Thursday, 31 July 2014

Lemmings (NES)

The 3rd option is a lie.

Perhaps it's an odd thing to watch multiple things running and scurrying along before unwittingly hurling themselves to their deaths. But enough of thinking about investment bankers, I'm here to review Lemmings and in particular on the NES. Brace yourself, shit games are coming.


If you've not worked out from the first paragraph, I'm not in favour of this game in the slightest. This goes two-fold on the grounds that as a rendition of Lemmings, the NES version is very weak and in my opinion (and when I compare it to other systems and platforms) shouldn't have been ported to the NES as a crappy cash-in attempt but rather left for more powerful and more capable systems that can handle the workload of sending hundreds of bankers (Sorry, Lemmings) off to their inevitable doom.

At least I get to kill one of the little bastards.

For those not in the know, take up to 100 furry little critters and drop them into an arena where there's possible jobs to give them in order to get a prerequisite number of the lemmings back out again. This can be from 1 to all of them back out through the exit doorway. Your basic lemming will walk back and forth and fall off edges if it can. Falling too far will kill the lemming while so will water drown your lemming, traps will trigger to kill it and you can always blow it up yourself if you want.

Sometimes there's a little trick to the levels, spelled out like a slap in the balls.

Lemmings can be given various job is you've the option to do so, from bashing through the walls horizontally, mining down through them at an angle, digging straight down, given umbrellas to survive long falls, ability to climb walls, build bridges... slowly, stop and prevent other lemmings walking past (until blow up), blow them up or blow them all up because a) You like fireworks or b) You screwed up the level too badly to win and you're not waiting 2minutes for the end of the level time limit to pass.

Just kill them all.

For a lot of levels at the start, it's quite simple. You get x amount of a key skill that you'll need to assign to get the lemmings into the exit and out in the open world of ... another death trap. While later levels it becomes a little more vague what needs to be done in that some of the possibilities won't help at all and others will but only if one lemming is doing x, another is doing y and a third is doing your mum. Or not, but it might as well be. Other puzzles end up being pixel perfect requirements of where to place bridges and blockers and losing too many lemmings because your bridge was a pixel too high at the end of its length, that all your bankers fall to their doom, is a very common occurrence.

The fun begins... oh dear god help me.

While I have to admit I'm not a fan of the game, I can still appreciate the puzzle structure that is picking and choosing which chars will go where to do what and when, it's just a very finicky control system that tends to be time and time again not so much the players fault for getting the wrong choice, but the wrong choice at the wrong time offset by one pixel.

I think the bigger question is, would I care enough to want to do it again?

While on the NES, it gets far worse. The graphics have been toned down, but one would expect that for a 16bit game going onto an 8bit machine. But in doing so the levels looks like pastiche's of the original and there's little here that's original that would have suited the NES better. The controls aren't bad for the game, holding B will let you select between one option and another while attributing lemmings with that skill/ability is done with A and it works well for the two-button system. But the way the game is displayed and the odd transfer in resolutions of original screen size to NES screen size, means that the reticule is slightly elongated in one direction and there's a fair level of imprecision when picking a lemming.

I lost mine with this game, a long time ago

And thanks to the lack of graphics in the game compared to other ports, you don't even get a nice firework effect when you nuke all the annoying little shits. If you're a fan of lemmings, stay away from this one, get it on something more powerful and don't even take the time to look in, it's really not worth it at all.