Oi! You! Yes - you there with the big nose

Lemmings 2: The Tribes logo Gamer Gold

PSYGNOSIS * £29.99 * 1/2 meg * Mouse * Out now

Have a look through some recent back issues of your Amiga magazines. Not just this one - check them all. Scan throughout the games sections, paying particular attention to the puzzley efforts of the last couple of months. Just for a giggle, count up how many times a reviewer has said something along these lines...
"All in all it's a good game, and should keep you satisfied, at least until Lemmings 2 arrives."
Have you done that? What? Twenty-six. No - just a minute - what about that one there, and the one just past the - ohm and don't forget that one, and...

Everyone, it seems, has been waiting with bated breath for the second coming (if you don't count Oh No!) of the green-haired stage divers since about... well, since before I arrived, anyway. The dozy little beasts delighted the entire gaming nation first time around, setting a new standard in the puzzle genre that has never quite been matched.
Such was the impact, the playability and the plain, simple, bare-assed fun of it all, that the question on the lips of, I guess, almost everyone is, how could DMA possibly come up with something better?

Rumours have circulated of course. First there was speculation that the sequel would contain a massive 8,000 levels. Then it was said that Lemmings 2 would never come about, and that Psygnosis, in keeping with the theme, had plans to release a game about Oxford University students.
There were even those who ventured that L2 would be the first virtual reality game for the home computer whereby players wandered around spooky rendered landscapes, suffering actual death by electrocution should they fail to complete a level.
These proved unfounded - Lemmings 2 has indeed arrived in all its glory, sporting new Lems, new skills, new levels. But let's start at the beginning...

When we left them, the Lems - having clambered, clomped, jumped and fallen their way through level after frustrating level - were comfortably and deservedly settled on their new island home.
Of course, like any civilisation, they had varying ideas as to the way they wanted to lead their lives, and being friendly - if not particularly intelligent - bunch, decided to split into tribes and inhabit separate parts of the island.

The cute animated intro features a grand-pappy Lem taking up the story, relating it to a young pup Lem. He explains how a magic talisman - their protector - was split into 12parts when the tribes went their separate ways, so that each group could rest easy in the assurance that they would come to no harm (they come to plenty of harm when I play - believe me!).
Now for some reason - Judith Chalmers is on her way with a film crew probably - the Lems must move again; they can't go anywhere without their talisman though, and not surprisingly perhaps, the pieces have become lost throughout the fair Lemming Isle.

That's the story, and it's up to you as usual to guide the creatures through the levels to safety. It's a bigger game this time, and more thought has gone into the way in which it's structured.
There are 12 tribes of Lemmings, each inhabiting their own little piece of the island. Every tribe needs to complete ten levels, upon which they are rewarded with a vital bit of the talisman to fit onto the others.

If you were delighted by the animation of the original Lemmings, then wear an old pair of trousers or shabby shirt, because the chances are you'll make a mess when you feast your eyes on the new extravaganza.
Animators Gary Timmons and David Osborne have really gone to town on the loves of their lives, creating dozens of new comical situations. As we hinted in our preview in February, the sprites are the same size as ever, but the whole shebang is just full to busting with brand new abilities.

Whereas previously there were a total of eight attributes to aid the cause, the Lems now come complete with a stonking great 52 abilities! Not all of these can be used at any one time, for practical reasons as well as programming ones, - instead it depends on the type of Lemming as to which abilities are available.
Forgive me if this sounds convoluted - you'll soon see what I mean if and when you buy the game, and you should, oh you should...
All the abilities are still in use, but as well as the new ones, there are certain situations where a combination of skills is needed, or is just as good fun to watch.
For instance, use the running and diving abilities together and you should see something worthy of an Olympic gold medal.

Passwords are out this time - instead the game can be preserved at any point by saving it to disk. Although the idea is to liberate the tribes of Lemmings one at a time, it isn't necessary by any means to make your way through the 120 levels methodically. If one aspect is proving too difficult, simply save your game and switch your attention to a different tribe.

As if all this wasn't enough, the levels are generally larger than before, and the scrolling now moves vertically as well as horizontally, making some very strange looking and tricky levels.
It's more important than ever to save as many Lems as possible, because the total is carried forward to the next level, and as anyone who's played before knows, the more you have, the better your chances of making it through.
When a level is complete, the amount of Lemmings saved dictates whether you are awarded a bronze, silver or gold medal, and when a whole tribe is safely through, your skills as a saviour result in a similarly coloured piece of talisman.
The ultimate challenge, then, is to put together a completely gold talisman, but unless you're some kind of Lemtastic genius, this is about as likely as the Queen and Ken Dodd getting together to fill out their tax returns.

