When I first started gaming, back in the days of the NES, I viewed games simply as a fun, stupid pastime. You ran to the right and jumped over holes. They were fun, sure, but I didn't think they had much substance to them. I also thought that my mother was completely right in limiting my access to the console, because they are addictive to the stupid brain of a kid, but completely pointless.
Today, I would disagree with that even at gunpoint.
This went on until one fateful day when my uncle (who seemed to only visit us so he could show us new videogames) brought us a DOS game that I couldn't put down on my own. I couldn't even put it down after my mother had threatened to prevent me from playing any game ever again if it's turning into an addiction. I didn't care. I just started playing that game at a friend's house.
That game was The Lost Vikings.
If you've never heard of The Lost Vikings, I...don't like you. But here's a quick rundown on what it was about
The Lost Vikings was developed by Silicon&Synapse, known today as Blizzard Entertainment.
In the game you took control of 3 vikings who were kidnapped by an evil alien called Tomator who wanted to put the vikings on display in his intergalactic zoo. Ridiculous premise, sure, but so was the one in Super Mario Bros, a game I was still playing at the time. Where The Lost Vikings shined though was constant dialog throughout the game. This completely blew my mind back then. Here I am with a video game that has a premise and an ending, like other games, but also story in between. The dialog was clever, funny, and very well written.
In the game, you basically had to get all three vikings to the exit of a level. You could freely switch the viking you're controlling, and each viking came with his own abilities. The first one could jump and bash walls with his helmet, the second one had a sword and a bow for killing enemies, and the third one had a shield for blocking hazardous things. He could also use his shield to glide around by holding it above his head.
The levels got increasingly complex and often ended up with each viking in completely seperate parts of a huge level, hitting various switches and pulling levers to operate various machinery which changed something somewhere else in the level, helping one of the other vikings to continue. This all was amazingly complex and something I had never seen before or could have even imagined possible, considering my entire experiences with videogames so far had been mostly sidescrolling platformers where you jumped when something got in the way. There I was, messing up and restarting a level over and over again until I figured it out and did it all over again in the next one.
I blame The Lost Vikings for turning me into the puzzle game fan I am today. If I see a puzzle game with even a single somewhat unique idea to it, I'm already interested. Echochrome? I want it. Echoshift? From the creators of Echochrome right, so gimme! Braid, Portal, Crush, VVVVVV, World of Goo, Puzzle Quest? I love all of them, and bought them a fraction of a second after hearing about their concepts.
I also blame The Lost Vikings for turning me into the gamer I am today, who takes games seriously, argues about their artistic value, and doesn't have much of a social life. Like things should have been all along then! These days it's not a problem to spend an entire day gaming, and it's Blizzard Entertainment who is to blame. Yup, the guys who made World of Warcraft, the game infamous for ruining the real lives of gamers.
That has always been their business strategy as it turns out.