In true knock-off tradition, The Humans basically takes the formula that made Lemmings a success, gives it a slight twist and tacks on whatever fad was popular at the time in order to give it some kind of distinguishing element. Seeing that the game was created in the early nineties, the gimmick of choice was – what else – cavemen and dinosaurs. As far as gimmicky copycat titles go, however, this one actually manages to stand on its own! Now to be fair, this game has a few things going for it, and it isn’t all too close a copy of the original premise. Apart from the setting (cavemen instead of little green-haired creatures), The Humans differs from Lemmings in two main areas. First, whereas Lemmings gives you a different number of creatures in each level, and you have to save a certain number of them in order to succeed, The Humans starts you out with twelve cavemen, using four to seven of them in each level. You only need to keep one of them alive in order to finish each stage, but each death will take one of your overall “tribe” away. Once the overall number of humans you have at your disposal drops below the number of humans needed to succeed in a particular level, it’s game over. You can raise the number of your tribe members by saving captured humans throughout certain levels, by the way. You have eighty levels to complete, so there is a long way to go until you see the ending of the game. The other difference: Unlike in Lemmings, your humans don’t run blindly to their doom… not right away anyway. You get to control all of your humans individually. At first they can only climb ladders or stack upon one another in order to reach higher platforms. Some levels contain tools the humans can use, which enables a number of additional abilities. There are four basic tools which are revealed over time: The spear, the torch, the rope and the wheel. In some stages you have a shaman at your disposal, who can sacrifice a tribe member in exchange for one of these four items. Before you do that, you should carefully plan which you absolutely need, because once summoned, the creature is lost forever. With a spear, for example, a human can jump, he can attack while standing still, or he can throw it in an arc – useful for attacking or passing the tool back to a friend. So yeah, humans can actively fight against enemies (like other tribes or dinosaurs) in this game. Be careful not to accidentally kill one of your own tribe members by throwing a spear into him by accident, though. The game design at some points leads to a few unfortunate situations that make the level unbeatable. For instance, if you have only one tool at your disposal and you need it to throw across a gap, but the throw ends up too short, you can immediately restart the stage; you won’t get a second try. This can be frustrating when you can see the needed item just in front of you but are unable to reach it after you messed up another throw, or your only available human forgot to take an item with him and dropped down a small ledge, still alive but unable to get back up. Maybe it isn’t fair to call up so many comparisons to Psygnosis’ classic puzzle game, but it’s hard to deny that The Humans tried to conjure a similar feeling and appeal to a similar audience. And I admit, for a while I had a little fun with the chubby little creatures. In the long run the game isn’t as entertaining as its role model. Still, if you are a fan of the genre, it’s a great way to pass a few hours.

More news: Generation Amiga magazine