Ooo-kay - what now? Oh, I don't know. You know the story: you've heard about the new Lemmings, and you already knew the basic idea before you even turned to this page. There is just so much more to this game that I could take up the entire mag if I went into the minutiae.
Suffice to say that the compo shop owners will be beating people back with a very grubby stick indeed just to reach their premises when this hits the shelves (which it should have done by the time you read this).
In fact, all in all it's a good game, and should keep you satisfied, at least until, erm, Lemmings 3 arrives.


Lemmings 2: The Tribes: Beach Lemmings Long haired chilling dudes, famed for their lazy stride and surfing and swimming abilities. Lemmings 2: The Tribes: Outdoor Lemmings Like true boy scouts, these guys are always prepared - right down to the rope and grappling hook.
Lemmings 2: The Tribes: Cave Lemmings Complete with leopard-skin loin-cloths, watch out for the ones with the clubs! Lemmings 2: The Tribes: Classic Lemmings The old favourites, still hell of a lot of fun.
Lemmings 2: The Tribes: Circus Lemmings These funny looking chaps have a good throwing arm, and like to take the odd ride in a balloon. Lemmings 2: The Tribes: Sports Lemmings Get a good run up and try your luck at the pole vault. If you're still alive, have a bash at hang gliding.
Lemmings 2: The Tribes: Highland Lemmings A highlander wouldn't be a highlander if he couldn't play the baggies! Lemmings 2: The Tribes: Shadow Lemmings These sinister beasts only come out at night - sort of a Lemming SWAT team.
Lemmings 2: The Tribes: Egyptian Lemmings You haven't lived until you've seen a Lem on a flying carpet. Lemmings 2: The Tribes: Space Lemmings Flying carpets a bit too slow? Try a jet pack then!
Lemmings 2: The Tribes: Medieval Lemmings Bows and arrows were the order of the day, back in the good old days. Lemmings 2: The Tribes: Polar Lemmings My favourite - bring your ice skates, have a snowball fight and finish off with a brisk whizz on the piste on skis.

Lemmings 2: The Tribes logo

Have you sussed your original Lemmings yet? Well, I hope you have because those lovable, but suicidal mammals are back. If you can save them, then boats will fly.

If ever there was an out-of-the-blue success story, then the original Lemmings was it. Everyone at Amiga Format treated its arrival in 1990 as just another jiffy bag in the mail. But the envelope contained what was to become one of the classic Amiga games of all time. Some snubbed it at first, saying that they didn't like puzzlers, but in the end the sound of one "Oh no!" would turn even the most hardened cynic into an addict.

Lemmings has spanned the age groups - no Amiga user has been safe. They even invaded Christmas by appearing on a special (Amiga Format 30) Coverdisk, dressed up in Santa costumes. But is there enough mileage left in the lovable creatures to carry the legend through to the next generation? Well, by the look of Lemmings 2 - The Tribes this thing could last and last.

Nothin' gets me down
The objective is much the same as on the predecessor: you have to lead a tribe of lemmings through a landscape full of chasms and traps to an exit, then on to the next level. There are 120 levels in all (the same number as the first, taking into account the difficulty levels) each posing a problem to solve, but all leading to one goal. And what is the goal? Well, we'd better tell you a story...

For starters there's a plot. The lemmings you saved in the first game have migrated to Lemming Island and they've split into 12 'Tribes', all with separate lifestyles. However, all the tribes have kept their portion of the sacred Lemming Talisman to remind them of their ancestry, and protect them from evil.
All is not rosy though, because Jimmy McLemming has taken it upon himself to travel the island and warn his compatriots of impending doom. He's informed the elders of each tribe that the only way to save them from extinction is to collect the tribes' 12 different pieces of the talisman together in the centre of the island. Only then can the lemmings summon the giant flying boat that can take them to a faraway safe haven.

The ancient book of Lemmingland tells of McLemming's journey across the dangerous land and of the characters he meets. After sifting through the information found in this 'tome' knowledge it's up to you to lead the tribes to safety. You must guide them towards the lake in the centre, otherwise they will have no chance of surviving the terrors.

The only problem is that although they've evolved and acquired new attributes to help them cope with the varied landscapes, the lemmings are just dim-witted as they always were - so the 'magic force' is needed to help them survive.

Walk of life
The 12 tribes have their own distinctive cultures and buildings which have been influenced by many walks of life. For example, there are Beach-burn Lemmings, all big and bronzed, while the Highland lemmings career wildly around, presumably a bit tiddly from too much Laphroag with their haggis.

