Thursday, 1 November 2018

Video Game Character of the Month - November 2018 - The Lemmings - Lemmings

Video Game Character of the Month
November 2018
The Lemmings
Ah, the Lemmings, you've made it! Now you just need to head over to this sheer cliff and collect your award. Ah, there you go, aren't they just the cutest? I really feel proud at this moment that they've finally achieved the prestigious Video Game Character of the Month award. It really is the greatest day... wait. No. Don't just keep walking! That's the cliff edge! Why are you following each other to your deaths?! What are you, lemmi... ahem, right. Oh, Arceus, why?! So much death... so much... *shivers*
And now a little bit of information on the Lemmings:

Lemmings was the second-highest rated game in the history of the Amstrad Action monthly magazine
It is one of the best selling games of all time, with approximately 20,000,000 sales between its many ports
It is also one of the most ported games
The player can assign a limited number of eight different skills to specific Lemmings that allow these Lemmings to alter the landscape, affect the behavior of other Lemmings or to clear obstacles to create a safe passage for the rest of the Lemmings
A certain amount of Lemmings must reach the end of the level in order to pass it
The eight skills are:
Climbers - can climb vertically but will fall down if they hit an overhang
Floaters - use a parachute to fall safely from heights
Bombers - explode after a five-second timer, destroying themselves and any destructible landscape in close proximity, but not other Lemmings or traps
Blockers -  stand still and prevent other Lemmings from passing, and cause other Lemmings to reverse their direction
Builders - build a stairway of 12 steps
Bashers - dig horizontally 
Miners - dig diagonally downwards
Diggers - dig directly downwards
In 3D Lemmings, a ninth skill was added - the Turner, which turned Lemmings 90 degrees
In Lemmings 2: The Tribes there are 51 skills split into the categories of Wind Skills (Lemmings who are affected by the Fan), Ground Removing Skills (Lemmings who remove part of the ground), Building Skills (Lemmings who create safe terrain), Shooting Skills (Lemmings who fire or launch something), Movement Skills (changes the way Lemmings move) and Misc. Skills (extraordinary Lemming skills)
The Lemmings have green hair and blue robes but these are inverted for the second player in two-player mode
They are apparently incredibly stupid and/or obedient/have a deathwish, and will walk in one direction, ignoring other Lemmings in their way, and going straight into traps or off edges, and will only turn around if they encounter something they cannot pass/will not kill them
Lemmings can die in many ways including by falling from a great height, falling into water or lava, disappearing off of the side/top/bottom of the level map, being caught in a trap or fire, or being assigned the Bomber skill
Scott Johnston's mother was the first voice for the Lemmings
Credited with starting the RTS and Indirect Control genres
In The Adventures of Lomax, the titular Lemming, Lomax, has to save his friends from Evil Ed using his magical helmet
There are 12 tribes of Lemmings, as shown in Lemmings 2: The Tribes: the Beach, Cavelm, Classic, Polar, Space, Outdoor, Medieval, Highland, Egyptian, Sports, Shadow and Circus Tribes 

Origin of The Lemmings:
The inspiration for the gameplay in Lemmings came from a simple animated character sprite in an 8x8 pixel box created by Mike Dailly, who would later design the original prototype of Grand Theft Auto and was one of the four founders of DMA Design (later, Rockstar North), in Deluxe Paint, a bitmap graphics editor. This was as part of the development of side-scrolling shooter, Walker, and envisioned as a sequel to the side-scrolling shooter, Blood Money. Dailly was able to quickly produce an animated graphic showing his creations moving endlessly. Gary Timmons, and other members of DMA Design then helped remove the stiffness in the animation and make additional graphical improvements. Russel Kay, another team member, commented that 'there's a game in that' and later coined the term 'Lemmings' for the characters. Allowing the Lemmings to move across the landscape was based on a weapon concept for Blood Money, which, in turn, was based on the side-scrolling shooter arcade game Salamander. 
The levels were designed based on the Deluxe Paint interface and there were several internal iterations of the levels, with each designer challenging the others. Some of the internally tested levels were then sent to publisher, Psygnosis, with most levels being solved quickly but others turning out to be much more complicated. Each of the designers had a different style in their levels with Dailly's levels often having titles containing clues about what to do, and generally required the player to perform several actions at once; Gary Timmons's levels were minimalist in design, with pop culture references in the titles and Scott Johnston's levels were generally tightly packed. Dailly also created the custom levels based on other Psygnosis and Reflections Interactive Amiga games, although in the ports these levels have been removed or altered to remove the references. After the hard levels were created, the team developed several simple levels so as to create a good learning curve. Timmons is credited with the official drawings of the Lemmings which are used on the box cover artwork.
The music was originally created by Scott's younger brother, Brian Johnston, who sampled bits of copyrighted music. However, due to growing awareness of music copyright, Psygnosis asked Tim Wright to replace the offending tracks. This resulted in many public domain songs being melded to form the music such as 'Ten Green Bottles' and Wagner's 'Bridal Chorus'.
The two-player option was inspired by the games Populous and Stunt Car Racer. Originally, two-player was going to be enabled via a null-modem connection between two machines but, instead, the ability of the Amiga to have two mouse pointer devices usable at the same time was utilised, and thus, created the split-screen mode.

