Review: Lemmings Touch (PSV)

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Title: Lemmings Touch
Format: PlayStation Network Download (781 MB)
Release Date: May 27, 2014
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Developer: d3t Ltd.
Original MSRP: $9.99 (US), €9.99 (EU), £7.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: E
PEGI: 3+
Lemmings Touch is exclusive to the PlayStation Vita..
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy.

DMA Design originally created Lemmings and then later changed its name to Rockstar North; yes that same company created the massively popular Grand Theft Auto series. So what happened to the little green haired Lemmings? Well after a few sequels and many ports they eventually ended up then the hands of Sony and are now gracing their portable gaming system known as the PlayStation Vita.

Gameplay:
You have one simple goal, to get as many lemmings as possible from the entrance to the exit whilst avoiding the various traps, hazards and obstacles blocking their path. To help them reach the exit you can assign skills to the mindless rodents which include building stairs, digging, blocking and even exploding. The problem is that these little creatures continuously walk, arriving at an obstacle only sends them in the opposite direction. They’ll even walk to their certain death, be it a pit of fire or a bottomless chasm.

Whilst you can control the camera movement with either stick, most actions are done via the touch screen. Pressing the left trigger pauses the game while the right fast forwards. You can zoom in or out by pinching and the Triangle button instantly quits the level. Left and right moves between the nearest selected lemming, which will come in handy quite often. To assign an action to a lemming you simply tap the rodent and a selection bubble pops up with all the available choices.

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Depending on the level, only certain actions might be available to you. For example, one early level only permits 3 stairs, 10 bombs and 4 blockers. It’s up to you to find a way to the exit using those options. Depending on your speed and the amount of lemmings you saved, you’ll be awarded up to three stars for the level. After certain star milestones the harder levels open up which do get very complex and devious. Thankfully you can pick which levels you want to do and even skip some others, until later in the game that is, when those stars become necessary to unlock the last area.

There are 100 levels spread across some very different themed worlds including Icy Caverns, Ancient Egypt or even my favorite, Fiery Hell. All of these slowly increase in difficulty. I sometimes just scrape by, completing a stage with only one star and cursing the evil level design; only to come back to it another time and see a simple path to the exit, all the while laughing at my genius mind in action. That’s what this game is all about. It always has been and hopefully always will be.

Objectives are a new feature to the Lemmings universe and add a small extra layer of depth to the game. Having a maximum of three objectives available during the game, once you accomplish one it swaps for another. Each time you are rewarded with varying amounts of money. This is spent changing the look and style of your lemmings, which is purely aesthetic but a nice addition.

When developers add new features to a very established game series, it doesn’t always work and normally causes a big problem with the loyal fans. However the new touch features and level objects, like trampolines and cannons, are almost brilliant. They integrate nicely into the world of Lemmings and are quite amusing. The implementation of Touch is perfect for this game and would now seem crazy to play it any other way. Sadly, I have had the very rare occasion of it not registering my selection which normally meant one or two lemmings dying a horrible death. But in all fairness my reactions aren’t what they used to be and timing is essential in this game, especially in later levels.

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You’ll often find yourself stuck half way through a level or realizing a much simpler and faster route to the exit. Now in this situation you could just restart the level, but where is the fun in that? A feature which remains from the very first game is the ‘Nuke’ button. This time around it’s situated in the bottom right corner of the screen. Pressing this button once starts the siren and alarm, another press within a few seconds arms a bomb on every single little lemming. Upon detonation the lemming’s body explodes into confetti and their heads pop off. I don’t know why, but it’s fun and cute at the same time.

lemming-nice-naughtyA big evil addition to the game is a new naughty lemming that cannot be allowed to reach the exit. These red haired little vixens need to be killed or put to good use as expendable lemmings. I take great pleasure in destroying these particular little creatures whenever I can. They add a surprisingly big twist to the classic game and now I feel I’m not just trying to outwit the level designers but these conniving little devils as well.

A notable lack of online play or leaderboards is a shame. Even some form of level creation would have been welcome and added a great deal of longevity to this almost bare-bones title. Hopefully Sony was testing the waters with this one and we’ll see a more fleshed out sequel.

Visuals:
At first glance you might mistake the simple, almost plain looking graphics for an early PlayStation 2 game, however you’ll soon notice some very fancy graphical effects which are quite subtle and never hinder your view of the play area or lemmings. There is also a slight movement of the background which is linked to the Vita’s built-in gyroscope, a nice little extra.

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Audio:
Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy isn’t something I’d ever thought I would write but here it is, why you may ask? Well it features in the game along with a very strange but nice mixture of music. Each complements the themed levels nicely but can be adjusted whenever you want via the pause menu.

I still remember the lemmings speech and audio effects from the older games, and thankfully it sounds just like the classics, even down to the little pop when a lemming explodes and just before asking, “Why me?” In fact all the death sound effects are good, which is nice because you’ll be hearing them a lot.

lemming-cannonOnline/Multiplayer:
This game is single player only.

Conclusion:
A classic game with some nice new features that work well with the original dynamics. Fans of the series will feel right at home with this one and anyone who like puzzles for that matter. But I still wish some online features were present apart from just posting to Twitter and Facebook. Or, more importantly, some level creation tools wouldn’t have gone amiss.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that Sony saw the sense to bring this addictive franchise back and I really enjoy this game. The great single player experience is reason enough that I’m glad I downloaded it to my Vita Memory Card, but the lack of online features and level editing means it probably won’t be a permanent fixture.

Score:
7.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Vita’s built in screen capture feature.

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