Author Topic: My turn to give thoughts on the Lemmings 2 skills  (Read 4956 times)

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Offline Ste Woz Ere

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My turn to give thoughts on the Lemmings 2 skills
« on: March 06, 2022, 07:45:19 PM »
This almost seems like deja vu, but having done my own full L2 game, I am also going to post my thoughts on the skills. No rankings here though - instead I'm going to group them and discuss generally without any specific criteria, though still from a designer's point of view:

Major Mobility

This is the biggest category, so I shall begin here, with ascent:

Climber - it still does it's thing well, but I did struggle to use them in Polar due to the natural terrain discouraging the use of vertical walls (and I often went with another way of ascending that didn't require that). Many of the other lemming-separator skills are easier to set up, but you can still do a fair bit with this. (and containing them afterwards is still a puzzle in itself)
Rock Climber - pretty much fully supersedes it's ancestor and also has two of the best combos in the game (Shimmier and Parachuter), albeit at the cost of being harder to contain and prone to losing it's dangle animation if too many sprites are being used on a level. It also has a weird quirk, as it won't use the crawling glitch or climb over vertical arrows. (whereas a regular climber will)
Magno Boots - these are great to have, but very difficult to plan they cannot be stopped by ANYTHING except another skill use (which made one level a bit more fiddly than it should've been). Combos nicely with the other signature Space skills, though.

Onto the plethora of flying skills:

Superlem - nothing is mightier in the air until you realise that it's a bit too powerful and can lead to backroutes galore (which made me remove it from 2 levels). Fun to use though, and bonus points for not using the fan.
Icarus Wings - I was pleasantly surprised by this, as it proved to be highly flexible but also more controllable due to the low speed (no faster than a walker). It does suffer from being over-sensitive though, as do many fan skills.
Ballooner - another favourite of mine, particularly in Outdoor with another strong Parachuter combo. The height of the thing makes you tread carefully, and it's not too bad with the fan either.
Magic Carpet - unusual in several ways, particularly by being quite hard to stop...which led to some interesting designs. Not very flexible due to the fixed direction and fan trickery needed to operate it, and it's a bit unpredictable against vertical walls, too. (sometimes you can get it up a stomper tunnel, other times it'll glide down a wall and come off at a slight touch)
Hang Glider - awkward due to the generally slow fan response (especially when launching) and yet when the fan is blowing at full pelt it will shoot off upwards real quick. Like the carpet, the execution and fixed direction make it inflexible and less useful than the other fliers, though there are at least a couple of good puzzles to be made with it.
Jetpack - good and bad for the astronauts. Very difficult to control and especially to gain height with, though the fixed facing direction is useful here (unlike the carpet/glider). But what saves it from being the worst flying skill is the fact that it works very nicely for other non-flying purposes.

Coming down from the sky, we have the fall-breakers:

Parachuter - this is amazing, lots of puzzle potential here...especially when paired with the Rock Climber or Ballooner. It can even trigger off explosions, which leads to chaos (if bumping into walls weren't enough). Bit over-sensitive to the fan, but a minor flaw in this case. One of my favourite skills for designing and operating.
Slider - this also has lots of puzzling to go with the safe landings, in fact the awesome Shimmier combo and constant changing of direction by the lemming leads to a large amount of options. Another great skill for designing with. (just don't try to dangle off a builder bridge, as it needs 2+ pixels to do so)
Floater - the super-cali-brolly is left behind, as you can't do anything else with it except for the old Cascade trick from L1 (and even that isn't fully reliable, as it's possible for a lemming to go splat while you assign the skill). Especially problematic with the fixed 80x20 size limit in Classic, but even in a 20x80 Beach level there's no puzzle to be had.