Each tribe has distinctive skills. Many lemming attributes are universal, but some you will only find in certain factions. There are the original skills their forbears were blessed with, but the majority of the population considers these to be a bit mad, and so have developed skills more benefitting a civilised culture.

At the start of the game, you can call up a map of the island. The map shows the locations of the various tribes and their own bits of the talisman. The nearer to the centre of the map the chunk of medallion is, the nearer that tribe of lemmings is to the lake.

Before you start playing the game, or if you come across a new skill that you're not sure how to use, you can enter Practice mode. You're given the option to use any eight of the 52 lemming attributes, in one of four locations.

The control system in Lemmings 2 works much the same as it did in the first game. For those of you who don't already know, various attributes are laid out in a panel at the bottom of the screen. Selecting a skill and clicking on a lemming gives that chosen skill to that particular lemming. You have to use the right skills in the right place in order to get as many lemmings as possible to the exit.

The four elements
Balloons, stick-on Icarus wings and hang gliders are 'Air' skills. Some lemmings utilise the superpower of unaided flight to get them across unbridgeable gaps. Most of the airborne skills take advantage of another new feature of the game - the fan. Clicking on the fan icon and holding the mouse button down will produce a stream of air from the cursor to propel airborne lemmings through the skies.

Among the water-loving lemmings are surfers, swimmers and divers. There are even ice skaters to deal with the frozen stretches of water in the cooler lands. Club bashers and scoopers can be made to dig through the earth, burrowing out a safe passage
The gift of fire has also been discovered on the island. No rubbing sticks together though, the lemmings have bypassed the basics and gone straight to the flamethrowers. A lemming with this skill can blast through the landscape like a hot knife through margarine.

At first, having this number of skills available to you is a daunting prospect. More often than not you'll use completely the wrong type of earth mover at the beginning. Then you'll get stuck in a place where you need that particular attribute to escape.
You'll need at least three goes before you work out exactly what's going on. If the try, try, try again method doesn't work for you, then the option is always there to go and play around with another tribe.

Clicking on the tribe's sector on the map screen will take you immediately (well almost) to that tribe's present position.
If you eventually manage (believe me, it'll take weeks) to get all the tribes to the lake in the centre of the island then you are rewarded with a full talisman, and also the safe passage of the lemmings to pastures new.

Pieces of twelve
There are three achievement levels in the game, and three colours of talisman: a bronze talisman is awarded for a poor performance, silver for moderate and the highest accolade, gold for a perfect score. A gold piece is only awarded if you finish all 10 levels in a sector with the highest possible number of lemmings surviving to see another day.

Lemmings 2 has no level codes. Games are saved on to disk, so make sure there's a formatted disk ready before you start. Otherwise you're liable to lose your hard work. The levels are so diverse that you're likely to forget how you completed a particular level if you have to go back to it again.
By the end of your first bash at cracking the puzzles, it's my bet that you'll really begin to feel for the little creatures. You feel despondent when you're concentrating on one part of the screen and the lemmings are making that familiar dying noise off screen.

More sampled squeaks than ever before abound. Each tribe has their own tune - and particularly lurvely the songs are too. The instruments used to create the songs range from bagpipes in the Highlands, to lutes in the Medieval zone. But, no matter how diverse the instrument, every tune seems to have a definite lemmings squeakiness about it.

All the way through, the game stays true to the original idea of Lemmings. The scrolling is extremely nippy, the puzzles are just tough enough and it's eminently playable. If this doesn't get to Number One and stay there for months, I'll eat my Easter bonnet, daffs and all.


PAY ATTENTION 007, THIS IS WHAT YOUR NEW LEMMINGS DO
Lemmings 2: The Tribes: Explanation Lemming abilities
1. A lemming can now paddle across any expanse of water with a kayak - a useful skill to have.
2. An attractor will stop and play his favourite instrument. Lemmings like to dance, so they'll gather for a boogie.
3. A fencer will cut away land, leaving a tunnel that slopes upwards. He'll stop though if he hits fresh air or metal.
4. Rock climbers can scale vertical surfaces, but they can also get around over hangs of less than 45 degrees.
5. Make a lemming into a roper and he'll fire a grappling hook which pulls a line after it strong enough to walk on.
6. A Super lemming will fly like a bird to the cursor. Unless he hits any land, then he'll turn back into Clarke Lem.

Ein Lemming kommt selten allein...

Lemmings 2: The Tribes logo Amiga Joker Hit

Programmierer, Lemminge, Sensationen: Was bei Psygnosis ursprünglich als Weihnachtshit gedacht war, durften wir jetzt endlich einem topexklusiven Test unterziehen - mit (selbst-) mörderisch gutem Ergebnis!

