Lemmings (computer game)

From Academic Kids

If you are looking for the warm-blooded rodent, see Lemming.

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Screenshot of Lemmings (Amiga)

Developer(s) DMA Design
Publisher(s) Psygnosis
Release date(s) 1990
Genre Puzzle
Mode(s) Single player
Multiplayer (on some systems)
Rating(s) ESRB: Everyone (E)
Platform(s) Commodore Amiga, various

Lemmings, a 1990 Amiga computer game developed by DMA Design and published by Psygnosis, was one of the most popular computer games of its time. Several games magazines of the time awarded the game maximum review scores.

Psygnosis, traditionally known for producing games with good graphics but with poor gameplay, had its greatest success in Lemmings. Famously, the concept for Lemmings came from an animation created by Mike Dailly over a lunchtime, to prove a point about how small a character could be on screen.

The game was unique and based around concepts previously untried. The player had to guide a group of up to 100 lemmings home by telling individual lemmings to climb, explode, build, block, dig, bash, and mine. (The "lemmings" of the game — small, green-haired beings that mindlessly walk en masse into any danger in their path — are not the same as real-life lemmings, although they were named after the popular myth that real lemmings behave in a similar fashion.)

Of the numerous sequels the only one to achieve the success of the first was Lemmings 2: The Tribes, which added twelve specialist tribes of lemmings, each with their own type of level and specialist workers.

The game briefly gave rise to a new genre, described in magazines at the time as the 'save 'em up'.



The gameplay in Lemmings was radically new for its time. Rather than controlling the actions of the tribe of lemmings, the player must choose from a list of preset options. True to Newton's laws, lemmings continue to do whatever they are doing until something begins to act on them. That is, a walker will continue to walk until he is assigned an order (or dies).

The main difficulty in surmounting the puzzles of Lemmings is not solving the puzzles, but more in executing them in an efficient way. Some levels are easy to see and plan but when actually attempted become more formidable than first expected.

There are 8 orders to give to lemmings:

  • Climber: For the remainder of the level, the lemming will climb up walls it encounters.
  • Floater: For the remainder of the level, the lemming will parachute down falls (without splatting).
  • Bomber: After five seconds, the lemming will explode and carve a small chunk from the surrounding terrain.
  • Blocker: The lemming will hold his position and act as a wall until the ground is bashed, mined, dug or bombed from underneath it or for the remainder of the level.
  • Builder: The lemming will build a 12-step-long bridge upwards and sideways.
  • Basher: The lemming will dig horizontally through the wall he is touching.
  • Miner: The lemming will dig diagonally down through the floor he is on.
  • Digger: The lemming will dig directly down through the floor he is on.

There is also "nuking", a further "genocide" order which allows the player to rapidly set all the lemmings to "bomber". This order can be used to restart the level if the player realises failure is imminent, or to bring the level quickly to a close if enough lemmings have already been saved.

A lemming who has been set as both a "climber" and a "floater" is referred to as an Athlete.

Lemmings are very delicate creatures and will die when any of the following occur:

  • Fall down from too great a height.
  • Fall off the map.
  • Walk into water, lava, or goo.
  • Step into a trap, such as a spring-loaded trap, compressor, etc.
  • Ordered to explode.

Each level has a certain quota to be achieved in terms of lemming percentage. If the player can save the required number of lemmings, he wins and moves on to the next level.

The original Amiga Lemmings also had 20 two-player levels. This took advantage of the Amiga's ability to handle two mice simultaneously. Each player would be presented with their own view of the map (vertical split screen), could only control their own lemmings (green or blue), and had their own base. The goal was to save more lemmings (colour irrelevant) than the other player. Gameplay would cycle through the 20 levels until neither player got any lemmings home.


The popularity of the game on the Amiga led to its rapid porting to other platforms, and is considered to be the most widely-ported video game of all time. Known ports include: 3DO, Acorn Archimedes, Amstrad CPC, Arcade (prototype only), Atari Lynx, Atari ST, Commodore 64, Commodore Amiga CD32, Commodore CDTV, DOS, Hewlett-Packard HP-48 series, Macintosh, Mobile phone, Nintendo Famicom (NES), Nintendo Game Boy, TI-83 plus, Nintendo Game Boy Color, Nintendo Super Famicom (SNES), OS/2, Palm, Philips CD-I, SAM Coup, Sega Game Gear, Sega Master System, Sega Megadrive (Genesis), Sinclair Spectrum, Sony PlayStation, Sony PlayStation Portable, Windows, and DHTML.

Two-player levels were ported only to some of the other systems, including the Super NES, the Sega Genesis and the Atari ST.



In the original Lemmings title, each difficulty level (Fun, Tricky, Taxing, and Mayhem) had one level with its own unique graphics and music. Each of these levels borrowed the graphics and music from another Psygnosis title. The levels are:

The unique levels were removed from later versions (Lemmings for Windows, Lemmings for Game Boy Color, and the Lemmings which came with Lemmings Paintball).

In the expansion/sequel Oh No! More Lemmings, many of the level titles were allusions to pop culture.

Similar games

  • Pingus is an open-source game inspired by Lemmings.
  • Mormels is a freeware game inspired by Lemmings.
  • Pikmin is a Nintendo game some people claim to be similar to Lemmings.
  • Lamers is a PC game written by hackers and circulated around the BBS scene in 1992. The objective is to kill the "lamers" who look and behave like lemmings.
  • Worms is a game created by Team 17 which is directly inspired by Lemmings.

External links

  • Lemmings Universe (http://lemmings.dreamhosters.com/) - Lemmings Info and Discussion
  • Garjen Lemmings Website (http://www.garjen.co.uk/Lemmings.php)
  • DHTML Lemmings ( - Lemmings game written in javascript
  • Lem32 (http://www.wolftv.de/lemmings/lem32.html) - 5 level Lemming game writtien in Java.de:Lemmings

es:The Lemmings fr:Lemmings nl:Lemmings (computerspel) ko:레밍즈


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