The Lost Vikings

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Erik: If I bash one more wall right now, my head will explode!
Olaf: I got dibs on his helmet.
Baleog: Okay, but I get his boots.
Erik: It's great to have such good friends.

In a frozen village in the far north, three Vikings of great skill and strength live quiet lives, spending their days hunting for meat in the surrounding woods. They are Erik the Swift, known far and wide for his great speed and incredible jumping ability; Baleog the Fierce, whose skill with a bow and sword allows him to crush anything in his path; and Olaf the Stout, who carries a shield and is strong enough to carry a full-grown man on top of it.

One cold night, the trio finds themselves kidnapped by an evil green alien known as Tomator, who wants to use the Vikings as exhibits in his intergalactic freak show. The trio aren't about to take this lying down and immediately bust out. Their escape attempt goes a bit awry, however, resulting in them being hurled through time. It's up to you to lead them home.

The Lost Vikings (developed by the team that would later become Blizzard Entertainment, released for the SNES in 1992, and later ported to other systems) is a hard game to classify. At first glance, it looks like a simple Platformer, but it's more complicated than that: two of your characters can't even jump. Puzzles are definitely a big part of the gameplay, but it's not entirely cerebral: in later levels, it's a challenge just to stay alive. It's more accurately called a "puzzle-platformer", as the goal is to lead all three Vikings (who you can switch between at any time) safely through each level to the exit. Each character has his own set of abilities which he can use to help the team progress through the level: Erik can jump to higher ledges and use his helmet to bash through fragile walls, Baleog can use his weapons to defeat enemies and flip switches, and Olaf can use his shield to block enemy attacks and as a hang glider to slowly drop to lower levels.

The big draw to the series is how each character's abilities are used in unique ways and in combination with each other to allow for safe progress. For example, one early puzzle requires Olaf to use his shield as a platform for Erik to jump from, giving him the extra height he needs to vault a locked gate. On the other side, Erik can find a key to unlock the door and allow his companions to progress. Some of the puzzles are quite devious, and the game is ruled by Trial and Error Gameplay. Lots of it. Lots of it.

In addition, the game has a quirky sense of humor of the type rarely seen in this era of video games (which were usually lucky to get any text at all). It's an absolute joy to guide the bumbling, bickering Vikings through each stage.

In 1995, a long-awaited sequel was finally released (initially for the SNES and later remade for the Playstation, Saturn and PC). In this game, the Vikings are again ambushed by Tomator, but the Vikings respond by mugging Tomator's minions and taking their gear, giving them new abilities. Erik gains rocket boots (which allow him to Double Jump) and a scuba helmet (which removes his Super Drowning Skills), Baleog takes a lightsaber and a cybernetic arm (which allow him to attack in eight directions, Belmont-style, and swing off certain gems), and Olaf earns a new cybernetic shield which allows him to shrink and boosts his flatulence to frightening levels. On top of that, the Vikings pick up two new characters in their travels: Fang the werewolf, who can run, jump, attack enemies, and Wall Jump, and Scorch the magic dragon (who has never seen the sea, but would evidently like to check it out), who can fly and breathe fire. To keep the gameplay simple, however, the two newbies would replace one or more of the Vikings every so often, allowing the player to control no more than three characters at a time. The packaging is different, but the game's the same: use the Vikings' abilities to lead them safely through stages full of death traps until you got to Tomator.

Fun and funny, but surprisingly deep; well worth a try.

The series also contains a Shout-Out or two to Blizzard's more famous series, Warcraft, which later returned the favor.

Tropes used in The Lost Vikings include:
  • Adaptation Expansion: The Genesis version has six levels the Super Nintendo one doesn't, and replaces the music from the demo in Wacky World with an awesomely bizarre remix of the SNES version of the Factory theme that suits the place perfectly.
  • Ambidextrous Sprite: Played straight throughout both games, but curiously, Baleog's portrait in the first game shows his sword in the opposite hand from his sprites.
    • In the second game, Baleog's robotic arm switches arms depending on which way he's facing. A bit more obvious when climbing ladders.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: 3 max in the sequel. Lampshaded constantly.
    • Justified in-universe by the teleportation magic/technology used by the various characters helping our heroes along being amateur or otherwise faulty; they all get where they're going eventually, but periodically, a flub-up sends them off to the bean aisle.
      • The sisters on the pirate ships aren't sending you straight to where you need to go because they wanna get rich. It takes a threat to convince them to get you there.
  • Arrows on Fire: One of the powerups for Baleog in the first game.
  • Blatant Item Placement: It's good that all the food being mid-air isn't taken by someone else.

Olaf: If Tomator is so evil, then why does he leave these... Bombs and machines for us to use?
Baleog: No one else in videogames wonders about that stuff.

Baleog: "I'm so familiar with the beginning of this level, I could do my part blindfolded."
Erik: "Yeah, it's too bad the player keeps trying to prove the same thing."