David Jones, Häuptling des Programmierteams DMA Design, gab dem Drängen der Marketingstrategen von Psygnosis nämlich nicht nach und setzte wieder voll auf Qualität. Recht so, denn der Lohn des langen Reifungsprozess ist eine neue Action-Knobelei, die es an Genialität problemlos den großzügig verteilten Vorschußlorbeeren aufnehmen kann! Das Warten auf die Fortsetzung des Kultspektakels hat sich also gelohnt, und wir können guten Gewissens zur bewegenden Vorgeschichte kommen, die Opa Lemming hier in einem Psygnosis-typischen Mega-intro erzählt:

Nach seiner Rettung im Vorgänger ist das absturzgefährdete Völkchen auf einer Insel gelandet - und lebt seither in Streit und Zwietracht! Statt weiterhin brüderlich Seite an Seite Richtung Abgrund zu marschieren, teilten sich die Knuddel-Wühler in zwölf Einzelclans auf, die der Spieler nun im Zentrum des Eilands wieder zusammenführen soll. Da jedes Grüppchen ein Territorium von zehn Levels bewohnt, bedeutet das in der Rettungspraxis, daß insgesamt 120 tüftelige Abschnitte zu bewältigen sind. Zur Belohnung kriegt man dafür jeweils ein Bruchstück eines zerbrochenen Talismans, mit dessen Komplettierung auch das Spiel gelöst ist. Allerdings macht es einen Unterschied, ob jemand die einzelnen Aufgaben gerade noch mit Ach und Krach schafft, oder die maximale Anzahl an Lemmingen vor dem Tod bewahrt. Die Talisman-Brocken können nämlich aus Gold, Silber oder Bronze bestehen, und nur wer zum Schluß eine massive Goldmedaille vorweisen kann, darf sich mit Fug und Recht als vorbildlicher Selbstmordtherapeut bezeichnen.

Durch die gute Inselluft haben die stur drauf los rennenden Wichtel eine Menge neuere Fertigkeiten entwickelt, um (unter Zeitdruck) mit den Gefahren ihrer Wunderschaft fertig zu werden - konkret sind es 52 verschiedene Berufsbilder, auf die man nun zurückgreifen kann. Da gibt es beispielsweise Stabhochspringer, schwer bewaffnete Baller-Lemminge, Seiltänzer, Flieger, Wegbereiter mit eingebautem Rammbock, Ballonfahrer, Tiefbau-Lemminge (die Löcher mit Zement verfüllen), und sogar welche, die mit fliegenden Teppichen unterwegs sind - dazu natürlich auch noch die altbekannten Buddler, Stopper oder Sprengmeister. Obwohl pro Problemstellung höchstens auch unterschiedliche Fähigkeiten angeboten werden, ist es sicher keine schlechte Idee, sich mit den vielen neuen Betätigungsmöglichkeiten erst mal im Practice-Modus anzufreunden. Wenn wir schon bei den Neuerungen sind, sei gerechterweise noch schnell erwähnt, daß die gewohnten Level-Codes der ersten Wühlrunden durch eine handelsübliche Speicheroption ersetzt wurden und eine Lemming-Anstecknadel in der Box liegt.

Doch nun endlich zum Ernstfall: Wenn man mit der Maus (Sticks werden im Gegensatz zur PC-Version nicht unterstützt) auf "Play" klickt, bekommt man vom Zufallsgenerator irgendeinen Lemming-Stamm serviert, wer ihn lieber selbst aussuchen möchte, kann sich dazu die Inselkarte auf den Screen holen. Bei der Rettungsaktion fällt auf, daß diesmal verdächtig viele Gegenstände herumstehen, deren wohlüberlegte Benutzung erst den Weg zum Levelausgang ebnet (der übrigens oft durch eine Fahne markiert ist). Ein Beispiel dafür sind etwas Katapulte, die unsere Reisenden auf höher gelegene Plattformen schleudern - sofern man sie an der richtigen Stelle plaziert hat. Eine weiter Auffälligkeit ist das Icon-Feld am rechten unteren Bildrand, über das sich der Mauszeiger z.B. in einen Propeller zum Steuern von Ballonfahrern verwandeln läßt. Hier ist auch der passende Klickort für die Erhöhung des Spieltempo, Pausern und die Einleitung des Massensuizids in ausweglosen Situationen.

