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Lost Vikings 2 – Super Nintendo

Lost Vikings 2 – Super Nintendo

2266461-lost_vikings_2_aPlatform: Super Nintendo

Developer: Blizzard Entertainment

Publisher: Interplay Entertainment

Release Date (NA): May 4th, 1997

Genre: Platformer, Puzzle

Nerd Rating: 7.5 out of 10

The boys are back! And they’re as lost as ever.

So, you played The Lost Vikings. You beat it. You may have noticed a little teaser after the credits…

That’s right. The crew over at Silicon & Synapse (Blizzard) were feeling mighty confident back in 1992 that The Lost Vikings was destined for the kind of greatness that spawns a franchise. And while it may not have achieved Warcraft levels of fandom, they made good on their promise by bringing us Lost Vikings 2.

If you happened to be following my Adventures in Flea Marketing series, you saw this review coming…

The first time I was acquainted with Lost Vikings 2 was not long after it was released – around 1998 or 1999 when I was staying at a hotel in Clearwater, Florida. Of course, by then the Super Nintendo had long since been supplanted by the Nintendo 64; however, the mighty shadow of the former still lingered, and Lost Vikings 2 was relatively hot off the press.

Anyway, back in the 90s, some hotels came equipped with a system for renting Super Nintendo games by the hour. And since I did not grow up with a Super Nintendo, this was my chance to experience what I missed out on for so many years.

lodgenet2

Lo and behold.

There it was.

The sequel I didn’t even know I was waiting for.

It was a shock (and quite a pleasant surprise) when I discovered there was a Lost Vikings 2. I rented it, and from there I was hooked. It wasn’t long until I got a Super Nintendo of my own.

Coincidence? You may draw your own conclusions.

I loved this game as a kid. It gave me a totally new adventure to play with those three hairy Norsemen who invaded my childhood. Of course, it’s so easy to take what was special about something original and totally ruin it in a sequel; that’s why today we’re going to dissect this one and see exactly what they did right.

First, a brief synopsis:

Eric the Swift, Baleog the Fierce, and Olaf the Stout are on their way home from a fishing trip when they are suddenly captured by…you guessed it… Tomator. The three Vikings are transported to the perfect rendition of a nightmarish post-apocalyptic future where they are confronted by a robot security guard (outfitted in some sick futuristic Viking gear) with a time machine. Due to a system malfunction (courtesy of Tomator’s carelessness/arrogance), the lights go out and the boys beat the robot straight to Valhalla. After the power’s restored, they find themselves decked out in the sleek, metal Viking gear, giving them new abilities.

Eric the Swift is made even swifter by his new rocket boots. The boots allow him to fly across the screen at breakneck speeds when performing his ol’ head bash maneuver. While this particular trick isn’t necessarily new, it is a blast to rocket headfirst into a wall.

What is new – courtesy of the boots – is a double jump, which gives him the extra force needed to crack blocks overhead. The jets can also ease his drop, preventing a bone-shattering landing.

Eric’s helmet upgrade allows him to swim, opening an entirely new world of gameplay as each Viking would simply drown in the first game. And while underwater segments are almost never a good thing, they’re not that bad in Lost Vikings 2.

Olaf the Stout stole the robot’s shield, which somehow allows him to shrink. This becomes essential to many puzzles involving small openings through which the others cannot fit. Ironic, I know.

Olaf is quite a bit gassier in this game. Whether or not this has anything to do with his recent equipment upgrade is up for debate, but his newfound farting ability gives him just enough air to clear pits without needing to jump. A quick toot will also lift him off the ground, landing on his massive bum, which will decimate certain ground blocks.

I’m a little concerned about the…uhhhh, color of that fart

Last and…well, honestly least (I hate to say) is Baleog. While he may have gained some of the most visually pleasing upgrades, his new gear doesn’t really expand his abilities all that much.

His sword is replaced by an energy saber. What does it do that his mighty blade could not? Nothing. In fact, I believe it’s a little slower than his original sword. The other major upgrade is his bionic arm.

