We are not responsible for the loss of sanity, hair or sleep.

I have been waiting for this day to come. Not because I love Lemmings, no - because I can't stand Lemmings. But to be fair to the game, I don't actually know where this loathing for it comes from.

My memory tells me that I first played it way back when, at school, on a bunch of Acorn computers. I'm kinda gutted I don't know of the exact model because that'd be an interesting thing to look up for the nostalgia - far more interesting than looking up Lemmings. Ugh, no, c'mon, let's find some sort of impartiality here.

I first played Lemmings at school, probably as a reward for successfully guiding that turtle into all manner of different shapes. Goddamn, what was that turtle called? I gotta look that up.


Let's get Lemmings out of the way first.

Open the trapdoor.


Lemmings is eeeeverywhere in video gaming. There's probably a port of it for calculators by now, it's that widespread across home consoles, portable devices and nearly three decades of technological advancements. It persists because it is so easy to teach and let players loose in. Isn't that frustrating?

It's a game that can be deceptively simple. Lemmings are capable of performing eight different tasks, from blocking to mining, climbing to exploding, and it is up to you to use these skills to safely navigate your horde through the level in whichever way you can. While early levels telegraph their solutions to players, an unorthodox approach can work too - there are stories of proud level designers presenting difficult levels to their colleagues, only to watch them find a solution around the hazards that the designer never saw.

Solutions to a puzzle might escape you until something just clicks in your head and suddenly you know exactly what you need to do, but now you're faffing around with tens of Lemmings getting in your way, resulting in you clicking on the wrong one and setting into motion a chain of events that puts you further from your goal of getting a set percentage of Lemmings home.

When things get hectic, precision can be a problem. Even when things are calm it can be problematic, though - start a builder too early and he accomplishes nothing. Put a blocker in the wrong place and he'll have to go explosively suicidal to get out of the way.

Fun Times

Actually, that's the best bit, isn't it? Watching Lemmings explode, or fall to a splat after you 'forget' to equip them with an umbrella to slow their deadly descent. At any point, you can hurry things along by setting a self-destruct timer on all the Lemmings left in play, resulting in their best impression of confetti. Satisfying.

Always like this level. Genuinely forgot the solution to it this time...

There is variety to be had across all the levels, with some spitting out Lemmings faster than you might be able to think, others requiring all of your Lemmings to make it to the goal, and others limiting the amount or type of skills you are allowed to use.

With so many variables, the number of levels there are might as well stretch towards infinity, but a good hundred or so are plenty, and designing your own is... well, is it possible? I don't remember it. Guess I should close this tab for the Logo Turtle and have a read...

Final Word

I don't know why I don't like Lemmings. There's nothing wrong with it. It's fine. It's better than fine. It's not mindblowing, but it's fun, engaging, puzzling... it's a bloody classic video game, is what it is, and you've probably already played it enough to know that.

Maybe I'd like it more with a different look, but then the entire game pretty much sprang forth from an early animation test, so the look is a huge chunk of the appeal and success of Lemmings.

Perhaps I'm just a right grump. Or maybe I've some repressed memories of my time with it at school. Either way, Lemmings will only be begrudgingly recommended by me.

Go play it.



I've taken the fun off for this fact - and being the Internet, take 'fact' with a grain of salt.

A 78-year old man suffered a fatal heart attack when, descending the stairs into the cellar of the furniture store he owned for twenty years, he saw hundreds of cardboard cutouts of Lemmings, 5 foot tall and staring at him from the darkness. Nobody knew how they got there and the developers can't even remember them getting made in the first place. Maybe that's why I dislike Lemmings...

Lemmings, developed by DMA Design, first released in 1991.
Version played: DOS, 1991, via emulation.
Amiga/Acorn, 1991, via childhood memory.