Da jedes Unter-Stämmchen auch grafisch in seiner eigenen Welt lebt, braucht man sich über einen Mangel an optischer Abwechslung wirklich nicht zu beklagen. Das alte Ägypten ist mit seinen unvermeidlichen Pyramiden vertreten, im Mittelalter scheint es unheimlich viele Schlösser und Bäume gegeben zu haben, und am Südsee-Strand stehen die obligaten Palmen und Sandburgen bereit. Weitere Abgründe lauern in der Welt des Sports und im Zirkuswelt, es gibt ein finsteres Schattenreich, die Wildnis, Höhlen, Weideland und die mit Raumstationen vollgestopften Welten des Alls. Tja, und nicht zu vergessen die nostalgische "Klassikwelt", wo man lauter liebe alte Bekannte aus den ersten Teil wieder trifft, landschaftlich gesehen jedenfalls. Die farbenfrohe Grafik darf wie gehabt im Hand- bzw. Mausbetrieb gescrollt werden und wirkt jetzt noch ein ganzes Stück detailfreudiger, auch die Animationen sind nochmals eine Nummer putziger ausgefallen als beim Vorgänger. Dazu erklingen hübsche Soundeffekte samt kleinen Sprachausgaben und "regionaltypische" Musikstücke. Daß die Steuerung astrein funktioniert, versteht sich fast vom selbst, dasselbe gilt für das langsame, aber unerbittliche Ansteigen von Schwierigkeitsgrad und Suchtwirkung im Spielverlauf.

Man muß David Jones und seinen Mannen also wirklich ein Kompliment machen - sie haben sich nicht auf ihren Lorbeeren ausgeruht, was angesichts einer Million verkaufter Erst-Lemminge ja nur verständlich gewesen wäre. Nein, der Nachfolger strotzt geradezu vor neuen Ideen und gelungenen Überraschungen, er ist alles andere als ein zweiter Auguß. Eine echte Wiederholung wird es daher wohl nur beim Lemmings-Fieber geben - wir haben uns bereits angesteckt! (C. Borgmeier)


Lemmings 2: The Tribes logo

They're back - and this time they're bringing their new range of distinctive behavioural patterns.

Yes, we know it might seem a bit hard to believe, but they've finally finished it Bravely passing up a sitting-duck Christmas market (where were all the big titles this year? Street Fighter II made it, but the competition was practically non-existent) to avoid rushing out an imperfect product, Psygnosis have kept us waiting until now. So, was it worth it?

Right, that's enough tension-building, Lemmings 2 is, perhaps, surprisingly, brilliant. I say 'perhaps surprisingly' because I for one got bored with the original Lemmings very quickly. Oh sure, it was the most original thing the Amiga had ever seen at the time, and it was really cute and imaginative and brain teasing and all that stuff, but frankly after I'd seen the first 20 screens I couldn't be bothered any more. It was repetitive, needlessly frustrating, and too big and sprawling for its own good.

In many of the original Lemmings levels, the solution to a screen would be comparatively easy to work out, but then you'd have to race around the screen with a mouse (never the most reliable controller for fast-moving action at the best of times with split-second precision and pixel-perfect accuracy to actually put your plan into operation. Tim N covered the point pretty comprehensively in his Lemmings Double Pack back in issue 21, but it's still worth repeating, because it really spoiled Lemmings for many players, me included.

The other thing was because Lemmings didn't have anything you could describe as a plot, the motivation you needed to get you through a 100-level game was in pretty short supply - when your only reward for completing a really tortuous screen is another, slightly harder one, it's easy to co just get cheesed off and give up. So, there you have the basis for my upcoming thesis, Lemmings - Why It Was Actually A Pile Of Old Cack, Not A Fab Classic Like Wot Everyone Said. Next up, my coming-right-now dissertation, Lemmings 2 - Why, Despite Being Basically Exactly The Same Game As Lemmings 1, it's Utterly Fabulous.

LEMMINGS 2 - WHY, DESPITE BEING - OH, NEVER MIND
So there's a plot. Big fat hairy deal, eh? Surely plots, while being very nice to read while you're waiting for the game to load up and stuff, don't actually make the slightest difference to how it plays? Wrong. The plot is perhaps the biggest single factor in making Lemmings 2 such a better game than its parent. With that in mind, then, maybe I ought to give you a quick synopsis.

The concept in Lemmings 2 is that the lemmings you saved at the end of Lemmings went away to live on Lemming island. When they landed, they split up into 12 tribes and went to live on different parts of the island, each taking with them a piece of the magical talisman which protected them from evil. As the generations passed, the lemmings developed different abilities to cope with the different terrains on which they'd settled, and everyone was happy. But then came the Prophecies, predicting impending disaster for Lemming Island.