Finally, we go splash:

Swimmer - water skills are not good for puzzles, but this is quite it's a permanent skill that gives you some options (being able to go across water multiple times is very handy). It's also quite novel to see lemmings constantly in the water and not drowning. (even allowed me to do a naughty thing in one level)
Surfer - this can be cool due to the fact you can turn it around and play with it (just don't leave him stationary for more than 2-3 secs), but not much else.
Kayaker - a one-trick pony...also annoying because there has to be a decent gap between multiple lemmings that need to paddle. (it's prone to failing if not, though it might depend on what stage of animation the kayak is at)
Skater - also a one-trick pony...except it's a permanent skill that only works in Polar. It does have one powerful use though, which is escaping the "Ice Timer" - a temporary containment area that takes advantage of the ice physics.*

* Basically, the lemmings will slip & slide their way very slowly across the ice (1 pixel at a time) - so smaller patches can be used to contain them for a while (very useful for race levels). Anything longer than 3-4 grid blocks and they'll take too long, which makes it back into a trap as normal.

Minor Mobility

This includes skills that provide a small effect. First we have propulsion:

Runner - it does have a nice amount going for it...speed, the little hop and the jumping combo - but I used up all the ideas I had for it in a single tribe, so that's where it stayed. (shame really, as it's a skill I use quite a bit IRL)
Jumper - the most-used skill in the original game (78/120 levels) and is always handy as a generic skill for speeding and cancelling other skills etc. but it's really just there for convenience.
Shimmier - does everything the Jumper does (including the Runner boost) but also crossing low ceilings, and has two of the best combos in the game (Rock Climber and Slider). Lots of puzzling and lots of convenience...without a doubt, one of the most important skills.
Hopper - total rubbish. If you're not using it for it's intended purpose (those obvious stepping stones), it's pretty much a Jumper with terrible range that keeps on going.

And now we have to deal with the useless skills:

Pole Vaulter - a complete gimmick with exactly 2 uses...vaulting up on top of a wall that needs a massive run-up area (which always says "this is the only place to vault a pole"), and cancelling other skills.
Roller - my favourite useless skill, as it's quite fun to play with. It has some subtle uses (including skill prevention) and I made some nice combos with it, although it's sometimes hard to click another skill on due to it's high speed. It does appear to be inconsistent when launching off something, but it actually depends on where the lemming is when you click it. (notably on builder bridges)
Skier - similar, but much more controllable due to it being slower...and I was surprised by how much I used it for various things. The infamous unreliability comes from trying to do ski jumps - on the flat or downhill it works fine.
Diver - everyone else's favourite useless skill. Doing the flop is quite funny, even on the flat it can go through traps, it's great for cancelling other skills and I did manage a few puzzles with it. (finding uses for useless skills is great)


Not much to go through here:

Blocker - only works in Classic and is awkward because of the difficulty in releasing them...which appears to be even harder when facing left instead of right. (most apparent on builder bridges)
Attractor - a neat idea for easy containment...but unreliable to the random delay of it taking effect, and the difficulty of releasing it when too close to the dancers. It's nice for grouping up lemmings to do certain puzzles, or holding a lemming in place for later use.

Major Construction

And now for the 3 most-used skills, plus one more:

Platformer - of the two bridging skills, I found myself using this more for just seemed to combo better with a lot of skills. It also covers a greater distance, so less time is lost and less are needed. Only snag is the lack of height gain (unless you spam them like I did in one level) so I often had to rely on terrain, on-level extras or other construction skills to rise up.
Builder - still one of the most important and versatile skills in the game, but it does take a lot of them to get anywhere (which sadly is discouraged due to the general dislike of builderfests in L1). There are some lovely combos to be had, though. Both skills were used in 5 tribes, but the Platformer edged it by 1 single level. (44 to 43)
Roper - this is powerful but can also be a bit unreliable. It's range seems to be a square rather than a circle, and while it's easily the best skill for going upwards it's also quite difficult to plan around (and ofc there's the infamous roper glitch on natural terrain). The limited range can be used to control it and create puzzles though, it combos very well with the Scooper in particular, and overall it was worthy of being used in 4 tribes (the only such skill).
Glue Pourer - bit awkward to use due to being entirely dependent on terrain unless you have a Builder around (hello space glue), but that can also lead to some interesting designs and puzzles. It also has another important use, too.

