Spode: Lemmings - PC

If this game hadn't been any of our favourites, without a doubt it would have been in an all time top games list, because it was a gem of a game and opened up an entirely new genre.

When I first got this game, I still didn't have a mouse and I remember using QAOP to control my little arrow. I'd have sooner used the arrow keys, but I don't recall there being an option to change the keys – something unimaginable today. I really struggled with the keyboard and remember returning to this game at a later date, when we bought a mouse for using Deluxe Paint.

Taking a look above, you can see a painstakingly constructed 2D world of pixels. As that is the first level, it's quite basic, but as you progress, each level can be quite lengthy and you often end up scrolling through three or four screens worth of 2D wondrousness.

The basic idea of the game is to get as many lemmings from the start to the exit as possible. I'm sure we're all aware of the myth that lemmings go charging towards cliffs in a suicidal manner. In this game however, it's true. They only go one way – forward. If they hit a wall, they will turn round. If they hit an edge, they will fall.

You can assign each lemming a skill – for example brick laying, parachuting, digging or climbing. Some of these are permanent, while others last for a small duration and they will return to normal lemming status straight afterwards.

By using these skilled lemmings, you can work your way along the map, avoiding drops, traps, flames, knives and nooses, just to name a few.

Doing so, was amazingly good fun. Trying to get the allotted number of lemmings in can sometimes be nigh on impossible, or other times you just run up against a time limit first. Whatever happens, you'll never have enough bashers! There is always more than one way to overcome a level, so there is an opportunity for some real lateral thinking.

With their cute fluffy hair, blue overalls and cries of “Oh No!”, Lemmings were instantly loveable characters that you couldn't help but want to save. But what really made the game for me, was the music. Classic tunes played in a tinny MIDI, that you would now have a high chance of finding built in to your mobile phone. It really helped the time go by and suddenly repeating the level ten times wasn't so much of an issue. Cheesy and eventually irritating - but hey, I'm a Supertramp fan.

There was obviously a certain number of graphical motifs, but each level was unique and it's amazing to see what they actually achieved with so few pixels – plus it was even more fun to bash and dig your way straight through them.

If this is bringing back memories, or you fancy giving this a go, some kind soul has converted the whole game to an online DHTML version and it's very true to the original. He's also added in a fast forward button – something the original didn't have, but needed.

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