Game: Lemmings for Mega Drive

finished playing on: 26 May

I’m including a quick note of praise about this port of Lemmings because it’s almost like a new game in its own right. Basically, the Mega Drive (or OK, Genesis, but Sega Mega Drive always had a ring to it in my opinion – but then I guess I’m being obtuse, because it’s always referred to as the Genesis version in the online Lemmings community) had some kind of memory limitation which meant that the maximum width of a level was just over two screens, rather than the ten or so that you could have on the original game. The developers took the levels that couldn’t be adapted down to 2 screens or stripped of extraneous sections and replaced them with brand new ones – 40 in total of the original levels were replaced, I believe. And then they rolled with it, creating 60 brand new levels, including some of the most difficult levels I’ve seen in an official release.

“Just how difficult could they be?” you ask… well, there’s this one, the second-last level in the second-last rating, called “Private Room Available”. Basically, you have to dig one lemming into every single one of the little boxes, and then down the exact centre of the box through the little spike, so that he doesn’t splat. But you also have to not let any other lemmings join him in the box, and if you don’t get him in the exact centre of the box when digging out, it’s possible to accidentally dig through the wall of an adjacent cell and have the adjacent lemming splat. It’s a bitch of a level, essentially, and it was the level that made me ragequit when I first tried the game several years ago. I think I only managed it this time because I worked out how to use savestates on my emulator.

It still makes me shudder when I see it – I think this is partly because it’s still fairly fresh for me; while I do find some levels of original Lemmings hard (Triple Trouble, Steel Mines of Kessel) and indeed shudder-worthy, and I still find ONML quite a challenge, I’ve been playing this game now for what, 16 years? I’m rather desensitised to them now – not so with these levels. I’m not much of a fan of this style of level, where it’s easy to work out what the solution is supposed to be but difficult to pull it off. And it’s always bloody diggers, isn’t it? As if “We all fall down” wasn’t enough.

But anyway, well made port, all things considered, and there are some real gems to be found in the level sets. The final level of the game is a particularly good head-scratcher, for instance.

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