Written by: Stoo

Date posted: January 4, 2001

The medieval lemmings theme is one of my favourite pieces of old midi music.

This was the first (of many) sequels to an immensely popular game that came out on every format known to mankind. I’m sure most of you know the basic formula behind this series. In short: Lemmings pour out of an entrance and meander around the the level. To get the mindless little critters past various dangers and into the exit, you must therefore assign certain skills to some of them. Each skill can only be used a few times, so you must carefully plan your lemming-saving operation, and then execute it with well-timed precision, in order to get as many home alive as possible.

One big change from the previous game is that in L2 there are 12 tribes, each working through a series of levels with a theme relevant to that tribe. So the medieval lemmings wander through castles, Polar lemmings have fun in an snowy setting with Christmas tunes in the background and Highland Lemmings are in a world of, wait for it, Tartan. For nostalgic gamers there’s even a Classic tribe, in a land reproducing the distinctive style of the original game.

The other change is that there are now far more skills to hand out to your lemmings. For example there’s several variations on the digger and builder. There’s also more than a few entirely new skills, such as taking out chunks of earth with a bazooka, pole vaulting and charming and immobilising
surrounding lemmings with a musician. To add further variation the cursor can be turned into a fan. allowing you to direct the course of spinners (who tunnel) or a few types of airborne lem. Not every skill is available in each level, instead there is a selection of up to 8. (Classic lems are always given the original skills). Oh, and of course, if everything’s gone horribly wrong then you can hit the “nuke” button and try again

Watch out for traps!

Anyhow, despite these additions, the core gameplay remains largely unchanged. Working out a solution for each level is still a tricky procedure, with one idea after another failing with the little guys gleefully strolling off a cliff, or stepping under a trap. As well as mental agility, split-second timing along with pixel-perfect precision in your clicking is often required. The old problem of selecting a lemming facing in the right direction, when about forty of them are packed into a tight space, remains as well. In other words, L2 retains both the head-bashing-against-desk frustration of the original, and the elation when your plans finally work.

The only real difference here is in your final objectives. Whereas in the first game your success in one level had no bearing on the next, provided that you passed it, you now have only 60 lemmings in each tribe to last you through the whole of that tribe’s series of levels (but no individual level targets). So, to a large extent the difficulty depends on how much of a perfectionist you are.

A special mention should also be made be made for the music. Like the original, L2 compensates for using limited hardware with some fantastic little tunes. A couple of classics from Lemmings are present, along with all-new themes for each new tribe which are sometimes based on fairly predictable ideas, but always incredibly catchy

So to sum up, L2 was in truth one of those “more of the same” sequels, although with enough new material to justify its existence in my mind. As for the graphics, there’s much new artwork although technically no improvement and the lems themselves are still tiny little sprites. Still, L2 remains quite addictive, even to this day. Trying not to go all-misty eyed and nostalgic, it maybe isn’t the kind of thing you’ll play for vast amounts of time these days. However, you can still waste the occasional enjoyable hour on it, which is more than can be said for some of the latest 3D-o-vision titles. Lemmings 2 was arguably the best of the series, sticking to the successful formula of the first game and sadly the later sequels just never recaptured that original appeal.