The Lost Vikings (SNES) review
"Vikings were known for a lot of things such as farming, trading, and exploring, but the trait they are best known for was their brutality. They were fierce warriors that were feared by almost everyone due to their unpredictable raids and Pagan beliefs (the beliefs weren’t popular at the time in an almost entirely Christian Europe). Since videogames that contain a lot of hack and slash action always seemed to be selling very well, I am very surprised that there are very few games, if any that s..."
Vikings were known for a lot of things such as farming, trading, and exploring, but the trait they are best known for was their brutality. They were fierce warriors that were feared by almost everyone due to their unpredictable raids and Pagan beliefs (the beliefs weren’t popular at the time in an almost entirely Christian Europe). Since videogames that contain a lot of hack and slash action always seemed to be selling very well, I am very surprised that there are very few games, if any that star Vikings.
In 1992 Silicon and Synapse (now known as Blizzard) developed The Lost Vikings, but it is not at all what we expected it to be. The game’s protagonists are three Vikings, but there is no hack and slash action or anything else we would expect from Vikings. There is still plenty of action, but The Lost Vikings is really a puzzle game. This peculiar concept is extremely effective and makes it one of the most enjoyable and unique games for the SNES.
The Lost Vikings’ plot is just as wacky as the concept. Three Vikings by the names of Erik the Red, Baelog the Swift, and Olaf the Stout were abducted one night while hunting for dinner. Tomator, the alien who abducted the Vikings plans to use them as attractions in his zoo. Unsatisfied with their animal-like roles, the Vikings decide to escape and return home. Unfortunately their home is not across the street from the zoo, so the Vikings must travel through several different time periods in order to return home so they can go back to slaughtering the innocent, or eat more food (probably the latter).
The Lost Vikings consists of nearly forty levels filled with enough puzzles, obstacles, and enemies to prevent one Viking from being able to get home alone. The three Vikings must make it to the exit of each level together, and by doing so they must work as a team. Erik has no means of attacking or defending but is the only Viking that can jump. He is also capable of running very fast and destroying most blocks that stand in the way. Baelog is the warrior; he is equipped with a sword and a bow and arrows but doesn’t have the athletic ability of Erik. Olaf is also slow and has no means of attacking, but is equipped with a shield that he can use to defend against almost anything. He can also use it as a parachute or a stool for Erik to jump off of.
The creativity involved is what makes The Lost Vikings so awesome. All of the abilities I just mentioned are put to spectacular use and no Viking seems to overpower the other two. Baelog might initially seem like the best Viking since he’s the one equipped with offensive weapons, but that’s not true. You can only control one character at a time and switch whenever you want, and if you want to succeed you must you must utilize each Viking’s abilities to the fullest. For example, lets say a key is located on top of a platform that only Erik can reach by jumping. When you bring Erik over to retrieve the key your progress is halted by an enemy that he can’t harm. Now you must bring Baelog over to defeat the enemies so Erik can safely get the key. Other times there might be something shooting fireballs (or whatever) at you that Erik and Baelog can’t get past without taking damage. Luckily Olaf is equipped with his shield to fend the fireballs away from the Vikings, allowing them to pass safely. This may sound simple, but the puzzles will get a lot harder and more involved. It is a blast figuring them out and it makes you feel great once you have accomplished something.
The Lost Vikings consists of six stages that are made up of 4-7 levels each. The stages are very unique and represent different time periods, ranging from thousands of years ago to the future (a pretty strange way to get back home if you ask me). The Vikings will travel through the prehistoric times, the Egyptian desert, a workshop, a spaceship, and more. Each world is portrayed perfectly, and they all present exciting, new challenges. You begin on a spaceship, which acts as the perfect tutorial stage. The prehistoric world features many tough enemies, such as blue dinosaurs, giant hedgehogs, and mucus-spitting snails. The Egyptian also features tough enemies, but puts the main focus on other challenging aspects, such as avoiding spikes and fireball-shooting statues.
The game gets even wackier after that. On the next two stages the Vikings will have to get past falling pistons, operate giant magnets, bomb walls, and even rescue an imprisoned girl. There is also a spectacular boss fight at the end of the game that requires a mastery of all of the Viking’s numerous skills. The Vikings will also crack jokes at the beginning and end of each level that are guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
Despite being extremely fun, addictive, and creative, The Lost Vikings can be very unforgiving at times. In order to complete each level you much transport all three Vikings to the exit, but if one dies you’re screwed and must start over again. Although each Viking can take up to three hits one hit deaths are very common, and sometimes occur more than normal hits (those who have played Axelay will get a sense of déjà vu). Because of this a lot of time will be spent starting over, sometimes to the point of absurdity. Although the Vikings’ bickering about they’ve been to the same place so many times might seem funny at first, after hearing them over and over again will eventually get annoying. Luckily there are passwords and you are allowed to restart each level as many ties as you want.
The Lost Vikings only has one gameplay mode (a time trial mode would’ve ruled), but it is a long one. It will take the average gamer around 10 hours to complete, which is very long for a puzzle game. Luckily multiplayer is available for two people. It is a blast, but not nearly as fun as playing the game by yourself. The Lost Vikings is so fun that you might want to play it again; so if you’re a fat Snerd with no friends because of your gigantic man-boobs and five-chinned girlfriend (who doesn’t play videogames) the game will still last for a while. Since the game’s progress is saved by passwords, you can skip to whatever level you want, which makes The Lost Vikings very easy to pick up and play for a couple of minutes.
The Lost Vikings might sound strange and be different than what you would expect from a Viking game, but it is highly enjoyable, challenging, and extremely addictive. While not perfect, it is definitely the SNES’ best puzzle game and one of the best, if not the best puzzle games I’ve ever played. If you’re expecting a hack and slash type game you will be disappointed, but if you are willing to accept The Lost Vikings for what it is you’ll love it.
Community review by Halon (December 03, 2008)
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