There are some games that you just know are going to make an appearance on new hardware at some point in time. Titles like Bomberman and Puzzle Bobble haven't changed much through the years but people still buy the games, so every few years an updated version of the game comes out. Back in the 90s, Lemmings was one such title (and appeared in position #72 in the Greatest 100 Games poll we did last year), appearing for numerous platforms including the SNES, PSone, Game Boy Color and the Genesis. However, the concept was pushed a little too far and, when the Lemmings titles tried to make the transition to 3D, failed miserably. After a brief hiatus, the lovable green creatures are back in their traditional 2D habitat and making their PSP debut, but are the lemmings still addictive, or is it time we just let them fall off a cliff without an umbrella?
Older gamers will be familiar with how Lemmings works but if you're new to gaming then you may not know what the fuss is about. Essentially, Lemmings is a puzzle and strategy game. At the beginning of each level, a crowd of one hundred Lemmings leap out of a start door and march blindly towards the end of said level. Unfortunately there are some obstacles blocking the Lemmings from reaching the end. For example, one of the first levels has a cliff and you need to use one of the tools to guide the Lemmings down the cliff; in this instance, giving each of the Lemmings umbrellas will ensure they don't plummet to their death, instead floating gently down to the ground below, where they land safely. This simple concept that was so addictive fifteen years ago is just as addictive now.
The PSP version isn't just a direct port, however. All one hundred and twenty of the original stages have made it into the game, as well as a bonus thirty six never before seen brain twisters. Taking advantage of the PSP's capabilities the game also supports downloadable content which should mean we see some more puzzles released shortly. However, if you don't want to wait, then a level editor has been included in the game as well, so it's possible to create your own puzzles. Content-wise, it really is the ultimate Lemmings package.
The game plays out exactly how it always has, which is both an advantage and a disadvantage. The game is really only hindered by the restrictions of the PSP. See, Lemmings has always been easier to control with a mouse, and the D-pad just isn't quite as good. The controls don't take much getting used too though and are easy to pick up. The D-pad is used to control the Lemmings cursor, the L and R buttons switch abilities, X activates the abilities, triangle zooms in and square locks on to a lemming. It's now also possible to fast forward with the circle button, and even though this is only a basic addition it definitely speeds up the ends of the level when you're waiting for your Lemmings to escape alive.
Graphically the game hasn't been hugely upgraded but looks very cartoony, and is reminiscent of the Worms series. It's now possible to zoom in on each of your lemmings in greater detail, which definitely makes it easier to single out individuals. The basic look of the game is a benefit to the game as it means the frame-rate stays at a steady pace and the loading is kept to a minimum. The PSP's wide screen means you can now see more of the playing field as well.
The sound in the game has actually been upgraded which is a surprise, but it is based on the sound from other Lemmings titles. The sound in the previous games was arguably better than the music that has been included here, but this will come down to personal preference. However, it's all very quiet, so it isn't as prominent and dramatic as it used too be. Only major Lemmings fans are likely to be disappointed that the sound has been changed though, and all the familiar sounds from when the Lemmings die through to when they reach the exit are in tact.
Each of the puzzles in the game are at least a few minutes long and there are over 150 puzzles in total to complete, meaning the game takes a deceptively long time to finish. The downloadable content (we're not sure how many new levels this will add) should also mean that you'll be be returning to try the different levels. It would be good if Sony included themed levels as well, such as a Daxter level. The level editor is very addictive and intuitive, so creating your own levels is extremely simple.
The reason that certain games keep appearing with only minimal updates is because they are generally good titles and once again this is true with Lemmings for the PSP. The game isn't hugely upgraded and only features a few extra additions such as the level editor, downloadable content and brain twisting puzzles, but this is enough as the core gameplay of Lemmings hasn't really changed and yet the game is still a lot of fun.
We weren't that sure if the game could make the transition to the PSP unscathed after all of this time, but thankfully it has. However, it does seem like the developer was a little overly cautious in developing the title, and it would have benefited the game if they'd included a few optional gameplay extras. But then, maybe this is being kept for the next inevitable game in the Lemmings franchise. If you're a fan of the Lemmings series then this is without a doubt one of the best versions of the game yet.