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The Lost Vikings – SNES

The Lost Vikings – SNES

The_Lost_Vikings_SNES_coverPlatform: Super Nintendo

Developer: Silicon & Synapse

Publisher: Interplay Entertainment

Release Date (NA): May 4, 1992

Genre: ActionPlatformer, Puzzle

Nerd Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Ahhh, what a peaceful, snow-capped day. Perfect for hunting and general camaraderie. And this is exactly what viking brothers Eric the Swift, Baleog the Fierce, and Olaf the Stout decided to do on this fine day with a breezy undercurrent of whimsical music to score a picturesque setting.

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It’s the kind of day where you feel pretty confident an evil alien ruler from the planet Crouton won’t abduct you for the purposes of adding human specimen to his collection of alien lifeforms. So you can imagine the surprise – dare I say, shock, experienced by these three norsemen when an evil alien ruler from the planet Crouton abducts them for the purposes of adding human specimen to his collection of alien lifeforms. I think anybody would feel the same under similar circumstances.

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So what are three clueless vikings to do aboard an alien spaceship when all they want is to be back in their safe, warm huts nestled in the heart of their beloved village? Use teamwork to find a time portal and bust on out, of course!

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The Lost Vikings is an action/puzzle game – perhaps the first of its kind – by a modest developer known as Blizzard (Silicon & Synapse at the time). They’ve done a few other things since then, that’s probably why they sound familiar.

The Lost Vikings is pure fun mixed with good-natured humor and colorful worlds and creatures to stoke the flames of your imagination. This is a very beloved childhood title amongst the favorites of my youth. So with that said, let’s dive into this highly biased assessment and see why The Lost Vikings reigns supreme!

I admit some of the glossy sheen I see with this game could be slightly skewed by my nostalgic eyes, but I do my best to be objective. I have ripped apart some childhood favorites of mine, however, The Lost Vikings has remained near and dear to me over the years. As such, this review will be a reflection of what has helped it stand the tests of time.

Let me just say, before I start gushing over this game, graphically it’s not the best. Sure, it has a nice cartoony style, but the sprites are very simplistic, rudimentary – rough around the edges, so to speak. To its credit this was an early SNES title, so to expect anything more might be a little unfair.

Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 10.57.32 AM

Though not the best graphically, we are treated to some Mode 7 in the SNES version

Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 11.10.32 AMAnother criticism is that the platforming and other skill-testing trials are not too difficult. Most of the challenge is found in the puzzle-solving, which I have trouble rating since I have played through the game so many times. As a sapling I had a hell of a time making progress. I even remember people helping me through the game, including a 17-year-old and my mother. We all had trouble figuring out what to do next. But now, for me anyway, it’s a breeze.

Regardless, *gushing commences* The Lost Vikings has tremendous replay value. Even if you don’t find the obstacles all that tough, you’ll have so much fun playing through the story, you’ll want to come back again and again.

No, it’s not an in-depth tale. But it’s certainly an enjoyable experience.

Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 11.14.15 AMYou start off in the cold, gray, lifeless spaceship, fighting aliens. From there you’re transported to Prehistoria to ward off cavemen and – dinosaurs…? (It was the 90s, maybe they just didn’t know any better. Or didn’t care. I’m guessing the latter). Then you venture forth into Ancient Egypt to combat mummies, scorpions, and the like. After that, it’s a strange construction world known simply as “Factory.” Things get really weird in the candy land/striped Wacky World. Finally, you wind up back aboard the spaceship to fight the evil antagonist himself – Tomator.

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Caveman Sean Connery is helpful, but not friendly

Each and every world you visit is charming, bright, and colorful – an absolute joy for the eye to take in. And the villainous foes and helpful friends are all equally clever. You are enveloped in a cartoon world as light-hearted as anyone could hope for. And the humor…

While I’m not going to say I find it hysterical, I do very much enjoy the witty banter of the vikings and other supporting characters. It’s charming, with plenty of fourth-wall breaking, wink at the camera moments to go around. The game is bleeding with personality, and through the snarky dialogue you get a great sense of character from the people of this world.

What really makes The Lost Vikings stand out is the the way you play. You control the three vikings by means of alternating between them via L and R buttons. Each character has his own set of skills vital to progress.Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 1.41.11 PM

Eric the Swift, as his name would imply, is fast. But he can also break down walls with his hardened skull and is the only one of the vikings who can jump. This means that often he’ll be responsible for grabbing out-of-reach items, platforming, lowering drawbridges for the others to safely cross, and so forth.

Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 11.17.08 AM

Baleog the Fierce is the weapons guy. Wielding a mighty blade and bow and arrow set, he not only sends the enemies to an early grave (literally), he also uses his arrows to hit buttons, targets, and switches inaccessible to anyone else. And though technically Eric can ram enemies with his head, as the game progresses and opponents require more hits, you’ll need Baleog’s quick arm to slice away those baddies. Every time Eric “uses his head,” he is knocked out for a few moments, leaving him temporarily vulnerable – probably as a way of evening out skills and preventing the player from attacking with Eric.

Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 2.10.58 PM

Lastly there’s Olaf. Lovable, dopey, rotund Olaf the Stout. He carries the shield and an indelible grin, meaning anybody standing behind him is safe. He can also hold the shield above his head.  This serves as both a boost up for Eric and a hang glider, which allows him to gently float over deadly hazards.

Puzzle solving will require you to use each viking collaboratively to reach the end of the level. And yes, you must bring them all there alive. One dies, you might as well start over. Unless you wanna see the rest of the stage before you restart.

Another nice feature is items. This game is packed to the brim with useful treasures, which often factor into the puzzle elements. And what’s even cooler, you can trade between vikings.

What’s that? Eric’s got a chunk of flesh missing from his side after a terribly unfriendly altercation with a dinosaur? Well he’s in luck! Olaf has a steak! I mean, he was going to eat it, but…hey, that’s what friends are for. How a steak will heal a gaping flesh wound is beyond me, but…

Sometimes you’ll have to give an item to the viking capable of accessing a particular area. Let’s say Baleog has the key, but the lock is at the bottom of these spikes, which only Olaf can avoid by hang gliding. I’m pretty certain you can see where it goes from there.

Don’t you just love a good game where it’s fun killing off your characters? If your answer is “Yes,” then The Lost Vikings is the game for you. Death animations are unique to different hazards/hostiles and always enjoyable to watch. Have your viking mummified, or witness him smash into a potpourri of flesh after falling off a high platform. At least when you die you’ll have something entertaining to see.

Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 1.48.12 PM

Baleog splatters into a colorful pulp after falling from a great height on his last unit of health

The controls are fine. Eric obviously handles differently from the other two. And I suppose Olaf does as well when he is airborne, but it would have been nice if they went one extra step to differentiate the movement of Baleog from that of Olaf. Hell, they all even seem to weigh the same. The game jests about this fact when Baleog expresses shock that a floating bubble was able to support the sizable Olaf. Either way, this is me nitpicking as I try to analyze the game from as much of a distance as I can. It’s really not a big deal. In fact, I’m kind of scraping the bottom of the barrel to find faults in The Lost Vikings. Ultimately, the controls are solid.

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How is this even possible!?

The music.

The music.

I love the music. My god.

It’s so good. You have the intense, futuristic techno beat of The Croutonian Ship; the peaceful, primitive, rolling drums in Prehistoria; the funky, yet traditional mix in Egypt; the groovy, laid back track in The Factory; and of course my all time favorite – the soothing, whimsical melody that just whisks you off to the far away land of Wacky World. Several tunes will have hearty viking chants mixed in. Oh, and who can forget the very 90’s-flavored opening jam, setting the tone for the game as a whole? And it all ends with a big viking rock concert. What a perfect way to cap off such a fine gaming experience.

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Now there’s a big differentiation to be made here as the two primary versions are SNES and Genesis. Sure, it was ported over to the Amiga, DOS, and a few others, but let’s focus on the main contenders in the early-90s console war.

The music is very different between The Lost Vikings for SNES and the one for Genesis. And while I do really enjoy the Wacky World theme on the Genesis port, I have to hand it to the SNES on this one. That was the original release, and oh boy, do they do it right. Any of the praises I sing are in reference to the SNES version. In fact, I prefer my SNES copy to the one for Genesis. Sure, Sega gave us a few extra levels, but they feel very superfluous. In addition to superior music, the SNES presents us with softer sprites, versus the sharper, harsher look of the Genesis (Oh and by the way, I grew up with the Genesis game and a DOS port with no sound. So yeah, who you calling biased?).

OverallThe Lost Vikings is a really imaginative concept. It’s the kind of idea you’d find back in the day when video games still had a simplicity to them; when imagination stood at the forefront, and the focus wasn’t so much on open gameplay or realistic graphics. It’s the silliness, the charm, that makes this game such a timeless gem. If you haven’t already done so, get yourself lost in this game today!

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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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2 Comments

  1. I’d never even heard of this game and now I’m excited to play it 😀 Thanks for opening my eyes, ZB!

     
    • Hey, it’s my pleasure. I’m very happy to be able to share this childhood classic with you. It’s great to be able to make people aware of some of these hidden gems. I hope you enjoy it, and if you have any questions about it, feel free to reach out!

       

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