1 player, horizontal game
Atari Corp., for the Atari Lynx
Just for the record, real lemmings do not mindlessly jump off cliffs to their doom. This is a myth first staged in a Walt Disney nature film, and has now become a popular misconception. Nonetheless, Psygnosis released a famous computer puzzle game on this idea, and now LEMMINGS has reached the Atari Lynx. The premise is simple: You have a flock of green-haired lemmings that you must guide to an exit. The little critters walk forward mindlessly, regardless of obstacles and dangers in their way. By giving them skills like digging, climbing, and floating, you can help them avoid disaster. There are 120 stages all together, and a password is provided for each.
Gladly, LEMMINGS on the Lynx loses none of its appeal nor challenge in the conversion from the original. You select an ability, point the cursor on a lemming, then click to change his behavior. On the Lynx, two screens are used -- one for the side-scrolling map, and another for the menu of the lemmings' skills. The cursor moves a little slow, but it's not a problem, since it can still be moved while the game is paused, and allows for accurate positioning. Other options are to adjust the flow of lemmings, speed up the lemmings, and to restart the level.
There are 30 levels for each of the four difficulty settings. Naturally, the earliest stages are very easy, to get beginners up to speed, but the difficulty builds at a steady pace. Those who have conquered LEMMINGS on the home computers will find that this conversion uses the same levels, the same names, and the same passwords. While this means there is nothing new for the masters, it also means us novices can transplant our lemming-rescue skills easily. Purists will be upset to hear that the two-player competition from the original is gone, but most folks should not mind.
As with the game itself, the sights and sounds of the original LEMMINGS are transplanted almost identically on the Lynx. The lemmings themselves are a pleasant surprise; though only a few pixels tall, they remain very expressive and animated. Backgrounds are detailed, important information is always visible, and there's a little gratuitous scaling as well. In the audio department, the cries and sound effects from the source are nicely digitized, and a wide variety of background tunes play throughout the game. Owners of the new Lynxes which support stereo headphones will notice one oddity, though -- the music is played in both ears, but the sound effects come only through the right speaker.
The popularity and charm of LEMMINGS remains intact on the Lynx, and is still enjoyable even after all this time. With cute graphics and fun sounds to spice up the appeal, this game satisfies all but the most finicky players, while begging for an adaptation of the sequel.
GAMEPLAY: 9 GRAPHICS: 9 SOUND: 8.5 OVERALL: 9