666 levelThe original Lemmings had a strong edge of macabre imagery in it, perhaps to offset the excessively "cutesy" look and feel of the lemmings themselves. This is particularly prevalent on the "Hell" levels on which the exit portal is a horned pig's head, and especially on level 14 of the "Tricky" difficulty rating (the level title is "MENACING!!") which contains several skeleton limbs hanging from what appears to be dripping blood, and a large skull with a snake crawling through its eye sockets.
Probably most (in)famous of all, however, is level 21 on the "Tricky" difficulty rating, entitled "All the 6's........" and consisting entirely of a playfield which is shaped like the number 666. It also contains a total of 66 lemmings, requires 66% to be saved, provides 66 of each skill, and provides 6 minutes in which to finish. Like many pop culture references to the number 666, this was meant as a joke and wasn't intended as an overt reference to Satanism or anything else of that nature, but the matter was sensitive enough that the "Menacing" and 666 levels were removed from several versions of the game that were released for family-friendly consoles. Another level cut from some versions was "A beast of a level" which may have been removed simply for fear that it was referencing the "Beast" associated with the number 666, although the level title actually references Psygnosis' earlier title Shadow of the Beast.
A webpage by Mike Dailly (founder of DMA Design) documenting the history of DMA explains that the 666 level originated when Mike wanted to make a 5-themed level, but he couldn't get the level to require 55% of the lemmings to be saved without changing the number of lemmings. Then, thinking of the other Hell levels in the game, he thought of 666 and opted to go with that. He also expresses surprise at how strong a reaction the level got, particularly since from his perspective, players are actually rescuing the lemmings from Hell into a better place.
Amiga Power surveyThis was the most popular choice when Amiga Power magazine asked a number of famous programmers which Amiga game they wish they'd written and why. Archer MacLean was impressed by its cuteness and attention to detail, while Andy Beveridge said "It's refreshingly different, and fun too... and it's going to make lots of money, I'm sure" - other programmers echoed this final point.
Apple IIGS versionFrench programming team calling themselves, "Brutal Deluxe" did a 'unofficial' conversion for Apple IIGS computer in 1997, formally known as "Brutal Deluxe's LemminGS". Mainly based on Atari ST version and contains 10 of 92 levels are in the playable demo. Minimum 700Kb free RAM and System 6. Tool 35 (Midi Synth) part of System 6, 4Mb RAM, Accelerator card and hard drive is recommended.
Arcade versionAn arcade coin-op version of Lemmings was prototyped by Data East (which mainly makes pinball equipment) in 1991, never to be released. It uses the same levels (occasionally edited to remove various things, more on that later), but has fewer levels. It is played with one trackball, one select button, and one start button for each of 2 players. Some differences in this version include:
- The music is slower, the music quality is lower, there are some new songs, and the songs are apparently not finished (in most of the songs, some of the instruments do not play their parts of the song, and in a very few songs only the background rhythm is there and the other instruments do nothing)
- The game does not tell you what skills a lemming has when you point at it like most other versions. Lemmings with skills that are not instantly visible (floaters, climbers, etc.) have flashing clothes to set them apart.
- A high-pitched Lemming voice gives you hints and comments on your performance. This is apparently not entirely implemented, because it frequently tells you to blow Lemmings up for no good reason.
- The time limit in some levels is completely impossible, due to the slow walking speed of the Lemmings. However, if you run out of time, you can put in more quarters to buy more.
- Exploding lemmings just sit down and blow up, rather than walking around with a countdown. Therefore, in many levels (notably "Now Use Blockers and Bombers"), the Blockers are available, and the Hint Voice tells you to use them, but they are not needed.
- Various references to "heaven" and "hell" were replaced with different things.
- The slight goriness of the game has been toned down a bit, and exploding Lemmings do not "splatter".
- The button animations are changed so that the debris and bricks in the Basher, Builder, Miner, and Digger match the color of the debris and bricks in the level you are on.
- Some level names are changed, including a level now named "The Steel Mines of Kessel" in an apparent reference to the planet Kessel in Star Wars.
- The lemmings occasionally go behind the exit when they should go in front. They still "jump" as if they are going in it, and they can be seen through parts of the exit.
