The Lost Vikings FI

SNES A Day 175: The Lost Vikings

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Approximate Release Date: April 29, 1993
Genre: Puzzle/action
Developer: Silicon & Synapse
Publisher: Interplay Entertainment

The Lost Vikings is most notable for being Blizzard Entertainment’s first great game developed in-house.

The Lost Vikings is experiencing quite the resurgence in Blizzard’s latest games. The vikings are part of a quest in World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor and are playable heroes in Heroes of the Storm. This reverence makes sense; back when the company was Silicon & Synapse, they mostly ported games to the Amiga and other personal computers of the time. It wasn’t until 1992’s release of RPM Racing that the company set off on its own.

The results were discouraging. RPM Racing is not a good game.

All of that makes The Lost Vikings more impressive. There’s a measure of intangible confidence here that shouldn’t exist from a developer with such sketchy history, especially when making a game that combines the puzzle, action, and platforming genres. It’s simple in execution, though; you control three vikings with their own unique skills. One can use a shield to protect himself and everything behind him, one can use a sword or bow to vanquish enemies and hit switches, and the third can run and jump. The shoulder buttons let you swap between the vikings to let you overcome puzzles and find the stage exits.

It’s easy to wrap your mind around, and most of the challenge comes from combining the way these fellas interact with the environment with each other to reach the exit. For example, the shield viking can block enemies and leave them open to be safely shot by the viking with the bow and arrow. He can also raise his shield and let the viking who can jump use the shield as a platform. Or you can just have him use his shield to float down long drops. The number of options you have in The Lost Vikings are even bolstered by items you can find, but it never becomes overwhelming.

The worst part of The Lost Vikings is shared with most every stage-based puzzle game. There’s nothing more annoying than when you know exactly how the solve a stage’s puzzle a dozen or two steps ahead of where you are. It’s made worse here because every action you have to do three times – once for each viking – and there’s no button to automate anything. It would have been awesome if there was a button that would have your vikings walk to you. That way you didn’t have to select each viking and walk them to the elevator or exit individually.

That’s a minor complaint, though. The Lost Vikings is a challenging game filled with humor that is still worth playing today. There’s even a two-player mode!

Tomorrow: The world needs more fighting games, so we have Doomsday Warrior to look forward to.

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