We’ve been promising it for months and at last, it's finally here - Lemmings 2, the game the cynics said couldn't possibly be bettered. How could Psygnosis improve on the immediate playability of the original Lemmings, the great humour, the enjoyable graphics and pixel- perfect animation? You might think you need convincing, but as soon as you load up the game and realise that every step towards completing a level counts towards a final goal and that you can proceed toward: that goal from 12 different worlds employing over 50 different skills of lemming the possibilities look very enticing. And once you've been enticed you're going to find it very difficult to leave the land of the lemming. Small, stupid, but very cute Lemmings, as we know, are very stupid small rodents who live in Norway and rush headlong into the sea and drown when they're supposed to be migrating. So it wouldn't be surprising if you didn't have much sympathy for these creatures, but the lemmings who have had to learn to survive in the differing landscapes of Lemming Island have developed so many complex skills that it's hard not to feel a degree of compassion for them. The main problem they seem to have though is that they simply haven't learned how to work in teams and help each other out and that's up to you.
The basic aim of each of the 120 levels is the same as in the original Lemmings; they drop through a trap door and you have to guide as many of them as you can to the exit - usually a door or a building - within a usually generous time limit. This time though, you only get 6Q of them and you have to get as many as you can through the level because only that number survive into the next level.
This time there's also a plot to tie the whose thing together and give you an overall aim. so here goes, at the risk of sounding like a manual… There are 12 tribes of lemming, each of which lives on a different part of Lemming Island. Every tribe has a piece of the talisman - so you've got to get at least one member of each tribe through to the final level to join up with the other 11 pieces. When the complete talisman is created the tribes may then escape. Depending how many lemmings you rescue at each level you get a different type of talisman . piece lots of lemmings rescued means you get a gold piece, but if you've led others to their death, however unintentionally, you only get a silver or bronze piece. The ultimate aim, obviously, is to get a gold talisman and free all the creatures - but that's likely to take you a very long time.
little local difficulties
Of the many excellent things about Lemmings 2 one of the best is that you can just get straight into the puzzle solving - you know exactly what lemmings you've got with what skills (and how many times you can use each skill) - and it's dead easy to become engrossed to the point of never wanting to leave your ST. Some of the earlier puzzles are simple to solve - you only need to do a couple of things to lead the lemms to the next bit of the world but some of them seem virtually impossible - like the first sports level, for example where you are blessed with only a flame thrower and three bombers and find all your lemmings being chucked to their death with no apparent way to stop it happening.
Sometimes you can see what you actually want to do but have got so many lemmings in such a small space that the/re indistin- guishable from each other and you can't click on a single one that's pointing in the right direction. lf you take your chances and click on a random lemming, the chances are that he'll be facing the wrong direction and blast all the other lemms with fire, or whatever other skill you've endowed your creature with. Although this doesn't affect your fellow lemms it can be a waste of resources. The quality of your monitor also helps here - if yours is a bit dodgy they seem to merge together even more freely. Considering the size of the lemmings and their incredible detail, it's amazing that things don't get blurred together more frequently.
Enter the world of…
Each of the levels is a different size and shape; some are only a single screen, some are several screens long horizontally, some several screens vertically and others are huge in all directions. The vertically scrolling levels are hardest with huge drops you don't know whether Lemms are going to survive until you've tried their resilience.
Size doesn't necessarily determine how easy or difficult a level is, either - some of the single screens are the worst. It's best to work out what sort of area you're playing in when you start the level and where the exit is. Don't be fooled when you come across a level and get loads of each skill - although sometimes they can indicate you're going to need them all, they're frequently red herrings.
Lemmings 2 is a huge game with so many different levels, varied worlds with very strong identities and heaps of humour in the personality crammed lemmings that it's difficult to find fault with it. You're certainly never going to get bored with it - there are so many bits and pieces and ways of doing things that you can keep coming back to different areas of the game time and time again. It's accessible - everyone will want to play it, even if it's only to experience the satisfying thrill when you've puked a whole tribe of Lemms having got them into an impossible situation.
You can feel smug after each level because you've achieved something; the controls are easy to use and explanations simple. The whole thing is tightly put together and the attention to the most minute details is impressive - for example when a lemming is about to explode or when you've puked them, they start shaking their heads and bodies in a I'm-just-getting-ready-to-die-and-if-l-concentrate -on-my-body-shaking-maybe-it -won't-hurt-so-much sort of a way. And when you do nuke them the results are impressive - all the landscape is damaged bit by bit - you're left with a shell of the level.
Take Lemmings 2 on for a quick brain-testing session every day for months or you can sit down and try and sort the whole lot out in a mammoth Lemmings-rescue effort. Unless you're the programmer, however, it'll take you weeks to work through it all. Graphically, it looks brilliant - massive bright beach and outdoor worlds contrast with the dark and damp caves and the Egyptian and Classic levels add a bit of culture. The atmosphere of all the levels is enhanced by there tunes, relevant to the world you/re in. It's massive, brain- taxing, funny and visually and sonically brilliant. Even if you only buy one single game this year, this has to be it. You won't regret it.