Caveman_HD by Mobile 1UP icon

Caveman_HD ($3.99) by Mobile 1UP is very much like the classic Amiga game Lemmings, calling it a clone somehow doesn’t feel entirely accurate. The game is not similar; it’s the same game in a prehistoric loincloth.

There are many clones of the game that rocked the early 1990’s. It was one of the original “lead-them-out” puzzle games and you find elements of it in everything from World of Goo to Spirits.

If you never heard of Lemmings, but like this genre of puzzler, it’s time you were introduced. It’s an award-winning puzzler that has been ported to just about every gaming platform, and has had sequels and spin-offs galore. The fervor for this title has never died and the gameplay nicely fits each new technological advancement.

The object of this game, like the original, is to lead a specific number of Lemmings…, er cavemen to the exit.

You have a variety of tools to work with. You can turn cavemen into diggers, climbers, blockers, bashers, whatever it takes to guide the hapless followers to safety.

Caveman_HD by Mobile 1UP screenshot

I grabbed Caveman_HD the moment it launched last night and immediately noticed the first three boards were so identical to Lemmings, that I had to contact the developer, Mobile 1up, to see what was up. I learned there was a good reason Cave and Caveman_HD are so alike. The game was meant to be Lemmings.

Check out the iPhone preview trailer from last summer:

But Sony, wanting to keep the little critters for their own platforms issued a cease and desist order. You can read the details here.

So if Caveman seems authentic that’s because it is; the caveman artwork is just a skin over what the devs had hoped to be a licensed and true-to-the-original Lemming iOS (and webOS) game. Expect PC and Mac ports soon too.

So how did they do with the classic title? Well, I knew it was Lemmings within three seconds, so they are doing something right.

In fact, they are doing a lot right. They have adapted the game very well to the touchscreen and because the webOS version launched first, this release is rather well tested. After playing most of the night, I found no bugs, nor any levels on which my old tricks did not work.

But, the current price is a pre-release price. Note, this is not even version one. For now, not all of the levels are available, and only the easy mode (one of four planned difficulty levels) is up and running.

But that detracts not at all from the nostalgia. Check out the first level in action. Spoiler Alert: the solution to the level is shown:

On top of the extra levels and modes that are en-route to the App Store, I am hoping to see Game Center and multiplayer options too.

Caveman_HD by Mobile 1UP screenshot

But, I have been assured not only are these elements in the works, but special goodies that will please diehard fans will be trickling out in due time.

What started as a labor of love and yes, profit, from Mobile 1Up has become something of a crusade. They are putting 120 percent into the game now for many reasons, so I’m willing to risk the limitations of the prerelease and suggest you do too. I don’t know what the price point will be, but similar classic hits that port to iOS run from $4.99 to $9.99.

Whether Sony and Mobile 1up will settle, so we can see the cute creatures which inspired the original game on iOS or not, remains to be seen.

But, if you loved Lemmings or want a new (or old) challenge I’d suggest you grab this before the full version is released and the price jumps.

There is much work to do before it is complete, but this price is intended for those who can’t wait, and want to get their hands on as many of the classic challenges as possible now.

I’m glad I didn’t wait, but if you get it, think of it as a beta-plus. And, check out this forum to leave comments, speak to the devs, or find out more about what’s in store.

Even though Mobile1up has some proving to do once the full version hits the App Store, everything is in place, so far, for Caveman and Caveman_HD to join the ranks of the best classic game ports to iOS for 2011.

Want to give it a try for free? I have one promo code to give away. To win it tell me why you miss Lemmings, or why, if you are too young to miss it, you want to give the closest thing to it a try.

And, if you try this prerelease, please let me know what you think!

Contest Closes Friday, April 15 at 3:00 pm PDT. Good Luck!