App Reviewed on: new iPad
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Lemmings is, in this humble author's opinion, a game that deserves residence in the very upper echelons of the medium's long history. Guiding those little mindless critters to safety was a thing of beauty, a faultless mixture of strategy, puzzling, and general hilarity - you can't beat the exploding lemming with the countdown timer of doom. So when I see a game doing essentially what Lemmings all but mastered over 20 years ago, I'm happy to see that style of gameplay live on but there are also high standards to live up to. Bring on Bridge The Gap 2, then, which replaces lemmings with pirates and exploding lemmings with (sadly) TNT barrels.
The sequel is certainly a spruce up from the original. The neater presentation is what I notice first, particularly in the different environments of the various islands and the animations of the pirates themselves, although it still looks a little slapdash when they walk rather than climb over obstacles. The physics have also had an upgrade, and now it's easier to place with accuracy the barrels, boxes, and planks to help the pirates to their goal. There's also a greater diversity of content, from new abilities like the exploding barrels to diversionary mini-games, like digging for treasure along the level or trying to catch different bugs. The latter is surprisingly deep. In-game corresponds to real-life time (just as in games like Animal Crossing and Pokémon), and different bugs appear at different times. A particular bug, for example, may only be caught at night. Lemmings certainly didn't have any of that, and it also didn't have in-game purchases. Thankfully the gold that's purchasable can also be accumulated within the game with little problem.
While the physics work well and the different levels are designed quite cleverly, the play still fails to wholly satisfy, mainly because of the limited variety of things I can place in the level. This can sometimes make things feel a bit stale, and that staleness is only compounded by how slow play can feel. The fast-forward button, which Lemmings was famously the first to introduce, is far too slow in Bridge the Gap 2, and it can be quite tiresome to watch the pirates slowly trot across a level. It's especially tiresome and very frustrating when they finally near the end of a level only to then reveal a progress-stopping mistake I made, like misplacing a block slightly or leaving a barrel in a precarious spot. That means I have to restart the level entirely, and then wait for them to slowly trot over again. It's a minor misfire which sadly translates into long-winded play.
Maybe I'm being too precious about that, and maybe it's a bit much to compare the game to something as lofty as Lemmings. Still, it feels like there remains a good wealth of room for improvement in Bridge the Gap 2, even if the game remains competent enough to enjoy in small, patient doses. The game is presently littered with 'Coming Soon' signs, so hopefully the developer is not only committed to adding to what is already an impressive amount of content, but also to tweaking and continually improving a fun puzzle/strategy game with decent potential.