Minor Construction

These are the ones that just add a small bit of terrain or play a lesser role:

We'll start with trajectory-based stuff:

Thrower - only really used in that 1 Highland level in the original game, hence it's appearance in Highland here too. There's not a huge amount you can do with it, but the shape/size of the rock means that there are some puzzles to be had. (though sometimes you need quite a few of them)
Spearer - similar type of thing, but the spears are too thin for chaining them together...although this combined with the long length means that you never need loads of them (easier to execute). Overall it's a bit more limited than the Thrower, but I did manage to use it a surprising number of times.
Archer - this is one of my favourite skills in the entire game. Some will argue about the execution requirement...but if you can finish the notorious final level of Sports in the original game, then you've learned the skills to reliably place a vertical arrow. In general it can occasionally mess up like the Roper (though mostly reliable), but only gets difficult if you aim for a spot that's too high and too far away. I found so many uses for arrows across the 2 tribes it was in, definitely one of the most versatile in my book.

Moving onto the ground next:

Planter - this thing only got used once in the original game, and while it is definitely flawed (the facing direction matters a LOT), it does have some neat uses and combos. (in fact you can do a number of different things with it)
Sand Pourer - it doesn't look like much, but it is actually quite effective once you get used to designing with it. There are some great combos and puzzles to get with this, even though you sometimes need quite a lot of them. (having it in tribes without upwards construction really does make minor skills like this and the Archer shine)
Filler - the weakest of the pots. You can only really fill in pits and block up traps (which almost feels like a meme in Shadow), but I did manage some neat puzzles with it. (despite the fact it can take a lot of them to be effective)
Stacker - a good solid skill to have, enough to elevate it into 3 tribes (and the top 10 most-used in ToS, which also happens to be the 3-tribe club). Not just for containment, there are some good combos too...particularly with some of the worst skills and the on-level extras.

Major Destruction

This is the other big category, which covers all the tunnelling skills:

Basher - a staple skill that does well as it always does. Can't really say much else (because I'm not an expert on advanced tricks/glitches), but there's always room for a tunneller like this. (also did some nice combos in Egyptian)
Fencer - does the same thing but with a slight upwards angle (which does have puzzle potential) and is less sensitive to stopping due to lack of terrain (which means you can also start it with less terrain in front of you). The first bit of the tunnel is instant (nice for getting rid of small blocks/stacks) and it combos nicely with the Miner in particular.
Club Basher - not much more than a basher that just carves out a bigger tunnel more slowly, but the massive swing can have a massive effect on puzzles. It's decision-making is a bit wonky for deciding when to stop, but this also depends on the wonkiness of the terrain.

Miner - always one of the most important skills due to it's slope (thankfully there wasn't an L2 for Win95 to replace it with steps) although tbh I did struggle to do much in the way of complicated tasks with it. Maybe because I'm not that classic-minded (there's only so many times you can send a lemming round the level to mine down through a big block), but I found myself using the Scooper more for big tunnelling tasks and the Miner more for small precision tasks. Doesn't take away from the usefulness or versatility of the skill though.
Scooper - not a huge fan due to the tunnel being steps instead of a slope, but it got into 3 tribes due to theming (soil, sand, snow) and it also creates a wider opening which allows it to go through floors much better than a miner. Doesn't play well with classic skills, but with the Roper it's rather good - combined with the steeper angle (which is the main thing to like) it takes up a lot less room than a miner, massively increasing the different types/sizes of areas it was usable in.

Digger - vertical tunnelling is a bit less useful in L2, but this is still a solid pick...particularly when climbers are around. It's still possible to do some nice puzzles with it, though it's traditional containment niche is gone without directional selection.
Stomper - identical except for being twice as fast and more prone to stopping due to lack of terrain...sometimes you want the speed, but most of the time you want the precision of a digger. In other words it's not worth bothering with unless you're trying to use every skill. (you can exploit the fact that it does 2 pixels at a time instead of 1, though)

Twister - the Marmite of all L2 skills. I personally quite like it, simply because the tunnel-anywhere-you-want nature of it leads to some good puzzles and combos. It's just a shame it's so hard to control, to the point where everyone gives up in the best I could do was give out plenty of spares and plenty of room. (except in the odd case where having spares would break the level)

Minor Destruction

This section covers limited-range skills:

Laser Blaster - technically a tunnelling skill, but it has a limited range and can't really be used like the others so it gets classed as a minor. It is possible to go up the tunnel with certain skills (I used it this way in both it's tribes) and I was particularly pleased with one Circus level that used it in a more complex way, but most of the time it's just for freeing the crowd from underneath.
Flamethrower - a decent short-range blaster, and is unique because it's instant (this can be good or bad). It sometimes requires a bit of precision when linking it up with bridges or other tunnels (due to the cone-like shape of the hole it makes) but on the whole it blows all hot and no cold.