But then came the Prophecies

The only chance of survival was to evacuate the island on a giant flying boat, but the boat couldn't fly without the power of the re-united talisman. Each tribe must then take their piece of talisman to the centre of the island and join together as one lemming race once more...

Okay, so that's the plot So far, so unremarkable. The thing about this plot, though, is that it allows for a game structure that's a work of genius. Each tribe has to work through 10 levels to get their piece of talisman, but they don't have to do it in sequence. At any time, you can switch between tribes and have a go at getting a different one a little bit further on if you're having problems with your first choice. This means that you have to be completely flummoxed at 12 separate points before you're completely stuck. At any point you can save the current state of the game out to disk (no more passwords, which means everyone's going to have to play through the levels for themselves, and a bloody good thing too), so methodically working your way through a couple of levels at a time should get you to the end fairly soon.

Hold one, though, isn't that going to knock the lasting appeal on the head a bit? Well, no. First off, the levels ARE tricky enough ('fairly soon' in this case is going to be measured in weeks, not days) to provide a serious challenge, and there are still 120 of them. But more importantly than that, solving a level in Lemmings 2 isn't the be-all and end-all any more. Unlike Lemmings, where you either succeeded of failed a level, now there are varying degrees of success.

Y'see, you don't have an unlimited lemming supply anymore. Each tribe starts off with 60 of the little critters, and the number you save on one level is the number you start with on the next level. If you save the maximum number possible on any screen, you get a gold medal, with silver and bronze trophies for lesser achievements. If you complete a tribe with gold medals all the way through, you get a gold talisman piece, but if you've sacrificed lemmings unnecessarily you'll only get a silver or bronze talisman piece. Hence, you can finish the game (your final talisman can be made up of any combination of gold, silver and bronze sections) without getting anywhere near the maximum level of success - you'll keep going back again and again trying to that elusive all-gold talisman that really separates the game stars from the also-ran second-raters.


Causing all nearby Lemmings to stop and dance

Lemmings 2 even makes it easy for you to try that, too. At any time in a tribe, you can go back over levels you've completed and try them again in order to get a few more lems through. What all this means is maximum user-friendliness without compromising the game's difficulty, and it's lovely. I'm sick of games that treat you like a bit of dirt on the bottom of their shoes - Lemmings 2 makes everything easy except actually solving the problems, and that's exactly the way it should be.

And I haven't even really mentioned the game itself yet - better get on with it. While the basic concept of Lemmings 2 is identical to Lemmings 1 (get the lems to the exit by using their various abilities), it's a lot more fun this time around, mostly because there are so many different breeds of lem. Some are simple variations on the original species, but some are fairly revolutionary, and the kind of things that bring a smile to the face of even a jaded, grouchy, cynical old git like me.

Examples? How about Superlemming, who dons cape and 'S' shirt and flies through the air towards your cursor, and can be guided around indefinitely until he either connects with the cursor or hits a solid obstacle? Or there's the amazing Pole-vaulter Lemming (pretty self-explanatory, this one), or the Attractors, who fulfil the same function as the old Blockers, except by playing musical instruments and causing all nearby Lemmings to stop and dance on the spot. Each tribe has its own Attractor, from the mandolin players of Medieval times to the Highlands' (what else?) bagpiper. I could go on (and on), but I won't. All in, there're 52 kinds of lemming, which means repetition and tedium need never rear their ugly heads.

And don't think that having all these new skills to learn is going to be a daunting project, either - the four training levels where you can experiment with a custom-chosen selection of lems will ensure that you are fully conversant with all the abilities at your disposal before you start the game in earnest. These practice options come in very useful - having so many different possibilities means there are a lot more directions for you to think in when you're trying to work out the puzzles (but don't panic, you don't have to work through every kind of lemming every time - you only get a few types for each screen).

That's about it for the game, though - multi-directional scrolling and new abilities and landscapes aside, it's the same as it ever was. But while Lemmings was a bit of a grind to actually play, you won't stop enjoying this 'till it's finished, and probably not even then. It's lovely, it really is.


