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In Memory
Sean Pettibone

Lemmings (PSP)


By Michael Palisano

Team 17 and SCEA have unleashed another invasion of the lovable Lemmings on the PSP. Lemmings features the classic gameplay and controls players have come to know and love over the years with some cool extras. Adding a new layer of enhanced graphics, plus wi-fi and game sharing gives the game a modern makeover with more than 100 levels in all. Players can also create and share levels with friends and play some all-new levels, which should add to the game's appeal. Read our review and find out why this classic title is worth playing again.

Taking it's place among the cult-favorite titles of it's era, Psygnosis' classic Lemmings offered players the chance to control the little critters as they tried to make their way over treacherous terrain to safety. Unfortunately, the Lemmings aren't really bright on their own and it was up to the player to guide them to their destination safely by making them perform tasks. In order to do this, the player is given the choice to assign each Lemming a specific task like digging, climbing, pounding, or drilling through obstacles. Others had more strategic acts such as the Blocker Lemmings to point the nearly ceaseless waves of creatures in the right direction. In addition, players can turn some of the Lemmings into bombs, which can be useful if you want to clear a path. To complete each level successfully, players need to save a certain percentage of the lemmings before the timer runs out. This added time sensitivity makes the gameplay even more challenging. As in many of the most durable games, Lemmings' objective was deceptively simple. The main challenge of the game was timing and figuring out which lemmings to assign specific tasks, which isn't as simple as it seems. The gameplay is relatively straightforward and nostalgic gamers will be happy to learn that Lemmings' basic game mechanics remain largely unchanged. Most of the gameplay remains just as appealing now as it did then, with a similar array vexing and challenging puzzles that made the original so addictive.

The PSP version stays true to the original game, and it's implementation is quite excellent, with controls and interface well suited to the console. The game's controls are easy to learn, and most players should be able to get the basic premise and controls right away. To control a lemming or assign it a task, You move the cursor around the screen and use this to select which of the cute critters you want to control. Once the critter has been selected, you can apply the ability to them simply. Cycling through the different tasks requires that players use the shift buttons, which makes for a smooth, intuitive interface. While the game could have been made much more elaborate with today's technology, the developers at Team 17 have instead opted for a classic approach that retains the essence of the original game. The PSP version gets a slight makeover with enhanced character animations and backdrops, which gives the game a welcoming, bright, and colorful appearance. This makes it look more appealing, but the perspective is still in side view. Lemmings retains the original's appealing 2D approach, and this window dressing mainly serves to keep the look fresh and up to date. One problem with the implementation on PSP is that the Lemmings seem a little bit tiny on the system's screen. To mitigate this, players can zoom in on the action for a close-up view, allowing for better control. This comes in handy when you want to target a specific lemming with a certain task or action. Using this approach allows for greater accuracy when selecting the characters to use. In addition to the visual upgrades, Lemmings also also includes new music tracks that play in the background to accompany the action. These are relatively inoffensive and give the game an upbeat feel.

From a gameplay standpoint, the variety and challenge that made the original Lemmings was very much present in this version, with some classic level alongside newly designed boards. The game includes more than 150 levels, 20 of which are all new and have been designed specifically for the PSP edition. This gives the game plenty of longevity and extends its replay value. While the earlier levels are straightforward, later levels increase in complexity and challenge. While the earlier stages are relatively simple and don't offer much in the way of variety, latter areas add more to do. Lemmings' initial stage give you a single task to assign to the lemmings, making it relatively easy to decide which one to use. Later levels present a greater challenge with more complicated objectives that require the player to think ahead and assign several different types of tasks to different Lemmings. This makes for some tricky decision-making and puzzle solving. In one level, your task is to guide the lemmings through a cavern. In order to do this; you'll need multiple blockers, then use builders to construct ramps, and bashers or drillers to create a path through the firmament. Perfoming all these tasks and assigning the Lemmings is quite challenging and vexing. It's this combination of skill and timing that makes Lemmings so addictive. Another aspect of the game is that makes it so addictive is the cuteness factor, which makes you laugh and smile at their goofy animations. This comic approach makes the game so appealing. Lemmings' simple presentation and objectives makes it a comfortable old friend for series veterans, while not intimidating newcomers with excessive complexity.

In addition to its standard modes, Lemmings also adds several interesting extra features that add plenty of value to the package. The most significant of these will be the ability to create and play your own levels using a construction feature. There are plenty of options you can use, with a number of tools available. The interface is fairly simple, so you can create and play quickly and effortlessly. This addition is really cool since you can save, trade and, upload these levels online using the WI-fi connection. This adds interactivity with other players, which increases Lemmings' portability. In addition, it also supports the PSP's game sharing mode, where players can send a few sample levels to someone who doesn't own the game. The game's presentation and production values are decent, but not exactly breathtaking. It's basically a remixed version of the original game, with some new additions and features. These add some replay value to the game, but it hasn't really changed all that much. Overall, Lemmings takes advantage of the PSP hardware, with a slightly retooled look and additions that make it a decent title that should appeal to a broad cross-section of players.

Grade: B

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