Aug 12 2009
Lemmings is a game that spawned a whole genre of puzzle games – “Save the little critters”. The Lemmings were the cutest, most ‘saveable’ creatures ever and it certainly appealed to the right market. Just about everyone played Lemmings at some stage and it was converted to almost every platform under the sun – even the Game Gear got a version!
Originally developed as a mini-wargame, DMA had a bunch of little soldiers storming machine-gun nests and charging up hills to take a fort, but through some dodgy AI, the soldiers would suicide regularly – charging off cliffs, falling into rivers and most of the time was spent trying to stop them. Add in a lateral thinking and a race of creatures that tend to suicide en masse in real life and the concept for Lemmings was born.
The initial cry of “Let’s Go!” set the scene as the Lemmings would continue walking in a straight line as far as they were able. You granted your Lemmings special powers like Blocker, Digger, Climber and Floater and learned to apply them as the level design calls for it. Get as many Lemmings to safety as fast as possible to finish the level. Any outstanding Lemmings could be dealt with in an extremely thorough fashion. Press the nuke button and a little 5 second counter appeared above their heads and when reaching ‘1’ the Lemming would scream “Oh No!” and explode in a shower of pixels, blowing holes in the landscape as they shuffled off this mortal coil.
Lemmings was a big money-spinner for both Psygnosis and DMA Design. DMA Design eventually went on to start another extremely high-profile and successful franchise – Grand Theft Auto and Psygnosis went on to fame and fortune publishing the exceptional Wipeout games on Playstation.
Not everyone liked Lemmings of course, its ‘satanic’ imagery was called into question by some church-going groups but on the whole it was a game that appealed to a broad range of family members.
Lemmings spawned a number of sequels – Lemmings 2: Two Tribes and Lemmings 3D as well as data disks and even Lemmings Paintball!