WE'VE GOT 12 TRIBES
Lemmings 2: The Tribes: The Twelve Tribes on the Island
OK, so there aren't just the boring old Norwegian lemmings to paly around with any more. The crux of Lemmings 2 is taht there are now 12 different races of the little furry darlings, and they break down a bit like this.
01 POLAR
Stand by for lots of exceptionally poor 'piste; gags, missus. 02 HIGHLAND
Hoots mon, jings, crivens and och aye the noo, there's a gratuitous racial stereotype loose aboot this hoose. Complete with ginger beards.
03 CIRCUS
Big top larks ahoy, with loads of trampolines and cannons. Mmm-mm.
04 CLASSIC
The boring old Norwegian lemmings, as seen in the original game.
05 MEDIEVAL
Solve problems the old-fashioned way - with brute force and torture implements.
06 EGYPTIAN
Sandboys abound in this tribe, digging through the desert in search of tombs and suchlike.
07 OUTDOOR
Well, it's a load of lemmings outdoors, really, isn't it?
08 BEACH
More sandy antics, but this time of the candy-strpied hut and palm tree variety.
09 SPORTS
Including the massively pole-vaulting lemming.
10 SHADOW
Mark W's favourite tribe - SAS lemmings with bazookas. Need we say more?
11 CAVELEMS
Wee prehistoric lemmings, showing just how little evolution has affected the species.
12 SPACE
Lemmings... in... Spaaaace!

Lemmings 2: The Tribes logo CU Amiga Screenstar

Suicide is painless, or so they say, so we gave Dan a revolver and a copy of Lemmings 2, shut him in the games cupboard and awaited the results. Unfortunately, he emerged unscathed.

Mouth-breaking games are a bit thin on the ground these days. It's far easier for software houses to stick to a tried-and-money-making formula and churn out an endless supply of platform games or football kickabouts. Once in a while, though, a company will decide to take a risk and develop something a bit special. Such was the case a couple of years ago when Psygnosis released Lemmings, an arcade puzzler unlike anything seen before. Since then, the game's appeared on almost every other format imaginable, from the PC, Megadrive and C64, to the SNES, Gamegeat and even the Spectrum (which wasn't half bad, actually!). And now, the game's creators, DMA, are set to do it all over again with the release of Lemmings 2, a souped up sequel offering another 120 levels of addictive and highly frustrating fun.

If you've never played the game, here's the basic idea: you control an army of suicidal lemmings who like nothing better than to jump off the nearest precipice to their doom. It's up to you, therefore, to guide them across an obstacle filled screen to the safety of their home. It's not as easy as all that, though, as lots of hidden traps await our hapless friends as well as some mind-bogglingly devious puzzles. A minimum number of lemmings have to be rescued each go, and if you fail to make the quota you have to start the level all over again. At the bottom of the screen is a bank of icons. Each one depicts a lemming performing a special skill such as climbing, building or digging. By clicking on the appropriate icon with the mouse pointer and then on a lemmings you can make the little critter do exactly what you want. This is harder than it first appears, as timing is all-important, and if you get it wrong your troop of lemmings will do what comes naturally: hurl themselves off the nearest cliff. There's even a time limit to contend with, too, just to make it all even harder.

LOOKS FAMILIAR
On a superficial glance, nothing much has changed. The larger sprites that were promised have failed to materialise, so you're left with the tiny reach-for-your-specs lemmings we've all come to know and squint at. The control system is exactly the same, too, as are the incredibly sad songs which accompany each level. But then, it just wouldn't be the same without them.

But this is all just first impressions stuff. Dig a little deeper and the changes become much more obvious. For starters, instead of just eight skills to choose from there are now a whopping 52 of 'em! Fifty of these can be accessed during the four practice screens, to help you get used to the huge range of new options at your disposal. These range from simple skills such as the original climbers and diggers to the new ice-skaters, balloonists and swimmers. There's even a Superlem option, which transforms your spindly little lemming into a superhero with puffed-out chest and the ability to fly after the cursor all over the screen. This is great fun, especially when you lead one of them into a wall and watch him spin to the ground with stars spinning round his head. There are lots more skills, such as a pole-vaulting lemming to jump over high walls and a twister lemmings which transforms one of the team into a Tazmanian Devil who can be blown across the screen, wiping out everything he touches.

STOP THE WORLD I WANT TO GET OFF...
All these new skills come into play during the course of the game. DMA, the development team behind the game, have split the 120 levels up into 12 sections, each with its own particular theme. For instance, there's a Polar section in the game where the lemmings can ice skate across slippery bits and ski up and down snow-capped hills and mountains. Then there's a Space world where the lemmings can be made to wear huge platform-sized space boots so that they can walk upside down and up the side of the screen. They can also be kitted out in miniature jet-packs so that they can zoom around the level and reach previously inaccessible areas. Not all of these skills are specific to certain areas though, as stackers, builders and fillers appear throughout the game as do some of the more specialist lemmings.

This all adds up to a hilarious game. The levels re just as hard as in the previous two games and will have you tearing your hair out in frustration in no time at all. Admittedly, some of the skills are a bit repetitive - there are at least six types of lemmings that can fly through the air - but it's the sheer variety of skills that have enabled the game's designers to come up with a dastardly array of new puzzles, each dependent on the special abilities allocated to a particular level.

