Between Lemmings and Mega Man Powered Up, online custom map trading is becoming the new hotness. Long live extended replay value!
Once upon a time, Rockstar Games - the company formerly known as DMA Designs - created a game that took both PC & Mac gamers by storm. Their creation, a simple game called Lemmings, would eventually rival the ubiquity of worldwide smashes such as Tetris, appearing in mass quantities on computers and home consoles. So, technically, Rockstar started off making "teh kiddy" games - they weren't always known for their violent, congressional controversy inducing titles like they are today. History lesson over.
As previously noted, the Lemmings franchise started off as a simple game that tested the limits of trial and error. We're glad to report that although it's 15 years later, the simplicity factor still remains. For those of you who were old enough to remember the original Lemmings, you'll undoubtedly find familiarity with Lemmings on the PSP. After all of these years, the game play mechanics haven't changed much, they've simply been adapted to take ample advantage of the new hardware. For instance, the mouse controls have been mapped to the PSP's analog nub, so moving the nub allows you to easily move about the game's now-gorgeous levels. Wisely, the D-Pad functions as a cursor of sorts, meaning that you can individually target each lemming to initiate various jobs. Each job can be effortlessly selected by utilizing the PSP's shoulder buttons to navigate the job assignment menu, located at the bottom of the screen. The triangle button and circle button allow you to zoom in on game play, and fast-forward the action respectively.
For those of you who are thinking about picking up Lemmings for the first time, the PSP version is a good place to start. While the gameplay isn't too complex, you may be looking at the screenshots, scratching your head, and wondering just how things work. Each stage in Lemmings features an entrance and an exit, and your goal is to maneuver your batch of lemmings to the exit in one piece. Problem is there are loads of obstacles and issues to overcome before you can safely navigate the not-very-bright lemmings to their destination. This is where assigning each lemming a specific job comes into play - a feature that makes Lemmings quite a mind-bending game wrapped up in a simple premise. Each lemming can be assigned jobs like miners - which can burrow paths at an angle, builders - which can help build bridges, and floaters - which can utilize umbrellas to float down from large heights. In total there are 8 jobs that you can assign to your lemmings, and trust us when we tell you that you'll have to utilize each and every last one of them.
If you're familiar at all with developer Team 17's work in the past, then you've likely noticed visual similarities between PSP Lemmings, and recent episodes of the Worms franchise. If you're not careful, at first glance it's easy to be fooled into thinking that you're looking at a copy of Worms: Open Warfare for the PSP. Certainly, this case of mistaken identity from a visual standpoint can only be considered a good thing, seeing as that Worms: Open Warfare beautifully incorporated 3D environments into a traditional 2D landscape. It's safe to say that with the fresh coat of paint, and the PSP's beauty of a widescreen, the Lemmings franchise has never looked better.
Regardless if you're a newcomer to the franchise, or someone who's been down since '91, Lemmings is sure to offer something for everyone. There are over 100 levels from previous outings, spanning four difficulty ranges. If that's not enough, there's a whole new batch of levels with varying degrees of difficulty as well. Still, if that doesn't convince you that replay value's there, you'll be able to create your own levels via the included level editor, and trade them with friends, or over the Internet. Here's hoping that we can get some new levels from the original design team! Veterans of the game know what they're in store for come May's release date - vastly updated graphics, intuitive controls, and the possibility of infinite level maps to tackle. Newcomers to the fray can expect the same thing, except you'll probably end up asking yourself, "just why did I wait so long to play a Lemmings title in the first place?"