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The level that everyone remembers. Fluffy, innocent, and not at all murder-inspiring.
For a long time, especially while growing up, I was insistent that computer games didn't cause violence, and that anyone who blamed a school shooting or mob battering on Grand Theft Auto was clearly mad, irresponsible, and a host of other unpleasant things. After all, one of my favourites was Carmageddon - which is fantastic fun, by the way - and I turned out all right (apart from aiming for that chav one time, but I think that was forgivable). But the opinion of the innocence of the humble video game that I held throughout my entire school career has now evaporated because I have started playing Lemmings.

I originally played the first game when we got a copy on disk from a family friend (software piracy being rather unheard of and therefore somewhat easier in the days that I was unaware of the existence of "Don't Copy That Floppy"). I can't have been more than about eight at the time, and my mode of play was strictly limited to the "Fun" set of levels, where any idiot with reasonable mouse control could get through the levels by giving them a couple of Bashers at random.

But it wasn't until recently, when I discovered the game sitting on my pendrive during a train journey, that I made a resolution to finally complete it. After all, I decided, I was three times the age that I was when I first played it, so I should have at least some clue about what to do now, and could breeze through it with the aid of problem solving and some luck.

Oh, go ahead and kill yourselves, see if I care.
Habitually, I didn't swear before starting playing this game. It wasn't a conscious or moralistic choice, it was just something that I always felt strangely uncomfortable about. But after getting through to some of the harder levels while playing it on the train during my commute, my immediate airspace is rapidly turned a light shade of blue due to a Builder building decisively in the wrong direction, or an Exploder blowing up a pixel before he was meant to. The only reason I haven't actually killed anyone yet is because I have GameFAQs to fall back on if I get completely stuck, but wireless Internet has sadly not extended underground yet and for most of the time I'm playing it, that's not an option.

If by some miracle you have got through life without hearing of this game, the object is to guide a troop of green-haired men (who don't actually resemble lemmings in any way) to the exit of each level, using a number of the ten skills that you can assign to them whenever possible. If not assigned skills, the crowd will march helplessly off cliffs, into water, down wells or into imposing grinding machines without flinching.

My thought process in a typical level of the game goes something like this.

I'll get you, DMA Design.
  2. Look around the level, comparing it to your list of skills available, and try to keep track of where you think you'll use them all.
  3. Unpause, usually without a totally clear idea of what you're doing.
  4. You - Climber.
  5. As for you, stop the others from coming forward while I build the route.
  6. Oh, they're going off the other end now. Mine into that steel!
  7. Where's the one that went on ahead? Pause it again. There you are. Get ready...
  8. And... build over the gap!
  10. Watch the lead Lemming plummet into oblivion.
  11. Restart. Fume.
  12. Repeat fifty times.

And that's just at about the sixtieth level (out of a hundred). Further on, stages require superhuman pixel-perfect building and a large amount of luck, with the most difficult bits of levels placed thoughtfully right next to the exit so that you have to do the whole thing again if you mess them up.

I'd also like to mention the semi-sequel, which has one of the most appropriate titles ever. Oh No! More Lemmings. And it starts you off again with twenty more dead easy levels before springing the sadistic designers' minds on you and leaving you twitching in a corner.