Lemmings is a popular series from the nineties that has had several versions of the game released on many different platforms. The latest entry, Lemmings Touch is out now for the PlayStation Vita. If you’ve played a Lemmings game before then you’ll have a fair idea of what to expect but there are new additions here to keep returning fans interested.
The aim is to guide a set number of lemmings (which look nothing like actual lemmings by the way) from their starting point in a level to the exit within a time limit. Each level lets you take a look at the landscape and then you release the lemmings into the world at whatever speed you want, they can rapidly fall together or slowly come out giving you more time to choose your actions. The lemmings travel in one direction, only turning around if a wall blocks their path. They will faithfully walk off the edge of a cliff to their doom if you ignore them. In each of the one hundred levels you have a set number of instructions you can give to a lemming to help them to safety. This includes building steps, climbing walls or digging through the level.
A new addition to the game are red, mischievous lemmings. If any of these make their way to the exit its game over so you will have to actively exterminate these ones to win. As the title suggests, the Vita’s touch controls are a central feature to the game too. Tapping a lemming will bring up a menu for you to pick an instruction to give them. You can slide this menu around the screen in case it is obstructing your view and you can zoom in and out of the level by pinching the screen. Swiping around the screen lets you look around too but I found using the analog controls easier for this. To begin with I found the touch controls irritating, I would try to touch a lemming but instead my finger would accidentally move the platform they were on, sending a slew of them to their death. The longer you play the more accustomed you will get to the controls but it never really feels that precise. There is a tutorial to guide you through these new features at the beginning and then you will gradually unlock more difficult levels, all decorated in different themes like ancient Egypt and outer space. A nice touch is if you move the Vita in your hands, the backgrounds to these levels will shake too.
A pointless feature is the self destruct button, if you find the level isn’t going your way, you tap it twice and an alarm starts to sound for several seconds before all the lemmings are blown up and its game over. This seems unnecessary since you can pause the screen and hit quit or retry but I guess its there if you just feel like blowing up all the lemmings. I also noticed that if I started the self destruct alarm but then paused the game to retry the level, the alarm would continue to sound in the background while I played the new level until I completed it.
There are no multiplayer or level editor features in this game as there have been in previous entries but you can still share your progress with friends. After completing a level it gives you the option of sharing it on Facebook or Twitter. The lemmings themselves can now be customised with different clothes, hair colours and accessories. You are even awarded trophies for dressing them certain ways. The clothes are purchased in the game shop with coins earned by completing extra objectives which can be anything from having a lemming build a stairs over the exit to making one float in any level for four seconds.
Lemmings Touch isn’t the most impressive entry in the series to welcome newcomers with since the touch controls aren’t as accurate and the multiplayer and level editing features are missing. I feel this was a missed opportunity, being able to create and share levels with other players online seems like it would have been a great addition. Even so there are still enough new features to keep fans happy here and the short levels are well suited for portable playthroughs. It is always good to see a new Lemmings game on a new platform.