Lemmings 2 was not quite as popular as Lemmings was, nor was it ported to as many platforms. In spite of all this, it was well received and considered by many as a worthy sequel.
The gameplay in Lemmings 2 differs from the original in the following ways:
As mentioned before, there are many more (51 in total) skills available in the game, although no more than eight are available in each level. Some of the skills are similar to the original ones (like digging and building variants), others are all new (several flying skills, for example). One skill, the "attractor", will cause the lemming to play a musical instrument and have nearby lemmings stop walking to do a dance. The instrument and dances they do vary by tribe.
A practice mode has also been added. In this mode, any type of skill available can be selected for the player to experiment with. There is a choice of four different practice levels.
Each tribe's levels can be started at any time, and progress can be saved from the main menu. The player starts out with 60 lemmings for each tribe, but only one lemming needs to make it to an exit in order to progress to next level. The amount saved will then be the amount left in the next level. As some levels may require several lemmings to complete, the player might have to replay an earlier level to save more lemmings for the following ones if they realize they do not have enough.
The player will be rewarded with a bronze, silver or gold medal, depending on how many lemmings are saved in the level. This will also dictate the type of the talisman part received once all the tribe's levels are completed. To watch the outro and credits, all golden talisman parts need to be won, as well as rescuing at least 20 lemmings from each tribe.
A new fast forward button and fan button have been added to the controls. The fast forward replaces the release rate button in the original game, which would let you release more lemmings at a time. Now the whole game is sped up, so you can skip longer waiting times. The fan button turns the cursor into a fan, which is used to push around any flying lemmings or to affect wind-powered elements.
Smaller additions include:
The various skills that the Lemmings are given can be broken into three different classes, referred to here as permanent, continuous, and temporary skills.
The permanent skills are irreversible enhancements to the behaviour of a lemming, staying with the lemming until the end of the level. When a lemming is given a permanent skill, their hair and shirt colours are swapped to make them easier to identify. An example of a permanent skill is the runner, which makes the selected lemming run for the rest of the level, and jump over small gaps.
Continuous skills are those that a lemming will continue doing until it is ordered to do something else, encounters an obstacle, or reaches the end of the appropriate terrain. An example of a continuous skill is the fencer, which gives the selected lemming a small sword, and enables it to dig a tunnel on a slight upward slant until there is no more dirt, or until the sword hits something more solid than dirt.
Temporary skills are carried out until given another order, just like continuous skills, but also have an upper limit on how long the lemming will keep doing the skill. This may be due to a lemming running out of materials, or simply because there is a time limit on how long the skill can be used for. An example of a temporary skill is the laser blaster, which allows a lemming to make a vertical tunnel slowly blasting upwards. The laser beam has a long but limited range, and is only activated for a limited time.
An alternative (and overlapping) grouping of skills can be made in terms of what they do to the surrounding environment. There are building skills, which add bits that other lemmings can walk over (e.g. planter, filler), removal skills, which remove pieces of ground (e.g. bazooka, twister), movement skills, which alter the way a lemming moves through its environment (e.g. roller, diver), shooting skills, which cause a lemming to fire a projectile (e.g. archer, bazooka), and wind skills, which cause the lemming to be influenced by the fan in some way (e.g. icarus wings, twister).
The music and dance style of the tribes also reflect the nature of the tribes. The background music from the sports tribe has a very vibrant, bouncy beat, and the entertainer from the medieval tribe plays a few notes on a lute.
Methods of entry and exit also differ between tribes. The entrances are usually in the form of trapdoors with two flaps that drop down, but can differ a bit from this — there is an upturned barrel used by the highland lemmings, and a dragon's head that is used by the medieval tribe. Lemmings from the circus tribe carry out a bouncing turn before heading off into the next level, while Lemmings from the space tribe float away behind a planet.