Review by SneakTheSnake

Reviewed: 01/26/11

Lemmings in a can

I’ve missed the Lemmings. It was that be-all-end-all puzzle series in the early 90’s, on every console, on every kind of computer imaginable. Maybe it was the intriguing, puzzling gameplay, having to eke out resources carefully in order to get the Lemmings to their goal. Maybe it was the sadistic way players could boot up the game just to watch a group of pixelated punks fall cluelessly to their deaths. Aw, heck, it was just for the death part. Just kidding.

In 2000, Lemmings Revolution was released with little fanfare, and that’s just about been the nail in the coffin for the official Lemmings community, save for a brief rejuvination in 2005. Lemmings Revolution does little to breathe new life into the franchise; it’s still very much the same gameplay. It just takes place in a cylinder.

If it doesn’t bother you that there isn’t much changed for Lemmings Revolution, then you’ll certainly be satisfied with what the game has to offer. Frankly, I think that’s fine; though I’m usually for progression from sequel to sequel (save for the obligatory graphics / interface upgrade), what’s here is good. Lemmings 2 tried to overcomplicate things with adding literally dozens of jobs, and that took things a bit off course. Lemmings Revolution sticks to its guns, and it works.

The goal of Lemmings, of course, is to guide these hapless creatures to the exit. Players do this by assigning Lemmings different jobs, which they do automatically upon assignment (or, in the case of a climber, as soon as they hit a barrier they can climb up). Blocks prevent other Lemmings from passing to potentially dangerous territory; bombers blow up a small hole in the terrain for Lemmings to pass through; builders can construct staircases on the fly, and so on. It comes at a nice balance, as there’s a set requirement in every level for how many Lemmings must make it to the exit.

Difficulty ramps up nicely in Lemmings Revolution. Interestingly, the game gives players the option of branching paths; finish one level, and two new ones open up. The whole level map is set as a lopsided triangle, with its one end representing the first level. The levels increase in difficulty and intensity. More Lemmings will need to be taken through the level, and sometimes at a faster pace. Easier levels will have the player working with only a set number of jobs for a set number of Lemmings; others will give you each job available from the get-go and have you figure out what works best. Sometimes there are multiple solutions to maps as well; is it possible to bomb the barrier outright, or would it be wiser to climb over it? Can players dig through to a lower, safer level of terrain, or can a Lemming build a staircase to climb upward over an obstacle? It’s all give and take.

The only real hook for Lemmings Revolution is that it’s now necessary for players to rotate the level. The entire level map is no longer visible in one fell swoop; it’ll be necessary to rotate at certain points, as each level takes place on a large cylinder. This adds an extra layer of challenge, as it isn’t always possible to see the entrance, exit and all oncoming obstacles at the same time. I can see the cylindrical design as necessary, to be perfectly honest; it was probably just a way for players with low-res monitors to still play Lemmings without the hassle of squinting at the screen, trying to discern all the tiny Lemmings from the tiny obstacles. I never found it to be an unfair challenge; the level’s scale is always the same, and, because of this closer view, everything is much larger and easier to recognize than in a standard game of Lemmings. It’s a lot more helpful than the regular flat, 2D view, in versions where the player must zoom in and out.

Granted, players may miss the 2D maps of the original Lemmings titles and, to that, I say more power to them. Lemmings Revolution may not be for everyone. It's still worth a try nonetheless.

The game looks and sounds nice. Lemmings Revolution employs a goofy, cartoony look; the outdoor environments stand out quite well. Everything is easy to recognize, which makes the game all the more accessible. On another positive note, I’ve always found the music in the Lemmings games - from the original tunes to the classical music in the older games - to always fit the bill, and Lemmings Revolution is no exception.

With several dozen levels, Lemmings Revolution is sure to not disappoint players looking for their Lemmings fix. More direct and straightforward than Lemmings 3D, and more having to do with the actual Lemmings gameplay than the Adventures of Lomax or (moan) Lemmings Paintball, Lemmings Revolution holds its own quite well.

Rating:   3.5 - Good

Product Release: Lemmings Revolution (US, 04/30/00)

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