Friday, June 17, 2011

Top 50 Video Game Moments: Number 50

Hey everybody, sorry about the wait.

Today, I'm posting number 50 for the 'Moments' list. We'll get the whole 'both lists on the same day' thing going starting this next Monday, and assuming that there are no more horrible computer malfunctions, we'll be good to go.

This particular entry isn't really a spoiler, but many others will be, so I'm mostly checking to make sure this "jump break" function is going to work the way I want it to.

On with the countdown.

The old PC game Lemmings is a lot like the old 80's TV show MacGuyver.
  • Both are kinda sorta regarded as "classics"
  • Both are vastly overrated
  • MacGuyver featured awful 80's-style fonts, Lemmings had that legendarily awful "blue text on brown background" nonsense.
  • Both avert gun violence, but are big fans of explosions
Lemmings has aged kind of poorly. Most levels task the player with allowing one lemming free to make the rest of the level safe for all of the other lemmings to follow. This often involves watching him walk from point A to point B, building a little bridge, and then repeating the process a couple more times.

It takes him 45 minutes to walk, bash, and climb his way from point A to point B
What happens if the player should misjudge a gap, or run out of blocks, or simply forget what he's doing for a moment? The lemming dies a horrible death, and you essentially fail the level.

And that when the magic happens.

Rather than simply end the level once it becomes impossible to progress, the player is allowed to activate the "Nuke" option. Five seconds after the nuke is deployed, all of the lemmings in the level explode. Never before had failing been more enjoyable than succeeding - which was good, because more often than not, it seemed as though the builder who was about 5 bridges across a 10 bridge long chasm would "forget" to inform you that he was out of bricks.

Why did you do that? Now I'm going to have to kill all of your friends.
Pretty much everyone played this game, and the nuke was easily the most enjoyed feature.Taking out your failings on the poor, dumb lemmings wasn't enough. Pretty soon, the player would begin to get creative. Would you bunch all of your lemmings together, drilling a hole straight into the ground? Or would you maximize the spread, enjoying every last satisfying 'POP!'? Either way, the Lemmingnuke remains one of the very few moments of video game cruelty that I enjoy to this day.

You best believe I did.


  1. Ha. Making failing fun is something that games have struggled with. Super Mario Bros. was an incredible success for home consoles, and as such, had many imitators; unfortunately, deaths were handled in the most awful of ways: same sound effect, same music cue, same animation. That shit drives a player nuts.

    Super Monkey Ball is also excellent at it, a la Lemmings.

    Might I suggest that you list the game, then do the hidden jump thingy? I don't want to ruin a game I might actually be playing, and if I click to expand, I won't be able to help myself.

    I have to say I'm bummed you haven't had a chance to experience Heavy Rain. I got to that game just in this last few months. As a game it was probably just better than average, but as a story it was excellent and the game's final moments had me bawling. I'm not exaggerating.

  2. Regarding spoilers, I actually am doing that for the remainder of the list, since the next few DO have spoilers.

    Heavy Rain is absolutely on my "must-play" list. Unfortunately, I am without a PS3, so unless I end up borrowing my buddy's for a while, it seems unlikely that I'll get to it in any meaningful period of time. Probably way too late for this list, anyway (I have given myself some spacing, because I know something's going to blow me out of the water in the next couple of months, and I don't want to be that guy who gets to the end and immediately says "I'd do the list completely differently if I made it now."

  3. Heh, this is my burden. I play so many games that I could make a top 50 (and have) and by the time I've gotten to the end, I've rendered it completely out of date. I made my list while I was playing Uncharted, and I added it in at number two and a half.

  4. Ha. Just went and played Lemmings online again. Good fun, my only weakness is that I unnecessarily blow up a lot of my guys (sometimes in inopportune places).