- The "666" level is not playable, but it is in the game's data ROM. Stored in a location in memory near it is an interesting bunch of text about a conversation between someone at Psygnosis and the VP of Data East relating to the 666 level, the hell references, the "Menacing" level, and an obstacle that appears to pull the skin off the Lemmings. Don't ask me why this is here. Silly programmers.
- There are a few levels on difficulty level "Mystery" that are completely new. They're incredibly buggy.
Atari ST versionThe software controllable LED of the Atari ST disk drive was used in-game. It blinks when the three last building bricks are used by the bridge builder lemming.
Copy protectionAt least one of the U.S. 3.5" floppy disk releases contained an interesting form of copy protection. In addition to the game randomly asking you on game start-up to insert the 3.5" floppy install disk to verify you have a legitimate copy, the install disk itself was "defective by design". Portions of the disk have an invalid file and/or cluster structure. Running the disk through a disk checking program such as Windows Scandisk will show these errors, but they're all "by design", so it's important that you don't correct them using such a program. Even if you copied the disk using specialized disk copying programs, more often than not, the copy will not be accepted by the game when it asks you to insert the install disk.
Heart attackIn Watertown, New York, during the spring of 1997, a 78-year old man was hospitalized (in critical condition) due to a heart attack, which he suffered when he entered the basement for the first time of the furniture store he owned and was surprised to find hundreds and hundreds of 5-foot Lemmings cardboard cutouts staring at him. The creepy green-haired critters gave him such a shock that he keeled over and went into cardiac arrest. After hearing of this and recognizing the cutouts (referred to as "lifesize zombie cutouts" by the TV news) as Lemmings, Tony Gies asked both Psygnosis and DMA Design about the cutouts. Neither of them had any records or memory of making the cutouts, and nobody knew how they got into the base ment of the store -- which this man had owned and used as a furniture store for about 20 years. Spooky.
ReferencesThe level 22 in the fun difficulty setting, which is named as "a beast of a forest" was designed as a tribute to the Psygnosis' big action hit on the Amiga (where Lemmings was original created) Shadow of the Beast. The graphics used in the level resemble the graphics of the first level of the Beast. This level is different from other levels in Lemmings in its use of music as well -- a MOD track taken directly from the Beast is played throughout the level while all other levels in Lemmings use FM music.
As well as level 22 of 'Fun' (see Aycan Gulez's trivia entry, below), there are also Psygnosis tribute levels in the other three difficulty categories. Tricky 14 is a tribute to Menace, Taking 15 is for Awesome and Mayhem 22 is for Shadow of the Beast II.
Terry PratchettThe author Terry Pratchett claimed that he was so addicted to the game that he forced himself to delete it from his hard drive and even wipe the original disks, as he was so worried about missing deadlines due to playing it too much.
Version differencesAll ports contain the 120 standard levels from the DOS version, with the following exceptions, according to http://lemnet.cjb.net:
- The Amiga, Atari ST, SNES and Sega Genesis versions contain 20 2-player levels.
- The SNES version contains 5 extra levels.
- The Genesis version contains 60 of the standard levels and an additional 120 unique levels
- The Macintosh version of Lemmings contains a different Tricky 21, called "Going their separate ways". This level is much harder than the original "All the 6's".
- The Windows 95, Playstation and Gameboy versions all contain less levels than the original DOS version.
- Computer Gaming World
- November 1992 (Issue #100) – Action Game of the Year
- October 1994 (Issue #123) – Introduced into the Hall of Fame
- November 1996 (15th Anniversary Issue) - #12 in the “150 Best Games of All Time” list
- November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) –#14 Funniest Computer Game
- GameStar (Germany)
- Issue 12/1999 - #35 in the "100 Most Important PC Games of the Nineties" ranking
- Power Play
- Issue 02/1992 - Best Computer Game in 1991
- Issue 02/1992 - Best Dexterity Game in 1991
- Issue 02/1992 - Best Game Idea in 1991
- Retro Gamer
- October 2004 (Issue #9) – #21 Best Game Of All Time (Readers' Vote)
- ST Format
- August 1991 (Issue #8) – #9 Top Atari ST Classic Games (Editorial staff vote)
- January 1993 (issue #42) – #3 in '50 finest Atari ST games of all time' list