Lemmings Touch

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
Lemmings Touch Game Poster Image
Modern update on classic puzzler is a fun, challenging test.

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age 18+
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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Educational Value

Kids can learn about puzzle-solving and strategy in this smart brainteaser for PlayStation Vita. Players need to carefully examine each level before starting, identifying obstacles and hazards before choosing how and when to make their lemmings deal with them. They might opt to have them dig through obstructions or climb over them or make all their lemmings march forward at once or set up a blockade to corral the main group while sending one or two ahead to carve a path for the rest. Quick reflexes are occasionally required, but kids can pause the game whenever they like to take time to consider their options and change tactics on the fly. Lemmings Touch lets kids practice thinking logically and encourages them to tackle problems by thinking out strategies and planning ahead.

Positive Messages

The game encourages logical and strategic thought. It rewards players who take the time to pause and plan ahead. There's also a subtle underlying message about thinking for yourself and not just following along with what others do.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The lemmings, who thoughtlessly follow each other -- often to their doom -- make for poor behavioral models.

Ease of Play

A series of tutorial levels does a good job of introducing players to the game's basics. But the touchscreen controls can make some actions tricky, and working out nuances associated with each lemming's ability takes time and experimentation. Plus, puzzle difficulty ramps up pretty quickly after a player completes the levels marked "easy." 

Violence & Scariness

Lemmings frequently die from falling or being blown up. They make a mild yelping sound while plummeting and break into colorful bits that quickly disappear when they explode. No blood or gore.

Language
Consumerism

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Lemmings Touch is a puzzle game with a bit of mild cartoon violence. Players try to safely guide small marching lemmings from level entrance to exit, but often not all of them will make it. They may fall to their doom or get blown up. But there's no blood or gore; exploded lemmings simply break into colorful bits that quickly disappear. The puzzle-solving action is a good workout for a player's brain, forcing consideration of both the layout of environments and the lemmings' abilities to work out clever ways of completing each level.

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What's it about?

LEMMINGS TOUCH is part of a puzzle-game franchise that dates back to 1991, when the original Lemmings debuted on PC. This edition employs the same basic formula as its predecessors: The player's objective is to safely guide groups of hairy little creatures from level entrance to level exit. They're not very smart. They'll walk dumbly in one direction until they either hit an obstacle -- which will make them turn around and walk the other way -- or march off cliffs or into hazards. You can keep them safe by assigning abilities to specific lemmings, such as climbing, digging, and floating with an umbrella. But these skills are limited in quantity, so they need to be used sparingly. You also can alter the environment for the lemmings, shifting platforms and altering the trajectory of trampolines. A series of tutorial levels walks players through the basics, preparing them to tackle the dozens of progressively more difficult levels that lie beyond.

Is it any good?

Ironically, the "touch" aspect of Lemmings Touch is its biggest drawback. The touchscreen controls are intuitive at first but give rise to issues not present in other versions of the game, such as the ability to accidentally scroll the screen when you mean to slide a platform or to be blinded at inopportune moments by the large, touch-activated abilities menu that floats over your lemmings. The interface doesn't cause problems most of the time, but it can prove quite frustrating on occasion.

Still, when the touch controls aren't getting in the way, this version of the classic puzzler is just as much fun as its predecessors. Analyzing stages filled with obstacles and strategically charting your lemmings' course through them is as engaging as ever, particularly since there's rarely only one right solution to any problem. The path you carve through any given level could very well be completely original and is all the more satisfying for it. Version-specific additions -- such as special objectives that go beyond simply getting from entrance to exit and earned items that let players alter the lemmings' appearance -- will keep players experimenting and may even lead to new strategies. There's plenty here for puzzle fans to enjoy -- assuming they aren't turned off by the occasionally fussy interface.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about misconceptions to do with lemmings. Try looking up explanations for these creatures' occasional mass deaths and why the idea of mass lemming suicide has persisted over the years.

  • Discuss the thrill that comes with solving puzzles and problems. We all feel satisfaction when we're able to work out ways to overcome obstacles, whether in our day-to-day lives or in games such as this one. Why do you think that is?

Game details

  • Platforms: PlayStation Vita
  • Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: logic, solving puzzles, strategy
  • Price: $9.99
  • Pricing structure: Paid
  • Available online? Available online
  • Developer: SCEA
  • Release date: May 27, 2014
  • Genre: Puzzle
  • ESRB rating: E for Mild Fantasy Violence, Mild Language

For kids who love brain games

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