Video Game Thoughts: Lemmings

Lemmings was a 1994 puzzle platformer game by Ocean Software for the Nintendo Game Boy. I played Lemmings the first time on the old Apple II computers at school. Normally, we had to do more boring stuff like typing or math, but the teacher had a special reward for anyone that completed their weekly computer work early: we got to play games on the newer Apple II computers. One of the games was Lemmings. I had a lot of fun playing it at school, but I never got enough time to make much progress.

Just like many other times in my childhood. I had some extra money one day and wanted to buy a game. My mom took me to Toys R Us. I always loved going down the aisle and looking at all the game covers. There were many games I just skipped past not knowing anything about them. Lemmings was something I knew. I had played it before, and it looked promising. It was a safe bet. The game was as good as I expected.

Players had to guide these helpless “lemmings” creatures from the entrance to an exit. In the way were many dangerous obstacles. Most of the hazards were environmental like falling from too far of a height or drowning in water. To aid the player, they could transform a limited number of lemmings into specific workers. For example, “diggers” could dig straight down forming a long, vertical shaft. There were several other roles the lemmings could be given to help them progress through the level.

Each level was a fun puzzle to figure out a successful combination of workers. Timing also played a factor because the lemmings continually walked left and right. If there was a large drop, the player needed to make sure each lemming was blocked off from the hole or made into a “floater” with an umbrella to safely land. I pretty much enjoyed all the levels, but the last few got pretty hard. I remember putting down the game several times after getting stuck on those levels. One day for some reason, new ideas came to me, and I finally beat the game.

Lemmings was a pretty good game, but there were a few bad things. On the small Game Boy screen, the lemmings were tiny. It was hard to see what was going on sometimes. The black and white color didn’t help any. Despite each level being really fun to beat the first time, there really weren’t that many levels in the game. I don’t remember how many levels there were now, but I can’t remember more than maybe fifteen or twenty. At least there was some replay value though. The player could complete a few levels with different combinations of worker lemmings for a different gameplay experience. None of these downsides were that bad though. Most Game Boy games had the same problems too. I had a lot of fun finishing Lemmings. I previously only got a taste of this game, but now I got to have my fill.

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