|The Lost Vikings|
|Platforms||SNES, Genesis, GBA, DOS, Amiga|
|MtAMinutes to Action||6|
|Score||6 Gameplay: 7
Fun Factor: 6
|Buy from Amazon|
The Lost Vikings was released in 1992 and was one of Silicon & Synapse's first games. Never heard of them? They are now known as Blizzard Entertainment, the developer of many, many good games that end in Craft. Anyways, The Lost Vikings was released on the Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, and various other systems throughout the years, and gives gamers nowadays a really interesting look at the early history of Blizzard. The game itself can be described as a puzzle platformer, where you have to use the different abilities of three Vikings to solve puzzles, defeat enemies, and progress through the game's levels. My minute-by-minute update should help describe the game better. I will be playing just the first hour of the Super Nintendo version of The Lost Vikings, so let's get right to it.
In case you're a World of Warcraft veteran, you may recognize the three Vikings: Erik the Swift, Olaf the Stout, and Baleog the Fierce. They all make a cameo appearance in Uldaman, an ancient dwarven complex that serves as a mid-level dungeon. If you play as a Horde character you can even kill them for some unique items!
(minutes are in bold)
00 - I select New Game and the first hour of The Lost Vikings begins. Quick note, what's up with this hip-hop soundtrack? A small, snow-covered village appears and Erik the Swift introduces himself, he can run like the wind and jump high. He's gotta go meet his friends Baleog and Olaf for some hunting.
01 - Erik says goodbye to his Viking wife and kids and runs off. Olaf the Stout comes out of his house, he can block anything with his shield.
02 - And finally Baleog the Fierce appears, he is the toughest of them all.
03 - Our hairy friends run around and show off their skills. It's kind of like a tutorial that I can't play.
04 - After running far enough right, the Vikings arrive back at their village. Small world. Erik foreshadows a bit saying he hopes he never has to leave his village...
05 - Later that night... Oh geez! Our heroes are getting sucked out of their homes by a giant spacecraft! That didn't take long. At least they didn't destroy the village.
06 - I now have control of Erik on the ship. Time to find my friends.
08 - Well that was a simple enough level, the L and R buttons allow me to take control of a different Viking and guide them to the exit. Hey, a password... GR8T.
09 - In the next level I approach a friendly alien who tells me I need to destroy the ship's computer. Erik doesn't believe this is a ship.
11 - Baleog seems the most useful, being able to kill enemies and all. I find some bombs with him and have to locate the place to plant them.
13 - I take an elevator downstairs and plant the bombs, kaboom!
14 - I guide all three Vikings into a gravity lift and shoot the switch, up we go! Ouch, Baleog gets shot twice in the back by a laser, I need to use Olaf to block the shots.
16 - Wow, a lot longer level than I thought, but since you basically have to go through it three times, it seems longer than it is. Password TLPT.
17 - I use Erik's hard noggin to knock out a wall.
18 - I send all three Vikings through a teleporter, these guys are definitely out of their element here. Hey, a door with a red keyhole, I wonder what color key I'll need to open it.
19 - Another alien tells me that someone brought us here to display like animals in a zoo. Creepy, but kind of makes sense.
21 - The next puzzle has me using Erik to jump on Olaf's shield to reach higher heights.
22 - Along with a yellow key I pick up a device that kills every bad guy in the area. The only problem is that I used it way too early... the next area has three laser toting nasties. Whoops. Olaf's shield plus Baleog's bow and arrow should be enough though.
23 - Another level finished, another password: GRND.
25 - Erik's long jump finally comes in handy as I leap over some spinning spikes!
26 - Oh crap, Olaf just got killed! He got thrown from a gravity lift into some nasty electrical current! What if I need him? Oh man, Baleog just died too. And Erik... tough spot.
27 - The game over screen features a Viking ship on fire, pretty sweet actually. I continue and our heroes are sent back to earth via lightning bolts.
30 - I'm replaying the level and back where I was before.
32 - Phew, I made it this time. I had to grab some special anti-gravity boots (or magnetized) and I was able to get past the gravity lifts then with Erik. Turning them off was a snap and then I took our trio into some kind of portal. Hey, is that the Spore logo?
33 - Woah, Mode 7 graphics! Next password is LLM0. Our friends are now in some sort of prehistoric land...
