Game: Holiday Lemmings (1994)

aka: Christmas Lemmings
developers: DMA Design
played on: 30/3

I won’t bore you too much with this review. As I mentioned already on the blog, I’m now going around collecting all the Lemmings games that I haven’t yet played, and Holiday Lemmings is right up on the list.

It’s basically another expansion pack (along with Oh No! More Lemmings) to the original game, with exactly the same gameplay, but in a cutesy Xmas graphic style. Except that the Xmas graphics are almost exactly the same as the snow graphics from ONML, but with christmas lights and open fireplaces instead of water and deadly traps.

Let me be quite frank about this game: it’s nowhere near as good as Original Lemmings or ONML. I completed it in an evening, after all, although that’s partly because it’s shorter at 64 levels instead of 100 or 120. But the levels, at that, aren’t of as good quality. For one thing, they’re all in the same graphic style, and are therefore monotonous, but more importantly they’re just all outstripped majorly by the harder levels from the original games, especially ONML, which gets incredibly hard towards the end. That said, maybe I’m biased because I’d just played through the second half of ONML.

I’m quite glad that I played it on the Mac version, though, because it’s the only one to have a speed-up function. I found out recently that this feature was introduced on the Mac version and none of the other ports before it has the function. I can’t imagine playing through some of the more lengthy levels on the PC version; I think I’d die of boredom.

Basically there’s a lot of building in this game compared to the previous ones, I found. Not all the levels are bad, granted, but there were more than enough times when I reached a level whose only challenge was having to build multiple long bridges to make me get angry when I reached them. I would have liked more simple puzzles – I think my favourite level was one called “Steel Block Party” which fitted on one screen.

Oh, and the other thing is that the 1994 version of the game includes all the levels from the 1993 version as well (32 levels from each), but they come after the 1994 levels, so the end effect is a set of levels which peaks in the middle and suddenly goes back to being really easy again. This was very annoying.

The other thing that I’m not sure whether to like was the music, which was just the ONML tracks. You see, there was a 1991 and 1992 version of Xmas Lemmings too, which were 4 level demos – I’ve played these, and the Christmas music becomes quickly jarring and annoying, and that’s when you’re not playing it over and over. I think I went over this with Lemmings 2, where I turned off the music on the Polar tribe because I became sick of Rudolph and Frosty very quickly. So I think this was probably a good move. Except that it just detracts from the tone.

Also, I remember seeing somewhere that they took out traps from the game because it’s Christmas and they wanted to be nice at Christmas and not kill any lemmings. This is a lame excuse for what’s probably a memory saving device, and a lame memory saving device because it leads to monotonous levels without traps, where the only hazard in the environment is falling off the bottom of the screen. And since many of the levels seemed to have been hacked together at short notice, relatively few of them had been given a proper decking out with the Christmas lights, making most of them look very bland.

So anyway, I’m glad I played it, but I much prefer the originals.

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