Since the incredible success of the initial Lemmings game, Psygnosis has done its best to rekindle the craze. Aside from re-releasing the original on numerous platforms, there has been a steady stream of sequels and level add-ons. And just as steadily, the fun factor has been draining. Lemmings 3D was the culmination of a line of games gone horribly wrong. Finally though, the little green-haired guys have been vindicated with Lemmings Paintball. Its just a shame that so many people will likely ignore this game because of its recent predecessors.
Lemmings Paintball drops the "virtual" moniker of Lemmings 3D and instead opts for a more traditional isometric view. Strangely enough, I feel that the isometric perspective is really quite three-dimensional and allows for better control. A wise man once said, "flexibility is nice, but without control you might as well be a jellyfish". Ok, maybe a wise man didn't really say that. Maybe its blaringly obvious. Maybe I just made it up. Maybe I should move on.
The usual Lemmings-like puzzles are still the main focus of the gameplay. These critters haven't gotten any smarter, they've just been armed. You still need to guide them along with the utmost of care. Quite often you will get that Kevorkian-esque feel as you accidentally lead them to their deaths in a trap you failed to recognize or predict. The overall goal has changed, and this is where the "Paintball" part comes in: instead of leading your Lemmings home, you have to collect (capture) flags. The sinister part is that there are other Lemmings hanging around in the levels, trying to prevent your Lemmings from achieving that aim. So, aim is exactly what you must do. Aim and shoot paintball guns while the enemy likewise returns fire.
When you play the game, the paintball angle feels like a natural addition to the Lemmings concept. Ok, maybe rodents playing capture-the-flag doesn't sound terribly realistic, but what did you expect from suicidal rodents with green hair? Trust me, it works. No really. Honest. It's fun.
Despite the disappointing nature of the network support in Lemmings Paintball, it is still a highly addictive single player problem-solving game. In addition, Psygnosis has been clever enough to include a Windows update of the original Lemmings (plus the add-on levels). This update is simply superb and I can no longer complain about the performance of Lemmings on a PC. The save game feature on the update is especially nice, so much better than entering in those long, painful codes. One wonders why they stuck with the codes for Lemmings Paintball. The best version of Lemmings is still the original on the Amiga, but I would have to count this Windows update as the next best thing.
Long ago, when the original Lemmings entered the computer gaming circuit, game enthusiasts were enthralled by a new morbid, yet somehow cute game. Lemmings - where the object was to guide a relentlessly marching troop of otherwise suicidal creatures to safety - was an addicting title that actually required the player to exercise mind-racking ingenuity on the fly. Many sequels to this original title have since been released by Psygnosis, the latest having been Lemmings 3D, which expanded upon the linear puzzles found in previous Lemmings titles by adding a new dimension to the action. Lemmings Paintball, Psygnosis' most recent pledge in the Lemmings brotherhood, takes quite a different approach to our favorite self-abusive creatures. The sweat that the first Lemmings produced on your brow may not be there, but die-hard Lemmings fanatics may still get a kick out of this new edition.
Unlike previous Lemmings scenarios, the levels in Paintball are rendered in three-quarter perspective. You begin with anywhere from one to four Lemmings, controlled separately or as a group (a la Syndicate). Armed with paintball guns, these guys have to wander through each level, be-splattering any enemies who cross their paths, their goal being to capture one or more flags that lie in some area of the map. Tricks and traps such as collapsing floors, paint-mines, and lava pits befall the pint-sized adventurers in their travels. You must carefully utilize elevators, keys, and balloons to overcome these obstacles, and in some instances, one of your lemmings may have to activate a lever to free his lemming comrades who are trapped elsewhere in the level. The strategic element, while not always brilliant, is still present, and this time around, if you get tired of playing one of the 100 or so levels, you can always play Paintball over the network.
Sadly, I had a lot of problems with Lemmings Paintball, and two things that saved this game for me were the soundtrack and the fact that Psygnosis included two of the classic Lemmings titles as a bonus. The problem is, while the graphics are pretty good and some of the levels may be challenging, the game ends up leaving a great deal to be desired. The lemmings still move to your beck and call, proceeding from point A to point B even if danger lies in between. So, while the puzzles aren't terribly difficult in themselves, the difficulty in having to navigate these dumb creatures around the precipitous terrain of each level can quickly become frustrating. Again, although veteran Lemmings-heads will probably derive some satisfaction from Lemmings Paintball, the title's bizarre gameplay makes it hard to compare this game to its predecessors.
People who downloaded Lemmings Paintball have also downloaded:
Lemmings Chronicles, The (a.k.a. All New World of Lemmings), Lemmings Revolution, Lemmings: Oh No! More Lemmings, Lemmings Holiday, Lemmings, Lemmings 2: The Tribes, Lemmings for Windows 95, 3D Lemmings
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