Gone are his bow and arrows, replaced by the extended reach of an arm he stole from the security robot. It can hit enemies from a distance, grab items in spots others can’t reach, and strike anything within a 180˚ range…but that’s about it.

You do realize his bow and arrow could have taken that dragon out, right?

Oh yeah, he can also grab and swing on these floating jewels as a way to overcome wide gaps.

Whee!

Sure, the arm looks cool, and while the swinging mechanic presents a fun, new challenge, I can’t help but feel it only emphasizes how impotent Baleog really is in the sequel.

-More on this later

The Vikings embark on another wacky adventure through space and time…well, mostly time actually. Just like The Lost Vikings, you command three characters through a series of puzzle/platform levels where they must work together to reach the exit. In each stage you will need to find three items and bring them to the end to advance – a task not present in the original game. Though it’s a nice thought, little searching is needed as most of the items will be found along the way. One could consider it a missed opportunity, but since enough challenge and fun exist without the additional effort required by a treasure hunt, I’ll give this one a pass.

New gameplay mechanics have been introduced, such as the swimming already mentioned.

You have a ton of scale puzzles, which are designed for characters who jump (yes, characters – more on that later) to assist those who cannot to higher platforms. When you first encounter one you may be inclined to think it’ll be tedious, but they’re really not. These puzzles actually add a little more depth to the level design.

Teleportation stones/devices sometimes won’t bring you back, requiring extra planning. There are also tightropes some can climb and all can cross.

There’s one other major inclusion I can no longer withhold from you.

Within the first two worlds you have two levels where you start off with only two Vikings. Perplexed by the disappearance of the third, they soldier on until rescuing a native of that land. And the two characters you rescue become permanent members of your crew.

And without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce you to…

Fang

And Scorch

That’s right. You have five total characters. But hey, hey, whoa there, don’t get too excited. Through a series of convenient plot devices (which the game itself addresses humorously), you’re still limited to three at a time. So throughout the entire game you’ll play using a different combination of the five personalities, which creates a much more dynamic experience.

Baleog can’t believe this shit

Fang is your first new character. He’s a wolfman who is comically referred to as a “deer,” “platypus,” “buffalo,” and so on. He can jump like Eric, has a close-range attack like Baleog, and can cling to and jump off of walls with his claws.

Your second newbie is Scorch. He’s a dragon, much like those you’ll fight in the Dark Ages portion of the game. Scorch can jump like Eric, has a far-range attack like Baleog, has limited flight, and can even glide like Olaf. I’m drawing comparisons to make a point…

Scorch glides down a perilous spike pit, much like Olaf would with his trusty shield

While updating the roster with two new faces is definitely a good thing, I can’t help but feel the overlapping of abilities causes Lost Vikings 2 to lose a little something that was special in the first game. The Lost Vikings was very tight; each character was absolutely essential, and no one was better than the other. In this game, however, you’ve got a character like Scorch who can do just about everything the others can, sans a few specialty tricks, and Fang, who is also a bit of a one-man show. What made the original game unique is the fact that you spread basic platforming functions between three guys. Having Fang and Scorch jump and attack makes them play like your garden-variety video game protagonists. And for simple platforming, the game’s build is too basic to make these characters feel special in any way. Not to mention they render Baleog nearly obsolete. I mean, every time an item is stuck in some crevice or a target is placed conveniently overhead, I know the developers are simply trying to justify his role on the team. At least Eric can swim and bust walls/ceilings and Olaf’s got the shield, the shrinking, and the farting. Don’t get me wrong – I like Scorch and Fang’s personalities, and their inclusion is certainly welcome. It’s a great idea that could have been done better. Had they added two characters with completely unique attributes who didn’t step on the Vikings’ toes with redundant qualities it would have been perfect. I admit, they do a great job designing levels where regardless, you still need all three to proceed, though I can’t help but feel bothered by this one detail. I’m certain most will consider the additional players a treat and won’t give a fuck about my trivial gripes.

The gameplay is largely the same as the first one only more robust. So, if you want a more in-depth look at how to play, be sure to scope out my review of The Lost Vikings.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s cover the game’s stylistic points.

