Lemmings is celebrating its 15th anniversary, returning to the gaming scene on May 23rd, marking its first appearance on the PSP. The game, simply titled
will feature improved visuals, remixed music, and more than 150 levels, twenty of which were designed specifically for the PSP. Younger gamers may take a look at Lemming and immediately dismiss it because of their simple 2D graphics. To dismiss the cute little guys would be a mistake, because behind the game's simple appearance lies some truly fun and engaging gameplay.
I was recently able to spend some time with an unfinished version of the game, and I'm happy to report that it's looking and playing great. As has always been the case, the action is 2D and is viewed from the side, with the analog stick moving the camera around the level. Your goal is to guide your little lemmings from the start to the finish while keeping as many of them alive as possible. By default, they all walk in a straight line, following the landscape, until they bump into an obstacle (pits, columns, drops), in which case they turn around.
Each level features different obstacles and puzzles, requiring you to assign different duties to the lemmings to get them to the goal. Using the d-pad, you can target a lemming, scroll through available jobs with the shoulder buttons, and assign the task with X. Your lemming can climb, dig, tunnel, explode, block others, use an umbrella to break a fall, and several other things. Only a handful of levels were available in the demo I played, but the game does a nice job of getting you accustomed to controlling the lemmings before placing in more involved scenarios, where you'll have guys climbing and gliding while other lemmings dig or build bridges. When you've got a level "solved" and you're simply waiting for all the lemmings to get to the end, you can fast forward the game, which works great if you're playing on the road and have limited time.
One of the game's coolest features is the level editor, which will not only let you create your own levels, but will let you go online to share your creations and download others' masterpieces as well. Gamesharing mode is supported, and will allow you to send sample levels to your friends.
Lemmings fans that are dying to play the game on the PSP won't be disappointed – the game looks and feels great. If you're unfamiliar with the game, but you enjoyed Exit or some of the older (not the new crappy 3D) Worms titles, you're sure to enjoy the simple yet engaging gameplay that Lemmings has to offer. Sure, Lemmings isn't going to break any new ground, and it doesn't push the capabilities of the PSP, but it's fun, and that's what counts.