Computer Game #6: “Lemmings” (1991)
Computer Game #7: “Glider” (1990)
Little known fact, but in the late ’80s I worked on developing a comic strip called “Lemmings.” It was based loosely on the squirrels in my college paper strip “Potatohead U” and followed the adventures of a biology major who, while on a field trip, had saved a herd of lemmings from throwing themselves off a cliff and brought them back home to live with him on campus. Hilarity, the plan was, ensued. Or not — the strip got to the pitch phase. The lemmings I drew, however, were pretty damn cute, with big floppy hair that bounced when they walked. You can image my shock (and delight) then when, a few years later, a computer game came out for the Amiga staring lemmings with big floppy hair that bounced when they walked. I at least got the satisfaction that I might have been on the right path.
Lemmings was a huge smash, and quickly ported to PCs, Macs, and every platform available. In it, you guided your lemmings through vast underground caverns, using a limited number of tools to help them find the one way out of each level. If time ran out, your lemmings went nuclear — literally — blowing up the cave in a spectacularly cute explosion.
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I’ll keep harping on Steve Jobs’ failure to embrace games as a major selling point for the Machintosh, mostly because his lack of support ensured that Mac users rarely got to play the great computer games of the day (or, if they did, the ports came years later, long after interest and support in the titles had waned.) I’ll settle for the fact that so many people proved him wrong by designing brilliant games for the Mac in spite of Jobs’ attitude. One of these hits was Glider, a game where you played … a paper airplane. Gliding from room to room, trying to find an open window to escape, you could catch lifts on errant drafts from air ducts, fans, or heat from candles (don’t get too close or you’ll burst into flames!). It was simple, fun and highly addictive.
Glider was a big hit, with a huge fan base, and after its designer got the rights back some years later, he decided to release it to the public for free. So you too can play Glider right now, online, here.