The sequel has a vastly different feel, which is amplified by a stark contrast to the original’s musical style and backgrounds. The first game had a bubbly, whimsical, bright, upbeat vibe. This game is slightly darker with a brooding undertone. As brooding as a game where Vikings fight an alien named “Tomator” can be.

The backgrounds are moody and bleak, painting a dark and depressing past and future. While these backdrops are pleasing to look at, I’ve gotta say the character sprites overall are incredibly underwhelming. Consider that this game came out at the tail end of the Super Nintendo’s run and you’ll see what I mean.

I never thought the original had great graphics even for 1992. The sequel – perhaps in an effort to remain consistent – has more or less the same amount of detail. And for a series that spans almost the entirety of the Super Nintendo’s life, it’s hard to tell the two were so far apart. Though it may not be a graphical achievement, the cartoony design is enjoyable, much like its predecessor’s.

Note the similarity in graphics and the sharp contrast in background styles

The music has changed quite a bit. While I love the tunes just as much here as I did in the original, this time we get a soundtrack far moodier and, at times, classical. The first Lost Vikings, on the other hand, had more hip beats mixed with a vibrant, cartoony rhythm. Regardless, Lost Vikings 2 has a fantastic soundtrack you’ll gladly listen to when you’re stuck at work contemplating your entire existence and in desperate need of a distraction from the dark thoughts again.

Anyway…

We get it. You’ve seen Star Wars. Congratulations.

The Lost Vikings had a wry sense of humor, and Lost Vikings 2 definitely retains that fourth-wall-breaking, self-aware personality. This game is genuinely funny. I actually found myself chuckling a few times, mostly in response to the characters criticizing my poor performance after a series of failed attempts at the final level. Though they could really tone down the Star Wars references, the humor in this game is much appreciated by this critic.

Let me speak a moment on the difficulty of this game. In my review of the first one I referenced my thorough knowledge of every level as hindering a proper evaluation in that category. This game, on the other hand…phew.

The difficulty curve could stand to be a little more steady. The majority of the gameplay was pretty tame, though once I made it to the fourth world I was having some trouble remembering how certain puzzles were completed. I imagine someone with less Lost Vikings 2 experience than I would have a real field day. I can at least say this with certainty – Lost Vikings 2 is a great deal harder than The Lost Vikings.

The last stage is a real ball-buster. Unlike the previous game where you face off against Tomator only in the final level, here you have to defeat him twice.

The first round is not too bad. But the second…oh brother, let me tell you.

Allow me to put it into perspective: I used to play this game, along with the first one, every summer throughout middle school and high school. I know The Lost Vikings and Lost Vikings 2 pretty much inside and out. As I replayed it for this review, I lost count how many times I had to restart the final level. It’s brutal. It’s frustrating. Some foul language might escape your curled lips. But don’t let that spoil your time – it’s really a nice challenge. Your last encounter with Tomator is fun, and when you finally bash that son of a bitch…oh boy, is it satisfying.

Lost Vikings 2 is not only a great game, it’s a great sequel. It does everything right for a followup. It stays true to the original while improving upon it, giving us a much richer and fuller experience; it brings back familiar faces and adds new members to the cast; and we’re given updated abilities, new puzzles/level designs, and additional objectives. They managed to find a perfect balance of old and new, ushering in a totally fresh and refreshing experience. It’s good to see the boys back again.

While there are a few shortcomings, all in all, the pros far outweigh the cons. I am happy to give this game two greasy thumbs up.

Written by ZB

ZB

Since the tender age of four, I have been playing video games to occupy my free time. Raised on Nintendo and Sega Genesis, I have an extensive knowledge and enthusiasm for the classics. Also an avid collector, I have accrued such consoles as the Atari Jaguar, Super Famicom, Odyssey 2, Sega Nomad, just to name a few.

Got any questions, comments, concerns, or threats? Feel free to email me at zb@nerdbacon.com. I am happy to hear your feedback!

 
 

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  1. Harry McNutsack says:

    10/10. Would read (while nude) again.

     

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