34 - I guess Vikings can't swim... Erik is dead and I can't proceed. I suicide Olaf and Baleog. The enemies here are stronger, take two hits to go down instead of one!
38 - The game is requiring a lot more preparation to fight enemies, basically setting up Olaf to block projectiles, getting Erik out of the way, and shooting them down with Baleog.
40 - After every level the Vikings talk a bit about what just happened, nice little bit of writing to flesh out some shallow characters there. New password is FL0T.
42 - Geez, now instead of dealing with deadly water I have to deal with deadly lava. There's a particularly nasty portion right now where I have to blindly fall and dodge platforms of lava. Evil! Luckily I only have to do it once with Erik.
43 - Next challenge is a rolling blue monster, Olaf to the rescue!
47 - I'm starting to realize that The Lost Vikings is much more of a puzzle game than a platformer. It's definitely requiring more and more strategy as the game progresses.
48 - Next level's password is TRSS.
51 - The next level is pretty big, full of trees and lots of water. This is a predicament considering Erik is the only one that can jump... but I use this to my advantage and have him explore the whole level, including finding the exits. Too bad I need to get all the Vikings there to win.
53 - I find the blue key in the upper right corner and use that on the bridge. I haven't even used Olaf or Baleog yet.
54 - Erik gets killed by a rogue snail shooting spit. You got to be kidding me!
56 - Long, tough level, but we make it. The Vikings even make a joke saying they need one of those waterfalls that float in mid-air back at home! The next password is PRHS.
60 - Well, in the last minute I discover the secret of the purple cave level: you have to shoot spikes with Baleog's arrow onto the deadly lava so you can guide Olaf and Baleog over it! Nice! But that's it for The Lost Vikings' first hour.
Minutes to Action: 6
It took me about 45 minutes to realize that The Lost Vikings is much more of a puzzle game than anything else, and I think this game really requires that mentality. Often I would find myself thinking that I can just take Erik and jump over all the enemies and pits and reach the exit quickly, but the goal is to also navigate Olaf and Baleog there too, typically a much more difficult task. The game throws a wide variety of challenges at you within the first hour and expects you to adapt and learn quickly. I think the game suffers from some odd quirks though like if you jump (or fall from) too high you take damage, this makes sense usually, but the fall distance is not very forgiving. Also, most of the enemies I encountered would quickly defeat me if I didn't have Olaf around to block their path or projectiles. This is a puzzle game that takes a lot of preparation and experimentation, kind of similar to Lemmings but with more direct control.
Fun Factor: 6
The Lost Vikings was pretty fun, until you started dying. I'm pretty sure you need all three Vikings to beat a level, so if one dies, for any reason, you're screwed. Since the game does take a lot of experimenting, I died quite a bit and restarting a level can take about a minute, not to mention the time it will take to get back to where you were before. I think the game has a lot of great ideas but they're executed in a way that can be frustrating at times. Completing a level though makes you feel like you really accomplished something, especially the later ones I played where the stages seemed HUGE!
Graphics and Sound: 6
The Lost Vikings uses relatively simple sprites but the animations are well drawn and add to the game's uniqueness. I found it kind of odd though that both Olaf and Baleog wear green, it would seem to make more sense to maybe draw one in blue so they're more distinctive and easier to pick out on the fly. I think Blizzard made some excellent color palette choices too, and some scenes like the Game Over scene are really beautiful.
Not much of an actual story present in The Lost Vikings, but I do like its quirkiness. Too much of a story for a game like this would be a bad thing so Blizzard made the right decision to introduce the three characters with a few lines and then move on. Besides our three heroes, about the only other thing going on is Tomator, the leader of the Croutonian empire. He's captured our trio to represent the human race in his inter-galactic zoo, a noble cause if you ask me.
The Lost Vikings is kind of a hybrid puzzle game, similar to Portal in where you don't realize you're playing a puzzle game until you stop and think about it. That is definitely a good thing and both of these games are examples that developers should look at. The Lost Vikings' first hour is not necessarily tough, but it punishes you harshly for small mistakes made or chances taken. Your Vikings dying is an unfortunate reminder that you are playing a puzzle game in a platformer environment; you still have to deal with lava and deadly water and nasty electricity when trying to work out which Viking to control. I believe the first hour would have been better if Blizzard would have focused more on the puzzles early on and less on the platforming aspects. All around though, a decent first hour and a promising experience ahead. Blizzard's pre-Warcraft era is really quite interesting.