Before the ultra-violence and moral wrongness of Grand Theft Auto, the studio that would eventually come to be known as Rockstar North had a massive hit on their hands with Lemmings. DMA Design (as they were known back then) created a strategic game like no other, introducing the world to a group of now-iconic green-haired, suicidal maniacs. Practically every console and home computer in the early 90s had a version of this game – it was everywhere.
That said, the 90s were a long time ago, and it’s entirely possible that there are people reading this who have never seen a Lemmings game, but thankfully Lemmings Touch is a very easy-to-digest version. Put simply, you must guide the furry nutcases from the entrance of a level all the way to the exit. Easier said than done, considering their predisposition for blindly walking straight ahead, only switching direction when colliding with a solid wall. The only way to interrupt their pattern is to assign them various abilities, and Lemmings Touch sticks to the tried and tested abilities from the original game, with Blockers, Bombers, Climbers, Floaters and more.
As you can no doubt imagine from the title, this edition adds a touch interface as opposed to the usual cursor-based play of the originals. While it’s a great idea and is successful for the most part, it could do with a little improvement. You can zoom in or out by pinching, and to assign an ability to a Lemming you simply touch it, which brings up a menu. This menu can be moved around manually, but it sometimes moves by its own accord, which can be incredibly irritating when trying to perform actions quickly to stop your furry charges from walking off the nearest cliff. If the icons were fixed in an area of the screen, there would be a lot less frustration.
The other big change is the occasional addition of Mischievous Lemmings. These red-hued doppelgangers sometimes pop up in certain levels, and saving them will instantly lead to failure. Trying to dispatch one of them while still trying to save your normal Lemmings adds an extra level of challenge, even if it’s not a game-changing addition.
While many of the classic Lemmings levels return, set over four difficulty levels, a casual way of playing has been provided, thanks to mobile gaming-style missions that will earn coins when achieved. These coins will earn various costume items that can be applied to your Lemmings, although they have barely any influence on the game itself, save for a few Trophies. Each level also has a 3-star ranking system, with stars being a requirement for unlocking later stages. The difficulty curve is spot on here, and if you’re stuck on a level, there are always others to tackle. At least you can still pause the game to give yourself time to think, which you’ll need as the action can get pretty frantic as you battle both the suicidal desires of your Lemmings and an ever-present clock. You’ll also need to rescue a certain number of Lemmings to succeed, and you’ll need to do it quickly for better ranks.
VERDICT: It’s almost comforting in a way, to see that the basic game hasn’t been messed around with too much, as this is a great reminder of a puzzling classic. Adding touch controls is a great way to reintroduce one of gaming’s forgotten classics to a new generation, and the added portability is a real bonus. But for fans, the familiarity may be a stumbling block, and it would have been nice to see some new abilities to play with, if only to make this more than just a re-tread.
GOOD. A game that scores 7/10 is worthy of note, but unworthy of fanfare. It does many things well, but only a few of them incredibly well and, despite a handful of good qualities, fresh ideas and solid mechanics, it fails to overwhelm.
Review code provided by publisher.