Game Over Online ~ Lemmings

GameOver Game Reviews - Lemmings (c) Phantom, Reviewed by - Fwiffo

Game & Publisher Lemmings (c) Phantom
System Requirements iPAQ/Casio/HP PocketPC, Colour screen
Overall Rating 74%
Date Published Thursday, July 26th, 2001 at 02:41 AM

Divider Left By: Fwiffo Divider Right

Lemmings began humbly as a Psygnosis title, who, like the modern day Eidos, almost single handedly crafted a behemoth from one franchise alone; Lemmings. Contained within the Pocket PC package of Lemmings is a disclaimer that all material belongs to Psygnosis. However, it has been so long that they probably do not care about the borrowing of artwork from the once great Lemmings series. Indeed, while Lemmings was guaranteed ubiquity when I was gaming as a child, it no longer can be considered so. Which kids these days have actually had the chance to play a decent Lemmings game? The puzzle genre as a whole seems to have marched on beyond its original and inherent passive nature. These days, I see titles like Samba de Amigo or Dance Dance Revolution categorized as puzzle.

In light of this, Lemmings for the Pocket PC seems to come from another time altogether. Its passive nature seems a bit out of place on the PC nowadays, as illustrated by the lack of commercial success of the ironically named, Lemmings Revolution. Irony aside though, the Lemmings paradigm, as I found out, melds nicely with the PDA platform. For one thing, Lemmings has always been a relatively passive title. Most of the Lemmings, until the later levels, are brainless. Tasks like digging, mining, or crawling, are delegated one at a time to lemmings individually. Each task follows another but there is ample time to carefully, think and plot out a plan to tackle the given level. The less than frenetic pace is much more welcome to the PDA world it seems.

There is absolutely no change in the style of play. Lemmings for the Pocket PC originally started as a pet project. When I first visited it, it lacked installation files and basic sound. However, now that the package has been wrapped up for all major Pocket PC hardware, including the Jornada 720 HPC, I have decided to put this title to the test. Indeed, the well thought out concepts from the PC carry over naturally to the Pocket PC version. The graphics remain faithful to the original Lemmings game and the only thing I could complain about would be the frightfully small size of the lemmings themselves. It makes it hard to correctly hit the stylus on a lemming but as time is usually not too much of a problem with the levels given, you can always herd the lemmings together before you start tackling the whole level. There are also problems with sensing when the game has ended. Sometimes, like when all the lemmings have committed suicide with the armageddon function, I was left staring at a blank map. In e audio department, the effects in Lemmings are a bit sparse. There are cute clips of easily recognizable Lemming sounds like when the Lemmings commit suicide. Moreover, the music is able to keep an upbeat mood. However, beyond that, Lemmings does not seem to offer much in the audio department. Although, in all honesty, I can't recall there were too many sound effects that accompanied the original Lemmings for the PC.

Less than a handful of levels accompany Lemmings. However, for the price it is offered at (free!), this is a very faithful version of an equally well known PC game. The developer of this title goes beyond offering a title for free. The source code and all the files needed to construct new levels are available for download as well. I'm sure open source pundits would be proud. This is impressive, especially considering that Pocket PC applications are becoming more and more expensive. How much development might be made on this by other developers or would-be level designers is a bit beyond me though.

That is not to say this title is a solid port. Indeed, the truth is far from it. The levels are named Test Levels on the main screen and there were times when I had a hard time getting the game to register strokes from my stylus, such that the only effective action I I could get the lemmings to perform was mass armageddon. The levels allow unlimited use of all the favorite specialist lemmings, so as to make it extremely easy as well. Options to make this title discrete, like an easy toggling of sounds played are non-existent. But still, the price indeed renders these complaints excusable. Ultimately, what this game proves, is that the PDA platform may be a better mesh for certain genres. A lot of developers have come to the Pocket PC arena, believing that the namesake Pocket PC immediately guarantees success on the platform by porting over PC games. Titles like Chopper Alley or Turjah try to exploit the audio-visual potential of Pocket PC machines and push it to a PC level. But recent titles like RocketElite have illustrated the potential flaws of this type of approach. RocketElite is simply a hyperactive version of the original Lander game. The graphics are, on first glance, utterly simplistic but yet it has garnered considerable critical acclaim. Likewise, I think this Lemmings games molds with the PDA platform a lot better than more elaborate productions of the PC vein. When I played this title, I fell in love again with the Lemmings concept and it goes to show that bigger is not necessarily better.

[07/10] Addictiveness
[10/15] Gameplay
[13/15] Graphics
[06/10] Interface/controls
[09/10] Program size
[08/10] Sound
[02/05] Discreetness
[12/15] Learning Curve
[ N/A ] Multiplayer


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