Finally, we reach the explosions:

Bomber - I was quite surprised by is incredibly versatile. You can use it to tunnel across, down and anywhere in between...and without the knockback of the other explosion skills (instead he gets flung up and lands facing the same way). You do need a lot of them to tunnel like this (certainly when I used it this way in Shadow) but low skill counts were not a limitation I wanted to use.
Bazooka - this is limited to going only across and slightly up (apart from two novelty levels I made), so it's only standout feature is blowing holes in walls from far away...which is nice for avoiding the knockback and creating a step for containment.
Mortar - this is a bit better as you can go diagonally upwards, rescue from below and there's also some sneaky less obvious puzzle uses.
Exploder - this is the worst by far. You can't use it to fall-bomb in Classic (it's bugged) and ofc it kills a lemming. I did manage to use it in a couple of interesting ways, but it's no surprise that it's the least-used skill in ToS. (only 5 levels)


Finally, we come to the interactive features on the levels themselves. These exist purely as gimmicks in the original game, but I went out of my way to create actual puzzles with them. As a result, I counted them as extra skills and imposed the same conditions on usage. Starting with the launchers:

Cannon - the best of the launchers for creating puzzles IMO, due to the decent trajectory. Fire rate is a bit slow, which often led me to use multiple trapdoors. (in order to reduce the number of lemmings using it)
Catapult - a bit unwieldy and has an even slower fire rate, but they do fling a hell of a long way. (which formed the main principle for the final Medieval level)
Dinosaur - has a much faster fire rate but a much lower trajectory...consequently I wasn't able to get as much puzzle out of them compared to the bigger launchers. Facing direction is also retained (unlike the above), which adds another problem to solve.
Flicker - aka that thing that looks like a green snail but isn't (consequently I didn't discover it until I had much of Outdoor completed, which led to me shoehorning it into a couple of levels). Same fire rate and trajectory as the dino, but with the added problem of having to drop the lemmings onto it from above (or bridge onto it from the side) in order to fire it...although this does avoid the dino's problem with facing direction.

And then the rest:

Steam Jet - I found these to be the most interesting extras, despite that godawful first Sports level in the original game doing it's best to put everyone off (by being stupid and chaining them). Not only is there a choice of all 4 directions, you also have the option of valves to turn them on/off...which is a great way to stop backroutes (at the expense of saying "this is the correct route") and you can even make puzzles with them.
Trampoline - they're a bit tricky sometimes (the part of the trampoline you land on determines the bounce) but it's a good way to force the lemmings to spread out, along with fall-breaking and some limited puzzles. (I'm particularly proud of 2 levels where I did something weird with them)
Teleporter - does as you'd expect, and there's some good puzzles to be had on the facing direction when going in. Not to mention they can take you anywhere, including places that nothing else can reach.

Chain swingers are completely useless, so I took the piss and gave them a scenery.
(they are actually solid objects, but using them as platforms in the playable area can cause confusion)

So there we have it. I really enjoyed making this pack, and getting the most out of each skill. It's great that the pack turned out so differently to QFK2 despite the main concept being the same (which I still feel a little bit bad about), and I hope to see more packs in the future. (along with L2Player hopefully doing what NL did for L1)
Tribes of Steel - a whole new Lemmings 2 game! (120-level pack)
Currently a WIP - all tribes are complete, testing and feedback is welcome!

Offline 607

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Re: My turn to give thoughts on the Lemmings 2 skills
« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2022, 01:24:59 PM »
[Runner is not used much] (shame really, as it's a skill I use quite a bit IRL)
Did not see this coming. :laugh:

Very interesting post! I have not yet finished reading it and have to go now, but I'm intending to get back to it later.