SUICIDE IS PAINLESS
Thankfully, DMA have done away with the indestructible lemming idea we mentioned in our preview of the game a few months ago. Although these new breed of lemmings can withstand a fairly large fall, they'll still end up in a gooey heap if the drop is too great. And let's face it, together with the genocide option, watching the lemmings fall to their doom was one of the joys of the game in the first place - especially when you'd spent an hour or so trying to solve a particular level and gotten nowhere. Another sense idea is the fast forward option - if you've worked out how to solve a level and have done all the necessary work, then by clicking on the fast forward button you can make all the remaining lemmings hot foot it to the exit point in super quick time.

It's possible to complete each stage by guiding just one lemming to safety, for which you're awarded a bronze medal. The key to success, though, is to go for the gold standard and this requires a near 100 percent success rate. In order to complete the game, you'll need to pick up all 12 gold medals for each world - so it's going to be a fairly Herculean task to finish this one in a hurry.

Lemmings 2 is a very polished product and it's obvious that DMA have gone all out to make it as perfect as possible. It's now possible to interact with the scenery as never before. For instance, lemmings can use the catapults littered around the Medieval stages to propel them through the air, or swing from the long dangly chains that hang from the ceiling to reach hitherto inaccessible areas. You don't have to complete a world before moving onto the next one, either. Each 'tribe' of lemmings is represented on a huge map. By clicking on a certain area, you are then granted access to that tribe, and so on. So instead of the linear handcuffs of the previous games, you can now pick which sections you want to play as you like.

There are so many brilliant innovations in this game that I could go on forever. If there's any justice in the world, Lemmings 2 will be huge. Buy a copy as soon as it's released.


THE DIRTY DOZEN
There are 12 tribes in all, each offering a selection of different skills and playing styles. Here's all 12 of 'em, with a brief description of what to expect in each world.
Lemmings 2: The Tribes: Beach Lemmings BEACH
This lot ar so laid back that they nearly fall over. Expect lots of beach-style obstacles to overcome, such as huge balls blocking the way and lots of water-based puzzles.
Lemmings 2: The Tribes: Outdoor Lemmings OUTDOOR
Blimey, talk about a hilly terrain! This one has more bumps and dips than Islington council's main roads. Expect to march those lemmings up to the top of the hill and march them down again, as my good friend the grand old Duke of York likes to say.
Lemmings 2: The Tribes: Cave Lemmings CAVE
Underground antics are the order of the day here, with lots of honeycombed mazes through which to guide your guide of lemmings.
Lemmings 2: The Tribes: Classic Lemmings CLASSIC
Yes, they've not been forgotten. If you've got a yearning to play the original game, here's another 12 levels featuring exactly the same skills as before. It all seems a bit boring now though.
Lemmings 2: The Tribes: Circus Lemmings CIRCUS
All the fun of the fair as this particular tribe get up to all sorts of circus-related tomfoolery. Hitch a ride to a jump balloon and soar into the sky.
Lemmings 2: The Tribes: Sports Lemmings SPORTS
Ahh, nothing like a bit of fresh air, which you certainly don't get here in the CU offices if you sit net to Jon. Expect lots of sporting-type puzzles here, with the pole-vaulter option coming into its own.
Lemmings 2: The Tribes: Highland Lemmings HIGHLAND
We might not find out what they're wearing under their kilts (and I don't think I'd really like to know, either) but why they've all got ginger hair is beyond me - bloody stereotypes!
Lemmings 2: The Tribes: Shadow Lemmings SHADOW
It's all a bit dark so b careful where you tread as you never know what's hidden behind the shadows. Some great atmospheric graphics accompany this world.
Lemmings 2: The Tribes: Egyptian Lemmings EGYPTIAN
Although they appear in a lot of the other worlds, the magic carpet is the easiest way to get around this brain-straining level.
Lemmings 2: The Tribes: Space Lemmings SPACE
These curious fellows have developed a fad for 70s space boots as they can use these to walk up the sides of walls. Nine-inch heels make a comeback!
Lemmings 2: The Tribes: Medieval Lemmings MEDIEVAL
The best bit here is the catapult. Hoist your lemmings aboard and watch them fly through the air. The funniest idea is to position the device so that the lemmings fly straight into the nearest wall. Splat!
Lemmings 2: The Tribes: Polar Lemmings POLAR
Brrrr. Wrap up warm as the peculiar lemmings in this particular tribe get to go ice-skating and ski up and down hills. Listen out for the Frosty the Snowman tune and cringe.