Casual Game: Lemmings turns 30 today

The original version of Lemmings was released on the Amiga computer on February 14, 1991, making it thirty years old today.  It would later be released on almost every platform and operating system in the 1990s, and be followed my many sequels and special edition version.  Lemmings was created by three programmers, David Jones, Russell Kay, and Mike Dailly.  DMA Design, which would later become RockStar North Limited, the UK division of RockStar games.

It quickly became popular and sold upwards of 20 million copies over it’s life.  It’s a wonderful combination of casual gaming and puzzle solving, and can be a relaxation or a frantic paced game, a choice that the player can make.  It was on millions of computers in the early 1990s like DOOM, but if any game resembles it most closely, it would be Angry Birds.

Celebrations as the iconic Lemmings video game turns 30

From a humble beginning the game by DMA Design would go on to to sell around 20 million copies worldwide and helped launch Dundee’s now-famous computer games industry.

Creators, gamers and Lemmings lovers have shared their favourite memories of the iconic platform adventure as it celebrated its 30th birthday.

Originally developed by DMA Design, which was originally based near Seabraes on Dundee’s Perth Road, Lemmings was published by Psygnosis for the Amiga in 1991 and later developed for a number of other platforms.

The game was programmed by Mike Dailly, Dave Jones and Russell Kay and was inspired by a simple animation that Dailly created while experimenting.

Speaking on the 30th anniversary he said: “One of my many favourite Lemmings moments was seeing a Lemming walk across a level for the first time in Russell Kay’s demo. That’s when I thought we all had something.

[. . .]

“My biggest surprise with the game is how loved the music has been. To me it’s always been functional, and slightly annoying. But to many, it’s the sound of their childhood. Never thought that would have happened…

“This game helped change my life, and brought me more joy over the many years than I could have possibly imagined.”

Despite the games success of the past three decades fellow original programmer Russell Kay still sometimes thinks it’s amazing the Lemmings game saw light at all.

“It was actually rejected by almost everyone we showed it to, to start off with,” said Russell, 51, a former pupil of Craigie High School who is now chief technology officer at Yo Yo Games in Dundee.

Here’s a complete playthrough of the game.  Now you can see how to solve all those levels you could never finish.  I know the feeling.


  1. says

    Lemmings currently exists in a version for tablets (and maybe phones?). The contemporary edition preserves the “save as many as you can” premise, but exchanges the very horizontal layout of the original edition for a more vertical layout that fits on one screen.