Review: Lemmings 2, a famous franchise that would sell 15+ million copies
Once upon a time, the twelve lemming tribes of Lemming Island lived joyfully and peacefully. However, an ancient prophecy foretells a great darkness soon to cover the island. This prophecy tells that the only way the lemmings can live is by getting off their island, using the power of the Lemming Talisman. This talisman consists of twelve pieces, one owned by each tribe. With the help of the Guide that has helped them before, all lemmings must now reach the center point of their island in order to escape their doom. Lemmings 2 is a sequel to Lemmings. The object in both games is to rescue the lemmings on each level by instructing them how to make their way to the exit. The lemmings fall, one at a time, from a trapdoor in the sky onto some platform on the level. Once a lemming touches down, he will walk left or right until he hits an obstacle and turns around, or walks off the edge of the platform and falls to the next platform. Short falls are no problem, medium falls stun the lemming for a moment, and long falls are generally fatal. You assist the lemmings by giving them special skills at appropriate moments, enabling them to construct their own way to the exit. Skills are assigned by choosing an on-screen button and then clicking on the lemming. For example, if there is an obstacle on the current platform between a group of lemmings and the exit, you might instruct one of the lemmings to bash his way through the obstacle. When he’s finished, all the lemmings can follow him through to the exit. This is, of course, a very simple example; and as you progress through the levels, the gyrations you’ll need to urge the lemmings through will get progressively more complex. Lemmings 2 features about 60 different skills which you can assign to the little blue guys: jet pack, hang glider, basher, fencer, planter, glue pourer, bazooka, hopper, kayaker, pole vaulter, rock climber, and more.
On any particular level, you’ll have some subset of the available skills to assign, and there’s always a limit to the number of times you can assign each skill. These limits are often what make a level tricky. Given enough flame throwers and ramp builders, one can probably solve any level, but doing so with just two twisters and a platformer, there’s the trick. To add just one more dimension, there’s a time limit on each level. When you’ve completed a level, you’ll get a bronze, silver or gold medal, depending on how many lemmings you saved. It’s important to save as many lemmings as possible on each level, since only the survivors advance to the next level; and to win, you’ll need at least one lemming who survives through all ten levels of his tribe. On some levels, saving every lemming is impossible, since, for example, you may need to use an “exploder,” which destroys the lemming. On other levels you can be a bit wasteful, losing a few lemmings, and still get a gold medal. A perfect game will require you to get a gold medal on every level. Altogether there are a dozen different tribes, each with their own `culture,’ for a total of 120 different levels. There are space lemmings, cave lemmings, polar lemmings, sports lemmings and lots more. Each tribe has a different habitat, and you will need different skills to navigate them through their levels. Ice skaters probably won’t help much in Egyptian World. You can switch from tribe to tribe at will, so if you get stuck on, say, space lemming level 3, you can play “cavelem” levels for a while and come back to space lemming level 3 when you’ve perhaps discovered some new techniques. You can also replay any level you’ve completed, in the hope of saving more lemmings than last time around.
To hone your skills, there is a practice area. Here, you can select any eight skills you like, and then practice with them in one of four different worlds. This is a LOT of fun; not needing to worry about saving the lemmings leaves you lots of time to use them to flatten out the landscape and then watch them practice their pole vaulting. Lemmings 2 is a subtle blend of action and strategy. On some levels, brute force will succeed; but in general, you need to be very clever in allocating your limited skills to rescue the little guys. Usually, timing is important as well. Technically, the game is marvelous in every respect. Sound, graphics, animation, controls and playability are all excellent. The sound effects are very cute: a lemming yells “let’s go” at the start of each level, and as lemmings leave the exit, they shout “yippee.” The music is wonderful, fitting the moods of the tribes very well. The graphics and animation are detailed. From the way the lemmings struggle to crawl into a cannon, to the variety of different musical instruments the attractors play, there’s a wealth of amusement. The scrolling is very smooth. The introduction, in which the storyteller explains the plight of the lemmings to a youngster, is a top-notch animation. The controls are very well thought out. In addition to the skill buttons and lemmings themselves, there are four additional controls: paws (pause), nuke (to blow up all the lemmings and try again should the situation on a level become hopeless), fan (to assist you in blowing around airborne lemmings) and fast-forward (to hurry everything along when you’ve set things up just right and the lemmings just need to finish walking through the maze to the exit.) There are keyboard shortcuts for all the controls, so you don’t need to keep moving the mouse between the lemmings and skill buttons. At any time, pressing escape will restart the current level. Lemmings 2 is in short one the greatest games ever released on the Commodore Amiga platform, it was released over 30 different platforms and sold over 15,000,000+ copies worldwide.