THE LOST VIKINGS
By Ferry "Sadhonker" Adams on February 27, 2015
Another Friday, another Big Red Timemachine. And what do we have in store for you today? Well, after almost wrecking part of the eco system in 1997, our crew was called home for a short vacation, while the maintenance team hurried to install a new waste disposal unit, seeing as how the old one was wrecked in the infamous curry-incident. Due to the extensive damage to the drainage system however, this seemed to be no quick fix. Our timemachine would be in repairs for at least 5 weeks, because our maintenance crew had to wait for a new Bosar-plunger and a replacement kit for the vacuum vortex enhancer 2000. As you may or may not know, these are highly specialized parts , and replacing them is a costly affair, both in time and in money. Our poor timemachine seemed doomed to stay where it was...
Luckily for the team, I had a brilliant idea. I headed for the DumeeGamer woodshop and ordered a custom made, 260 gallon wooden bucket. See, that's why I'm in charge; cheap, fast solutions to get this show on the road. Our brave crew however, didn't seem all that pleased with my custom solution and were a wee bit angry with yours truly. But, being the resourceful man I am, I managed to sway them with a box of air-fresheners and the solemn promise that when the bucket was full, they had my approval, nay, my blessing to beat up the numbskull who wrecked our beautiful waste disposal unit in the first place, and drown him in said bucket. Suffice to say, I believe that pretty soon there will be a job opening on our time travelling crew... Interested, anyone?
So off they went! And this time they were heading for 1992. A fun year: Euro Disney and Jurassic Park opened their respective doors, and Microsoft opened its...well...windows. Windows 3.1, that is! And, most important to us, Silicone & Synapse (Now known as Blizzard Entertainment) released a fantastic game with not one, not two, but THREE protagonists. And they didn't just pick any old protagonists, but they went all out and got real Vikings! Lost Vikings, more to the point (see what I did there?). The Lost Vikings was originally released for our beloved SNES, but was also released for the Amiga, Amiga CD32, PC, Sega Megadrive and the Sega Genesis the following year.
At first glance, The Lost Vikings is not really that different from other games of the era; colorful action-platformers with nice graphics and fun soundtracks. But what made this particular game stand out was its original approach to this already crowded genre. While other games let you control one character throughout the entire game, Silicone & Synapse devised a way for players to control all three characters over the course of any given stage. You were able to switch back and forth between the three playable characters, and make use of their special abilities to complete the stage at hand. When all three of your Vikings were present at the exit, you'd successfully completed that stage and moved on to the next. Each completed stage would reward you with a password, so when you stopped playing, you could always pick up where you left off. This all might seem weird to the younger generation of gamers out there, but you have to remember; this was common practice back then. This was during the harsh and cold pre-savegame depression...
Before we go into any further detail, I believe introductions are in order. So world, meet the guys: Erik the Swift, Baleog the Fierce and Olaf the Stout. Erik can run like the wind and bash obstacles with his helmet, crushing everything in his path. Baleog is the weapons master and wields a mighty sword. He also makes good use of his bow, defeating enemies or flicking those pesky, unreachable switches. Olaf has a powerful shield, that blocks any incoming attacks, and renders attackers harmless. When he lifts the shield above his head, he can glide over large gaps or down narrow crevices. In addition, Erik can stand on Olaf's shield and subsequently reach higher ledges or platforms, opening up a whole new route. And guys, meet... eehm...nevermind. Now, I would introduce the rest of the world to the guys, but I just remembered there are too many of you out there and I can't really be bothered, so there!
Back to our story; Erik, Baleog and Olaf wake up one day and go about their Viking business like they would on any given day. But today is going to be a little different; Our three comrades are kidnapped from their village by Tomator, an evil alien emperor who wants to add our friends to his ever expanding inter-galactic zoo. Our tenacious threesome however, don't like being kidnapped and start to wreak havoc on Tomator's ship. They eventually come across a time vortex and decide that jumping in might be their best chance of getting home. Although they manage to get off Tomator's ship, they end up in different points in time throughout history. Each different time-zone has its own enemies, look and feel. This (among other things) makes The Lost Vikings such a fun game to play!
In The Lost Vikings, the main objective in every stage is, as mentioned before, to safely guide all three Vikings to the exit and continue on to the next stage. This sounds easier than it actually is. Hordes of enemies, deadly traps and maze-like environments put our friends abilities to the test. Don't worry if one of your Vikings dies, by the way. The Lost Vikings features a limitless retry option. So whether Erik gets mangled by an aggressive dinosaur, Baleog get's sat on by an enormous snail or Olaf falls into a fiery spiked pit, you can just retry the stage to your heart's content. Keep in mind though that you cannot save at random point during the stage, so retrying means replaying the entire stage. So if one of your Viking dies right at the end of a stage on the fortieth try, it may want to make you eat your controller or keyboard.
Another thing Silicone & Synapse did very well was the use of jokes and funny dialog during the course of the game, which were presented through the means of cartoon text balloons at the end of every stage and actually kept the story going. Package this together with a fantastic art style and jolly soundtrack and you've got yourself a winner! This is exactly what Silicone & Synapse had at the time: a winner. The puzzle element, puns, jokes, graphics, soundtrack and overall lovability of the characters make The Lost Vikings a rare gem in the crown of platform gaming.
So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. A fantastically fun game filled with friends, fiends and fascinating features. Lost Viking remains a game that deserves to be played. So what are you waiting for?! Put on your helmet, grab your sword and shield and let's make Tomatorketchup!
THE LOST VIKINGS
Silicone & Synapse (Now: Blizzard Entertainment)