From DMA Design, who went on to create the Grand Theft Auto games (with a name change to Rockstar North), we today hark back to its Lemmings series. It ran from 1991-1994 and we remember it most fondly from a totally rad SNES outing in 1992. Let’s reminisce!
It may be obscure now, but back in the early 1990s this series was a big hit – it sold some 20 million copies across systems such as the Amiga, Commodore 64, MS-DOS, Atari ST, and Amstrad CPC.
We first came across it, if we remember correctly, on a PC version. And having really liked the cutesy puzzle-platformer we (as in our parents) got the SNES version.
There’s a popular myth going around the rodents are sporadically suicidal to maintain overpopulation issues. As it turns out, that’s total nonsense. But DMA Design played on the concept to deliver a title the likes of Worms and World of Goo took inspiration from.
The idea is simple enough. Across various stages, you must guide anthropomorphised lemmings towards an exit.
Along the way, you deploy various skills on certain lemmings to ensure they don’t meet their respective dooms in a variety of bone-crunching ways.
Actions include blocking, parachuting, digging, and building. For the latter, as an example, you can traverse large gaps by getting a lemming to build a bridge.
With their floppy green here and mindless walking action, they may be total buffoons but DMA Design did create enough personality for you to love the stupid little buggers.
As such, you do feel guilty whenever one of your party plunges to their death. And sometimes you have to sacrifice a lemming to complete a stage, which can be pretty heartbreaking.
But then you get the sadistic players happy to let their party die in an assortment of horrible ways.
The series initially ran until 2000, when Lemmings Revolution failed to adapt itself into a good game for an industry experience a colossal influx of technological change.
But as we did mention above, Lemmings certainly inspired real-time strategy games – its influence lives on through them.
Wanting to try out a reboot of sorts, in 2010 nostalgia fans were probably happy to see it make a return to iOS.
Although we’ve not played it, the title seems faster than the original game to appease modern gamer sensibilities.
But it doesn’t seem to have taken the world by storm. Perhaps it’s time, nine years on from its release, to consign Lemmings to gaming history – an interesting coda to early 1990s gaming that proved to be a surprise hit.