Lemmings 2

Title           Lemmings 2
Game Type       Puzzle
Players         1
Compatibility   All
Submission      Joona Palaste (palaste@cc.helsinki.fi) Profiled Reviewer

Lemmings 2 is the famous sequel to the even more famous game Lemmings. It
spent over two years in development, going through many changes. The
finished product appeared in 1993, creating a whole new dimension of
Lemming entertainment.

  For those who have been living on Dseta Persei VIII for the past decade,
trying to teach English, German or French to the locals whose vocal cords
can only handle Hungarian, and trying to distil something both
non-poisonous and nourishing from the various colourful wildvines that
grow all over the planet, here's a short recap of what the original
Lemmings was like. The game focused on little cute creatures called
Lemmings. These creatures had a certain amount of free will for
themselves, unlike player characters in 1980's games, but were so stupid
that they just walked forwards all the time. You had to give them various
"abilities" (like digging, building, climbing and so on) with your mouse.
With these "abilities" you had to indirectly steer all the Lemmings to the
exit on the level, to complete it. The game had 140 levels ranging from
ridiculously easy to frustratingly tricky, and good graphics and sound.
  Some people say it is impossible to review a sequel without comparing it
to the original in some place. Keeping that in mind, I'm not even going to
try to avoid it. So, then, what is Lemmings 2 like? The basic idea remains
the same. You've got hundreds of little cute Lemmings, which tumble along
on the screen expecting you to guide them to safety. However, there are
two major improvements.

  The first improvement is that although there are now only 120 levels
(Lemmings 2 has no two-player levels, unlike the original), they are no
longer all in one big sequence. Instead they are divided into 12 tribes
(hence the full title "Lemmings 2: The Tribes"). The tribes are modelled
after old stereotypes of different groups of people, all done in typical
good-natured Lemmings humour. There's a classic tribe (which is basically
the creatures from the original game), a mediŠval tribe, a Scottish tribe,
a spacefaring tribe, and other as weird and wonderful tribes. Each of
these tribes has 10 levels in a sequence. You can freely choose what tribe
you're going to play, switching tribes along the way should you get stuck
or bored. When you finish all the 10 levels in all the 12 tribes, you've
completed the game.
  The second improvement is the greatly increased number of "abilities".
In the original game there were 8 "abilities". Lemmings 2 offers over 60!
All the original ones are present, and there are many new ones, some of
which are quite weird (like fencing, kayaking, throwing grenades or
becoming the Superlemming). No single level has nearly all of these
"abilities" on offer, though. Most have 6 or 7 of them, some as few as 2
or 3. You also get to practise 8 "abilities" of your choice on any of the
game's four practice levels, which are full of features but devoid of any
  Visually and aurally the game is superb, but in my opinion it doesn't
quite reach the level of the original game. The graphics are cartoonly
realistic and colourful, the music tunes have enough melody and beat to
make you whistle them to yourself on bus trips. However, the overall style
has had a major change, in my opinion slighty for the worse. In the
original Lemmings, the overall design was "fantasy". Graphic styles were
based on granite bricks, fertile ground, metal blocks, and my personal
perennial favourite, crystals. In Lemmings 2 the overall design is
"cartoon". Some of the tribes look and sound pleasing, like the classic
(duh), the space tribe, and the mediŠval tribe. Others, like the circus
and beach tribes, are more boring.
  That is not to say Lemmings 2 is at all bad. The game is nicely done and
has plenty of humour. When you open the box, you may be surprised to find
that the actual game manual is extremely thin and next to useless.
However, it is accompanied with a book telling the plot of the game, and
this story is brilliant comedy. I highly recommend reading it. One thing
that has been well carried over from the original game is the original,
witty level names. In the original Lemmings, my personal favourite was
"I've lost that Lemming feeling". In Lemmings 2 my favourite is "22934",
found in the outdoor tribe. I've still not managed to find out what it
might mean.

  Now you're all simply dying to hear whether Lemmings 2 is better or
worse than the original. I would venture to say both. It's better because
the game structure is more interestingly organised, and the main gameplay
issue - giving the Lemmings "abilities" - has been expanded. Also, the
game now comes on standard AmigaDOS disks, and is HD-installable with a
patch on AmiNet, which makes it more compatible with recent machines.
However, some aspects of the game are actually worse than the original. My
main gripe is the absence of two- player levels. Even though I never
played them against another human in the original game, they were a
brilliant idea. In Lemmings 2, they are gone, and in their place are 4
practice levels, which you get bored of in less than a minute. These
practice levels are utterly needless, and given the choice, I would gladly
sacrifice them in favour of the two-player levels.

  All things considered, Lemmings 2 is every bit as classic as the
original Lemmings was. Had Commodore taken these lovable critters as their
mascots, they certainly would have stayed in business at least a year
longer. If you like puzzle games, you have to buy Lemmings 2. If you
already own it, go and play it! A brilliant idea, nicely executed.

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