The origin of the Lemmings
History has shown us on more than one occasion that some of the best video games have come out from somewhat strange moments, from coincidences that serve as inspiration to create something that will later remind them of their entire lives.
One such example is Pac-Man. Your Creator, Toru Iwatani, I was looking to create a video game that women liked in the same way as others with war themes and where it was necessary to kill extraterrestrial invaders, etc., they had achieved it with men. The problem is, it needs a mechanic that will trap them and is nothing to do with killing or destroying.
Thus, while one day he was eating pizza, he clearly saw the figure of the popular cocoon when he removed one of the portions. An outing to eat pizza with his companions and a slice that discovered that giant mouth was the trigger for an iconic video game.
Well, the Lemmings emerged in a somewhat similar way. In 1989 was when the first animation was created and it was in the most curious way. Mike Dailly was in the DMA Design offices with the rest of those who were his colleagues at the time. One of them, Scott Johnson, freelance artist, I was drawing little men that should be used for the protagonist of Walker (a video game for Amiga) to shoot them.
Johnson’s work resulted in a figure rendered in 16 x 16 pixels. It was at that moment, after seeing it, that Mike Dailly told him that they could get even smaller, in just 8 x 8 pixels. Something that would bring them advantages because at that time resources were more limited than they are today.
So Dailly got to work and in about an hour he had that first little man ready. So after having it ready, he animated them and put on a screen next to a weight that was crushing them. Outcome? An unexpected reaction by his peers: laughs.
Seeing those little characters being crushed seemed to be very funny and they began to add other deadly elements. In the end, everyone saw that what had arisen unexpectedly could have a future as an independent idea in a video game.
The rest of the team began to add other elements to the common mouth that devoured them, a kind of rotating propeller that launched them at full speed, etc. Everyone was having a great time with it and Russell Kay said there was a game there and I coined the term Lemmings.
The first demo arrived
After a series of events that led them to get to work creating their next video game, Lemmings, the first demo version was shown to Psygnosis in September 1989. They liked what they saw and it didn’t take much more to decide to bet on it and market the game.
A title that has not stopped attracting attention since it appeared on the market. So that first installment for PC was not the last that would be seen over the years. Throughout history, versions have been seen for all consoles and even mobile devices.
What’s more, in the same way that more complex and demanding games can be played from a browser today, Lemmings can also be enjoyed just by having an internet connection and a web browser. So, without being responsible for how you are going to manage your time from now on, to play Lemmings from the browser just click on this link.
Why the green hairs and other curiosities
In this story of creation there are details that with the passage of time become something iconic and in the Lemmings game one of them is hair color of each of these mini characters.
The Lemmings have green hair, but it was not a premeditated decision or any kind of consensual intention. Truth be told, the hair color was due to a graphical limitation issue. At that time the color palette PC EGA that could be used for thank you cards was very limited. So between the idea of wearing blue or green hair, the second option seemed to make the character look much better on screen. And it is normal, green is the color that our eyes distinguish most easily.
However, it is not the only curious detail. Another interesting problem they solved was the dilemma of how to control up to 100 lemmings that could be on the screen. The solution was simple, without being able to control them directly.
What they did was place a series of elements on the stage itself or give the user the ability to create them to control the constant flow of walking lemmings. Because these do not stop, they only change direction when they collide with any of the existing details.
Along with this, the game’s level editor, an important element for many, was based on DPaint or Deluxe Paint, a kind of Photoshops of the time for Amiga computers. It served its purpose, so they kept it for a long time as a tool for creating new levels.
The Lemmings on your mobile
Of all the platforms on which you can enjoy Lemmings, it is logical that doing so on mobile devices is the preferred option for many users today. For the usual reasons, it is the device that we always carry in our pocket and being able to play a game wherever we are does not seem like a bad idea if we get bored.
The latest game published is Lemmings Puzzle Aventure and although it is free, you should also know that integrated purchases are offered as in many other mobile games. But they are not a big problem, so you can enjoy the game, its mechanics and save or not, that is up to you, these little characters.
30 years of Lemmings
The first installment of Lemmings was published in 1991 and they managed to sell more than 55,000 copies on the first day for the Amiga version. At the end of the same year, around 15 million copies among all the formats that were available, they were counted. Data that were still impressive at the time.
Over the years the title became more important, until it became one of the best in history and currently one of the most recognizable by any video game fan. Hence, they always arouse certain interest, even more so now that it is 30 years old and it is known that it will have a new documentary that will delve deeper into its origin and other data that are sure to be very curious to know.