Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Games: The Making of a Game That Kept Me Up Nights

Long before cheat codes and walkthroughs there were video games that you could spend a long time playing and figuring out. One that kept me up for hours on end was DMA Design's Lemmings.

If you want a taste of the original Amiga version of the game there are online videos available. The game had a simple premise. Lemmings fell from a trap door onto the field of play and then walked directly and unflinchingly to their impending doom. Instead of walking to a door to freedom they would simply walk in one direction until they hit a wall. When they hit the wall they'd turn around and keep walking. On some levels they would just be stuck walking back and forth between two walls. In others they'd walk into traps or fall into water or lava.

You had to give some lemmings commands and others abilities in order to save as many lemmings as possible. Each level had a time limit and a certain number of all the lemmings that you had to save. Save to few or take too long and it was all over.

The puzzles started simple but soon became very difficult. Fiendishly so. I'd often look up after finally solving a level to see the sun rising and a new day starting. It also helped that the sound effects were cute Even making lemmings blow up when required was cute. I still love the "oh no!" just before a lemming would blow up into a bunch of pixels. However the sound effects were one thing. The music was another completely. It was wonderfully additive.

How addictive? Well... people are still performing the music today. On piano, keyboard, piano, guitar, and even electric guitar. Myself I prefer mp3'd version of the original Amiga mod files (ftp of the mod soundtrack and ftp of the mod extras) or rips of the CD versions of the tunes from The Lemmings Chronicles. Both of which are on my iPod and other music players.

For more history of the actual game I suggest Mike Dailly's The Complete History of Lemmings which is part of his The Complete History of DMA Design. There you will find the backstory to one of the games that kept me up at night.

Oh... and don't think you're safe because the Amiga is no more. Lemmings has been ported to quite a few computers and consoles with more versions to come in the future. Sooner or later you might find yourself trying over and over to save those little lemmings from destruction.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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