Brain-teasers are easy enough to come by. From the cross-word puzzles of varying difficulty found if you look for them to the riddles that many people(so many that they've assembled books of riddles) scramble their brain trying to solve... and yet I would have to say that Lemmings is probably the first - and fifteen years later, still about the only - of its kind. The game gives you a group of lemmings and a bunch of tools for them to use... and as the group of the animals of(at least in the game) questionable smarts walk forward until they're stopped, you have to make sure that what stops them is the exit... and not dropping to their death, walking off the screen or going head-first into one of the many traps found in the levels. The idea is strange, but it works, and quite well, at that. The screen shows the lemmings and the level from the side, and you can scroll horizontally to view the whole thing. To use a tool, you simply click on its icon(which also display the maximum possible uses of the tool) at the bottom of the screen, and then on the lemming you want to use it. That's it. Through the first bunch of levels, you'll learn what the various tools do and what they're good for, and the rest of the game has you utilizing them in order to successfully complete the many puzzles that lie ahead. In total, there are about one hundred... so you'd better get crackin'. This is good for countless hours of fun and/or head-scratching. The design is great, almost every level has detailed backgrounds and nicely drawn scenery. The traps and lemmings are well-animated... heck, even the untimely demise(in all its various forms) of these poor creatures is done in great detail(and due to the cartoon-y style, it's been completely rid of blood or gore... they explode in what can best be described as fireworks, for example). The tools all have very specific effects on the surroundings, and you must master them all if you are to have any hope of solving the entire game. I must admit I have a preference for the stair-builder... it's such a useful one for a multitude of reasons, and I've always liked the animation for it. Not every single puzzle is a new one; some return later, requiring new(more difficult) solutions to pass. In addition to mastering the tools, you'll also need a good overview, great timing and a solid head on your shoulders. There are differing thresholds of mistakes... you're not always allowed the same amount of slip-ups with the ability to complete the current puzzle on that same try(but you can of course start it over at any time you want), and all of them are timed... some give you more than enough time, others just exactly the amount that you need. Apart from the tools, the game also has a few other helpful functions... you can pause the game at any time, freezing the action and the timer, and simply take some time to think, and/or look over the current challenge, you can fast-forward(which is good when you know that what you've set in motion will finish the level, and you don't want to have to wait while all the suicidal creatures walk into the exit. The original version of the game had each completed challenge grant you the password for the next... so that you could return to exactly where in the long line of them you were, on any computer you played it on. In 1995, Psygnosis released a Windows version(also featuring Oh No! More Lemmings, which adds more than a hundred more puzzles, doubling the playing time), which seems to run fine on any Windows(up to and including XP, at least, which is what I have), and here, the passwords are discarded in favor of a user-based system, ensuring that the player does no longer need to keep a pad of paper and a pen nearby when playing in order to play on from where he got to. This version also features a selector, making you able to choose which challenge to try next, and, thankfully, a "cheat" option, allowing you to skip any that you simply can not figure out or work your way through... though it does mark it with a question mark rather than a "completed" mark, on the list, to remind you that you did not actually complete that one. The game features muzak... each challenge plays track after track of midi versions of well-known(and presumably public domain) songs, and you catch yourself humming the darn things after a playing for a while. A quirky feature, but it fits in with the rest of the game. One of the great things is that this can be played by just about anyone, regardless of age or nationality; if you can read numbers and do basic math you can play this. Understanding a little bit of English is a plus, but it's not really necessary. This is a quite simple game, and it works great as that... but at times, I must admit, I missed some more features. A function that could be switched on/off which automatically ended the challenge if you lost too many of the poor animals, instead of letting you save too few would have been nice, and zoom would often have helped, as they sometimes bunch up, and it is then difficult to give the right one the tool, or similar. Perhaps not the original game, but maybe the Windows version, since it did add other things, including several different screen resolutions... ah, then again, I suppose you shouldn't tamper with a classic. This is one of the best puzzle games ever made, and will always be remembered, seldom properly copied and never truly outdone. There are several sequels, which is something to brag about for this type of game. I recommend this to any fan of brain-teasers. 9/10
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