Throughout the years I’ve been asked what was my most memorable game I’ve played was and as always I’ve answered the question with ease, DMA Designs Lemmings. While a huge fan of the series I don’t pretend to be an expert in the game but I know some general facts, for example Lemmings was developed in the Scottish city of Dundee, which is only 20 odd miles away from where I was born and raised. Plus and most importantly Lemmings is pretty much one of the most ported video games ever, which brings us to our topic on hand.
A pretty hardcore fan of Lemmings, Justin Castle has created a book called, Lemmings – The Ports. Originally Castle Books was looking towards Kickstarter to gather funding for the book which would have launched this year but last December (2014) Justin Castle changed his mind and made Lemmings – The Ports available on PDF and as a physical book.
Before I get in to my opinions of the book, let me tell you some details of the book. Lemmings – The Ports, is a 304 page paperback which contains interviews with Mike Dailly, Steve Hammond and Russell Kay who were part of the original team that created Lemmings, along with composer Tim Wright who worked for Psygnosis. You will also see detailed information, screenshots and box art for every official and unofficial port of Lemmings.
First receiving the book my face lit up with glee, the glossy cover is jam packed with boxed Lemmings games and the badge at the bottom which marks the 25th anniversary of the game series (can’t believe it’s been that long!). Opening the book you are welcomed by the interview with 3 of the original team members of DMA Design and Tim Wright. The interview was interesting and a joy to read, especially hearing the guys opinions on the future of the series. Moving on we finally start getting in to the information of the ports.
Going further into the book I noticed the screenshots and level layouts were quite small and made it hard to get any details from them. Of course this will come down to the author’s choice of dimensions for the book and only having so much space to add images and text. It was great to see Justin went to great lengths to play every port available, when he gave his opinion on each game it was short and straight to the point. With the massive amounts of ports the famous series has it would have been an enormous task to write anything more than a few words he gave but I was extremely grateful with all the technical specifications and review scores he added with each game.
While I knew Lemmings was ported to a vast number of systems, I really didn’t think it was as many that were listed. Plus hearing some of the technical issues when porting the game was magnificent to hear especially when it came multiplayer on PC.
I really only had a few issues with the book, most only being minor nags. As I mentioned before the images were quite small and some weren’t the best of quality and I noticed some grammatical issues but nothing to spoil the fun I had reading the book. Plus I would like to mention that the book was a passion project and those minor problems shouldn’t reflect on Justin Castle and the overall quality of the book. Probably the biggest issue was the price, sitting in at £35 the book is probably one of the most expensive paperbacks in its class, especially when you compare it to Bitmap Books, Visual Compendiums and Read Only Memory’s Sega Mega Drive Collected Works. Castle Books does offer a PDF version of the book a book like this deserves to be physical and sitting on your coffee table.
Overall Lemmings – The Ports is a must have for any Lemmings fan. I really couldn’t put the book down and loved every detail the author had to say about the series along with the interviews. The price may put off future customers but I personally thought Justin Castle did an outstanding job, well done sir!
The book in PDF format costs £8/$12 or Physical copies and can be purchased from (Castle Books)
Retro head and key holder of RVG.