Developer: SAD PUPPY
Size: 383 MB
Platform: iPhone & iPad
If you were born in the mid-’90s or later, there’s a fair chance that the word ‘Lemmings’ means little to you. For the rest of us, it instantly conjures memories of one of the finest and most popular platform-puzzlers of the 16-bit era.
Original developer DMA Designs would go on to create a little game called Grand Theft Auto, but for a number of years prior it was known mainly as the company that created Lemmings.
This mobile reboot, developed by SAD PUPPY, seeks to bring a slice of that old school magic to modern gamers. Unfortunately, it only manages to do so with limited success.
Just like the original game, Lemmings is all about guiding a bunch of gormless creatures through obstacle-strewn levels. These creatures will happily throw themselves off sheer drops and walk head-first into spinning saws if left to their own devices. Thankfully, they’re very responsive to your touch-based commands, and they also have some unexpected skills.
You can instruct lemmings to dig through soft walls or floor sections, erect umbrellas to slow large falls, and construct ramps to ascend to higher levels. You can also have a lemming stand their ground and redirect their companions.
While this is all very faithful to the original concept, Lemmings on iOS has been smartly honed and condensed for mobile play. Levels here take place on a single screen, so they’re quick to complete and immediately easy to parse.
There are only 20 lemmings to keep tabs on, and the range of roles they can inhabit is pretty limited. It’s usually very clear what you need to do in any given level at a glance, though the developer makes sure to give you a couple of potential routes – largely through the provision of warping portals and optional coin-giving diversions.
The controls, too, have been smartly streamlined, so that you’re placing markers on the level elements rather than picking out individual lemmings.
It’s all good fun to start with, but the levels soon become quite repetitive. Their blocky, simplistic nature often makes them a little boring. Those aforementioned streamlining efforts might have helped with accessibility, but they also serve to curtail the game’s long term appeal.
That’s especially so with a free to play system that makes the very energy you need to assign those lemming abilities into a finite resource. Naturally, you can watch ads or pay to purchase more, but tying the game’s monetization system so directly to the core mechanics of the game feels like a step too far.
Though we enjoyed our brief time with Lemmings, there’s a game on the App Store that channels the spirit of the original way better, and even manages to apply its own interesting spin. It’s called Kiwanuka ($1/£1) and we’d heartily recommend giving it a shot if you find yourself yearning for a sprinkling of that old school Lemmings magic.
Conversely, this mobile Lemmings reboot just doesn’t quite have the ingenuity to carve out a successful path.
- Intuitive controls
- Bite-sized levels
- Gameplay gets repetitive
- Irritating free-to-play system