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LONG BLOG

SNES REVIEWS: The Lost Vikings

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For those reading one of my SNES review blogs for the first time, here is the basic concept:

"While the SNES was a constant presence in my childhood, I never had a large collection of games for it. In fact, many of the games I played I still don't know the names of. It wasn't until I say the uproar over Breath of Fire 6 that I knew I played Breath of Fire 1 in the SNES.

After reading the excellent top 100 SNES games list by IGN:

http://www.ign.com/top/snes-games

I decided to go back and play those 100 games and review them. Well, as I looked closer at the list, I realized that there are many genres that did not age well from the SNES (racing, sports) and many other genres that I am simply not good at (shmups, arcade shooters) and others that I need other players to play against for an accurate representation (fighters). Also, I played many of the more well known games such as Final Fantasy and Super Metroid."

We finished with the legacy reviews, so we are beginning with the reviews after my hiatus. Please feel free to give me advise on my reviews, as I always look for improvement.


Also, here are a number of extra rules for Destructoid:
-If you have any suggestion of a game that is not in the IGN list that I should review, please suggest it.
-Make a bet on each game to check whether Chris Charter played it or not.

Without further ado, here is:

30- The Lost Vikings:
Year: 1992.
Genre: Puzzle/Platformer.
Publisher: Interplay.
Developer: Blizzard.

 
First things first, I am changing my rating system to better rate different genres according to their own rules. It will still be from 50 quality points, but every title will start from 25 and earn/lose points according to criteria important to the titles and genres themselves.

Another Blizzard game that is neither WoW nor Starcraft. Back in those days when there were trying different things in search of a truly big hit. Interestingly enough, we see similarities in visual design between these Vikings and World of Warcraft.

However, The Lost Vikings is a completely different and unique game. It manages to carve out a different style of gameplay while maintain a constant and humorous style. By the end of this game, these Vikings endear themselves to us through both gameplay and their joyful banter.

"All evil space aliens need innocent earth prisoners.”

Eric the swift, Baleog the strong, and Olaf are the three Vikings unfortunately abducted by the evil alien Tomator. Not interested in being held as hairy displays in a galactic zoo, the trio escapes Tomator’s ship and go into an “epic” journey through time and space to go back home. Lucky for them, their Viking strength and ingenuity is enough for them to survive, just barely.

We are tasked with guiding the three back home. In the way, we go through the age of Dinosaurs, the pyramids of Egypt, and some whacky places. Ever the chatterboxes, the trio share their thoughts on their predicament, the places they see, themselves, and even videogame tropes. In fact, the Lost Vikings might be the earliest game I played with such sharp self-referential humor. An essentially comedic tale, the jokes are more hits than misses, and the comedy goes through both visually and in the script. Even ending with one of the funniest and most appropriate credits scenes.

Actually Funny: +4

"We have guts and courage, we are Viking heroes."

While I am not sure about their courage, Eric, Baleog, and Olaf sure do have lots of guts. However, they mostly have lot of patience. In The Lost Vikings, you don’t control only one hero, but all three. In the game, you must use each hero’s individual skills to beat each level. In game, you control one hero and can switch to the other two at any time, essentially switching to and fro as you try and figure out each level’s tricks.

Eric can jump and break things with his head, Baleog is the only one who brought anw weapons with him, and Olaf brought a shield that he can even hover with. You are rarely going to depend on just one of the guys to finish a level (Which actually requires you to move all three to the exit), but will need to synergize the three different skill sets to navigate the level.

Through a surprisingly lengthy adventure, the game manages to crafts seriously intricate levels that both challenges and confounds you. Though every tool is in your disposal, some tricks elude you just long enough to feel positively genius when you figure them out. Yet, these instances are actually more rare than I would have liked, with a lot of the levels feeling more like busy work. This actually means that playing this game in small patches is best.

Unique Gameplay: +3
Actually Smart Levels: +4
Those WOW Moments: +2
Some Underwhelming Levels: -2


"Will you guys shut up and follow me."