Evolution of The Lemmings:
Due to its success, Lemmings was rapidly ported to many other platforms and, as such, is now considered one of the most widely ported video games. David Jones stated that after porting the game to 20 systems, he stopped keeping count of additional ports. With the 2006 remake for the PSP, the Lemmings gained a pre-rendered 3D landscape, although the gameplay is still 2D. This also introduced a user level-editor. In October, 2006, the game was ported to the PS2 with use of the EyeToy, an early Kinect-like device, that changed the gameplay by making the player stretch and use their limbs in the recorded picture. In 2007, the game was remake again for PS3 and has similar graphical improvements as the PSP title, on-line scoreboards and additional levels developed for high-definition display but lacks the level-editor of the PSP title. Another remake, Lemmings Touch, was released for the PS Vita in 2014.
Lemmings has also received some expansion packs following its launch, including Oh No! More Lemmings, in 1991 which added more difficulties and levels as well as enhanced graphics and altered sound effects. Furthermore, series of short games, known as Christmas Lemmings, or Holiday Lemmings, were released between 1991 and 1994 (first released as Xmas Lemmings as a demo in 1991 and 1992). The gameplay was unchanged from the original game and the base game is not required.
In 3D Lemmings, the Lemmings moved completely to the third dimension, requiring the player to utilise the camera and the new Turner Lemming. 
In The Adventures of Lomax, the gameplay changes to side-scrolling platform, while utilising the Lemming characters and some of the gameplay elements such as building bridges and blowing up obstacles
In Lemmings 2: The Tribes, the amount of skills are increased to 51, although only 8 are useable per level. The story follows the 12 Lemming tribes attempting to escape Lemming Island before a great darkness, that was part of an ancient prophecy, arrives. They achieve this with the help of the Guide, the player from the first Lemmings game (why they trust them, considering how much death they caused, I don't know), and the power of the Lemming Talisman. The story is continued in All New World of Lemmings, although this only follows the adventures of the Shadow Tribe, the Classic Tribe and Egyptian Tribe as they explore their own islands. It also involves larger character graphics (demanded by The Children's Television Workshop) than the previous games which Mike Dailly felt spoiled the game, although it was well received by the critics. Dailly and David Jones have also stated that the game was more to fulfill their commitment to Psygnosis than to actually do a good game. 
In Lemmings Paintball, the genre changed to an action game that involved splattering enemies with a paint gun in an isometric view.
In Lemmings Revolution, the game returns to its puzzle game routes but is displayed on a rotating 3D cylinder rather than a 2D side-scroller. The storyline revolves (get it?) around weasel characters capturing Lemmings and creating new puzzles so that they can sadistically entertain themselves by watching them like they used to.

Lemmings: released (North America and Europe) on February 14, 1991 on the Amiga/(Europe) in March 1991 on the Atari ST/(North America) in May 1991/(Europe) in 1991 on DOS/(Japan) on November 27 1991 on TurboGrafx-16/(Japan) on December 17 1991 on PC-98/(Japan) on December 18 1991/(North America) in March 1992/(Europe) in August 1992 on the SNES/(Europe) in 1991 on ZX Spectrum/(United Kingdom) in 1992 on the Amstrad CPC/(Japan) in April 1992 on FM Towns/(North America/Europe) in 1992/(Japan) on February 5 1993 on the Game Gear/(North America) in November 1992/(Europe) in 1992 on the NES/(Europe) in 1992 on the Sega Master System/(Japan) on November 20 1992/(North America) in September 1992/(Europe) in 1992 on the Sega Mega Drive/(Japan) on April 17 1992 on Sharp X68000/(North America) in 1993/(Japan) in 1994 on the 3D0/(Europe) in 1993 on the Atari Lynx/(World Wide) in 1993 on the CD-i/(World Wide) in 1993 on the Commodore 64/(United Kingdom) in 1994 on the Amiga CD32/(North America) in August 1994 on the Game Boy/(North America/Europe) in 1994 on Windows 3.x/(North America) on December 20 2000 on Game Boy Colour/(Europe) on March 25 2005 on JM2E/(Japan) on November 30 2006/(North America) on December 7 2006/(Europe) on March 23 2007 on the PlayStation 3
Xmas Lemmings (Demo): released in 1991/1992 on the platforms that Lemmings was on
Xmas Lemmings (Full Retail Release) released in 1993/1994 on the Amiga and Atari ST

Christmas Lemmings/Holiday Lemmings: released (World Wide) between 1991 and 1994 on the platforms that Lemmings was on
Lemmings 2: The Tribes: released (World Wide) on November 30, 1993 on the Amiga, MS-DOS, Sega Mega Drive, SNES, Game Boy, Acom Archimedes, Atari ST, FM Towns
All New World of Lemmings: released (World Wide) in 1994 on DOS/(World Wide) in 1995 on the Amiga 
3D Lemmings/Lemmings 3D (North America): released (North America) on July 31 1995 on PC/(PAL) on September 29 1995/(North America) on November 21 1995/(Japan) on November 8 1996 on the PS1/(Europe) in 1996/(Japan) on August 23 1996 on the Sega Saturn
Lemmings Paintball: released (World Wide) on May 31 1996 on Microsoft Windows
The Adventures of Lomax/Lomax (Europe): released (North America) on October 22 1996/(Europe) in November 1996/(Japan) on December 18 1997 on PS1 and Microsoft Windows
Lemmings Revolution: released (North America) on April 28 2000 on Microsoft Windows
Oh No! More Lemmings: released (World Wide) in 1991 on the Amiga/(World Wide) ported to the Acron Archimedes, Atari ST, DOS, Macintosh and Sam Coupé Lemmings ports/the levels were ported to the Game Boy Color, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation and Sega Genesis versions of Lemmings
Lemmings (2006): released (World Wide) on May 23 2006 on PSP/(World Wide) on October 13 2006/(World Wide) on December 7 2006 on PS3

That's all on the Lemmings as, if  I'm honest, they've all fallen off the cliff. But, if you see any mistakes/think I've missed anything out or if you have an idea about who should win another month's prestigious Video Game Character of the Month award, then please don't hesitate to comment!

Goodbye for now, Harry


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