but thanks to its simplicity you'll soon be back on a Lemmings rescue mission.
If, by the way, you detest Lemmings in every possible form and dislike the idea of having to actually make your brain solve a puzzle, then this particular piece of software is not for you, in fact put this magazine down right now and go away.
Anyone who played the original game and liked it will love to get their hands on a copy of Psygnosis' latest offering. It's what you might call a conglomeration of old and new. The old being the original and incredibly addictive gaming concept, the new being the advances in graphics and sound. These two elements combined make for a rip-roaring action-packed 90-level puzzler that just gets better and better the more you play.
The All New World of Lemmings will make you cry when you lose a Lemming, it'll make you smile when you complete a level and it will even make you shout in anger when you mess up a level due to your lack of dexterity with the mouse. Quite simply, Psygnosis have come up with an emotion-filled puzzler that will delight any Amiga gamer with a fondness for those suicidal, green-haired Lemmings who just don't seem to go away.
On that subject, you'll notice that this game only contains three tribes. Well, don't, or maybe do fret because they'll be coming your way soon in the shape of three cash-sapping Lemming adventures featuring all the other tribes. It does seem that with these releases the Lemming phenomena will carry on going from strength to strength.
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