Actually, one thing I agree with Eric. While not overly annoying, a tethering system would have helped alleviate some of the busy work; where you need to get one Viking to one point, then switch to another Viking and go the same exact spot. Again, its not that serious but would have been welcome.

More serious issues are the death traps and reverse dead ends. Since you need all three Vikings alive and well to finish a level, your worst enemy is that random spike that kills you instantly. If that was in the end of a stage, you will need to give up and replay the stage from the beginning. This can actually be avoided by really thinking before you move.

However, reverse dead ends are sometimes surprising and unavoidable. Through no fault of your own, you might move through one Viking’s sequence earlier than you should have, ending up in an advanced stage where you can’t help the other Vikings. In that level, how would the player know they should have used Olaf before Eric, or Baleog before both?

Thankfully, the levels are not that large so that each frustrating restart is not the end of the world. For the player, it is going to mean a more elaborate and relaxed pace to avoid those restarts.

A lot of Restarts: -4
Forces you to think +1


"Cool waterfall that hovers in midair"

Vikings are easily a visual canvas. Through both hair and facial expression, we see how unique the three characters are. More interestingly, is how their animation conveys their personality. Eric is impatient and strong willed, Baleog is strong and constantly flexes his muscles, and Olaf is laid back and relaxed. Elsewhere, enemy sprites are not as detailed as the three Vikings, but they are well animated and distinctive enough.

While the sprites are the visual highlights of the game, the level backgrounds are not bad at all. With each “world” visually distinctive from the others, we get a glimpse of how lost thos Vikings are. Unfortunately, not all worlds were interesting for me, with the whacky world sorely lacking. I really wanted a Roman Empire level.

Musically, the tunes included are catchy and distinctive, each accurately complementing the visuals. However, it is a very limited selection. With what probably is only five distinctive tracks, The Lost Vikings is one of the SNES game’s least varied games in their soundtrack.

Distinctive Sprites: +3
Limited Music: -3
Good Background Art: +2


In Conclusion:

The Lost Vikings might not be one of the true gems of the SNES, but its unique gameplay and distinctive character both showcases a game with heart. Rarely do Vikings endear themselves to us as much, and we root for these guys all the way.

Blizzard today is mostly sunk into its major franchises. The Lost Vikings reminds us of the creativity lost when developers are forever tethered to their largest successes.


Final: 35/50
*****************************************************************

"Tips"

1- Move with Caution.
2- Make Olaf your front line scout, Eric might be faster but Olaf's shield is a life saver.
3- When you get bombs, you will probably need to use them to blow stuff up.
4- Olaf's shield can keep falling things from falling down.
5- Baleog's Arrow upgrade allows him to destroy things he couldn't before.
6- Each character has their use, figure out early what each one can do.

 

"Next Game"

I skipped a game I was going to play, and I enjoyed The Lost Vikings. This time, I am hopefully not skipping the next game, which sit at #24 and is known by all of you.

Contra 3 might not be the most famous contra, but it is apparently the best one in the SNES. I might not be able to beat this one normally, but through the magic of emulation, I might have a chance.


Stay Tuned

For Previous SNES game Reviews:

The List

For More Screenshots:

http://www.mobygames.com/game/snes/lost-vikings/screenshots

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About Lord Spencerone of us since 5:57 PM on 01.12.2014

Hello all, I am Lord Spencer, your friendly neighborhood royalty. Yes, the ancient bloodlines are letting absolutely anyone in these days.

Being the lurker that I am, I have been following Destructoid for more than four years. Well, its 3 AM where I live now, and I just plunged in getting HUGE in the way.

Here is hoping for a fun time.

Oh yes, here is a little more info about me that is probably not as interesting as I think it is:

-I owned and played about 1000+ games.
-I owned and read about 2000+ books (I counted comic books I read as a kid so this is not as impressive as it sounds).
-I absolutely love Legos.

Out of all the games I played, I only regret playing a few. I am a big fan of gaming, and thus I really like most of what I play.

Thanks to the excellent work of community member Dango, now I have a cool infographic of my top 20 games. This list is not my final one, but what I thought off at the moment. If you notice, they are presented in chronological order:





Oh, and here is a link to my blogs:
My Blogs