One of the most beloved puzzlers of the PSOne era, Lemmings has now been reborn as Lemmings Touch, a touch-screen friendly iteration of the game newly inspired by aspects of contemporary mobile gaming. It’s a new beginning for the dormant franchise which, while encapsulating the charm and challenge of the original, is also mildly hamstrung by occasionally frustrating and clumsy controls. With the titular rodents marching listlessly in one direction, Lemmings puzzle-solving conundrums have always been about knowing which job to assign to which Lemming and where in order to ensure they all reach the end of the level safe and sound.
Lemmings Touch is certainly no different in this regard and from the outset, developer d3t has supplied a set of tutorial levels which do a decent job of familiarising the player with all the various Lemming functions. And what functions the Lemmings have. The little green-haired suicide artists are able to dig a diagonal path through anything, act as a barrier to change the direction of the march, build staircases, climb any obstacle, use an umbrella to float down to safety and much more besides. With such a varied skill-set at the player's disposal, each level has been designed in such a way that it either requires a subset of these skills to be employed or all of them in tandem. Pleasingly, there is often more than one way to complete each level, since the varied number of Lemmings and their jobs provided often allow for multiple paths to the exit.
Where this touchscreen edition of the game differs from its 32-bit ancestor, however, is in the inclusion of obstacles such as platforms and blocks which sometimes appear in a given level. Here, players have to concern themselves with not only the self-murderous activities of the Lemmings themselves, but also the manipulation of these obstacles to create bridges and so forth to ensure their survival. Elsewhere, an additional wrinkle to the classic Lemmings formula emerges in the form of the red-haired, doppelganger Lemmings. These cheeky scarlet coloured fiends act just like their regular brethren with one major difference: if just one of them reaches the exit, the jig is up and the level has to be restarted. Their presence effectively turns the whole core of Lemmings on its head; though the game typically educates you to preserve life, here you are required to extinguish it instead. It’s a welcome addition to the proceedings for sure, and, when combined with the traditional Lemmings formula, helps to make Lemmings Touch feel fresher than it otherwise would have.
Ultimately, success in Lemmings Touch all comes down to how many of the little critters you can get to the exit and how quickly you're able to do it. Depending on your performance against the two aforementioned metrics, you'll be granted up to three stars and it is here that developer d3t has visibly embraced the tenets of mobile game design. In a similar fashion to the progression systems seen in mobile titles such as Angry Birds, the next level can be unlocked by just scoring a single star on the current one. Additionally, players can revisit earlier levels and replay them in the hopes of scoring that elusive and perfect three-star rating. It's a well-judged and effective system as it allows less-skilled players to see more of the game’s over 100 levels while enabling higher skilled Lemming generals the opportunity to perfect their performances and obtain the trophies for doing so.