Long ago, when the original Lemmings entered the computer gaming circuit, game enthusiasts were enthralled by a new morbid, yet somehow cute game. Lemmings - where the object was to guide a relentlessly marching troop of otherwise suicidal creatures to safety - was an addicting title that actually required the player to exercise mind-racking ingenuity on the fly. Many sequels to this original title have since been released by Psygnosis, the latest having been Lemmings 3D, which expanded upon the linear puzzles found in previous Lemmings titles by adding a new dimension to the action. Lemmings Paintball, Psygnosis' most recent pledge in the Lemmings brotherhood, takes quite a different approach to our favorite self-abusive creatures. The sweat that the first Lemmings produced on your brow may not be there, but die-hard Lemmings fanatics may still get a kick out of this new edition.
Unlike previous Lemmings scenarios, the levels in Paintball are rendered in three-quarter perspective. You begin with anywhere from one to four Lemmings, controlled separately or as a group (a la Syndicate). Armed with paintball guns, these guys have to wander through each level, be-splattering any enemies who cross their paths, their goal being to capture one or more flags that lie in some area of the map. Tricks and traps such as collapsing floors, paint-mines, and lava pits befall the pint-sized adventurers in their travels. You must carefully utilize elevators, keys, and balloons to overcome these obstacles, and in some instances, one of your lemmings may have to activate a lever to free his lemming comrades who are trapped elsewhere in the level. The strategic element, while not always brilliant, is still present, and this time around, if you get tired of playing one of the 100 or so levels, you can always play Paintball over the network.
Sadly, I had a lot of problems with Lemmings Paintball, and two things that saved this game for me were the soundtrack and the fact that Psygnosis included two of the classic Lemmings titles as a bonus. The problem is, while the graphics are pretty good and some of the levels may be challenging, the game ends up leaving a great deal to be desired. The lemmings still move to your beck and call, proceeding from point A to point B even if danger lies in between. So, while the puzzles aren't terribly difficult in themselves, the difficulty in having to navigate these dumb creatures around the precipitous terrain of each level can quickly become frustrating. Again, although veteran Lemmings-heads will probably derive some satisfaction from Lemmings Paintball, the title's bizarre gameplay makes it hard to compare this game to its predecessors. Hopefully, the next installment in the Lemmings infinology will contain some of the craftiness of the original Lemmings. Perhaps a Lemmings-Doom clone is in order. Can you picture lemmings in body armor?