The Lost Vikings

The Lost Vikings - Sega Genesis - Gameplay Screenshot

Lost Vikings, The (1992)
By: Silicon & Synapse / Interplay  Genre: Platform / Puzzle  Players: 1-2  Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Sega MegaDrive / Genesis
Also Available For: SNES, GameBoy Advance, Amiga, CD32, PC

Now that I think about it, the sub-genre of platform/puzzle games, on which I am rather keen, is a little obscure as genres go, but the combination of two older and exceedingly popular types of game has proved to be a fantastic partnership. Examples have taken many weird and wonderful forms over the years and one of the most interesting (though not necessarily best) is of the sort that includes multiple characters with differing abilities. This was of course made popular by the great Lemmings. Dozens of similar games soon appeared and most were average at best, but The Lost Vikings is a pretty rare example of another game taking that premise, putting a different slant on it, and actually succeeding.

The Lost Vikings - Sega Genesis - Gameplay Screenshot

Starring as the multiple characters in this game are the Vikings of the title who are indeed lost. Actually, ‘captives’ might be a more appropriate word as our three Nordic friends have apparently been abducted by the curiously-named Tomator, emperor of the alien Croutonian Empire, who has been collecting unique and interesting specimens for his intergalactic zoo. They obviously weren’t confined very effectively though as they immediately set out to escape their shackles. To do this you must guide them to the exit on each of the 41 levels (or 37 in the other versions) which are set over various themed worlds (through time, of course!). The first is apparently set within the Croutonian spaceship but others include an Egyptian one (obviously), Pre-Historic, and even toy/food-related ones (not sure what time-period it’s supposed to be though!).

The Lost Vikings - Sega Genesis - Gameplay Screenshot

Before I get carried away though, I’ve just realised how rude I’ve been by failing to introduce the stars of the show – the Vikings themselves! So, say hello to Erik the Swift, Baleog the Fierce, and Olaf the Stout! As you may have guessed, they each have unique abilities so you must use them all as a team to successfully finish each level. Erik can run and jump around the platforms and can also smash down certain walls by headbutting them, Baleog is equipped with a sword and bow (with infinite arrows) with which to battle the various enemies, and Olaf has a large shield which protects him (and indeed the others if they’re behind him) from enemies and hazards, and he can also raise it above his head and glide down from high places.

The Lost Vikings - Sega Genesis - Gameplay Screenshot

To complete a level you must succeed in guiding all three Vikings to its exit. On the first level this takes about one minute but as you go through the game the levels get larger and more complicated as you might expect. They are multi-tiered and most feature ladders, colour-coded keys/locks, switches, and various monstrous and not-so-monstrous enemies. As you progress you’ll encounter more and more obstacles and features such as spring-pads, moving platforms, and even a device that inflates our heroes allowing them to float! The enemies take many forms usually related to the environment you’re in. The pre-historic world, for example, features vicious cavemen, small dragons, and… umm… snails. There’s also numerous guns and other projectile-firing devices around, and a touch from any of these things, or indeed falling too far, will cost the unfortunate Viking one of his three health points.

The Lost Vikings - Sega Genesis - Gameplay Screenshot

Contact with some of the hazards found in the levels, such as spikes or electric forcefields, can cause instant death too, so careful planning is required for the most part, rather than charging around recklessly. Fortunately, hit points are replenished each stage and there are also a few items that can help you such as various foods to replenish your energy and smart bombs to clear the screen of enemies. These items can be transferred from one Viking to another too, depending on who’s most in need, which further emphasises the teamwork aspect of the game which is so prevalent. In fact, in some versions of the game (including this one) it’s possible for you and a friend to control more than one Viking at once.

The Lost Vikings - Sega Genesis - Gameplay Screenshot
As I mentioned earlier, after the success of Lemmings there was a good few games released that tried their own take on the ‘multiple characters with differing abilities’ formula, but in most cases it either seemed unnecessarily tacked-on or that the developers put too much emphasis on it, forgetting to create decent stages for them to explore in the process! Luckily, Silicon & Synapse (who would later become Blizzard Entertainment of Warcraft fame) got the balance just right with this amusing adventure. The levels are well designed for the most part and before each one there’s some humorous banter between the three Vikings (via speech bubbles). They all have unique abilities but they are simple too, and all vital for successful progress through the game’s ever-tougher levels.

The Lost Vikings - Sega Genesis - Gameplay Screenshot
Aesthetically, The Lost Vikings is pretty average. It doesn’t really need flashy graphics and, whilst there is a lot of colour and some nice backgrounds and foregrounds, it’s certainly not ground-breaking either. It’s the same with the sound – effects are kept to a minimum and the music suits the game well enough but isn’t particularly memorable. As with all games of this type though, it’s other aspects of the game’s design that counts, such as level and character design. Happily, near enough every aspect of the gameplay is spot-on. The Vikings themselves are appealing (helped by their entertaining chatter) and are easy to control, and the difficulty curve is reasonably well-balanced too. The only problem is that there’s something of a ‘trial and error’ aspect to some sections of the game, and if you make a mistake and kill a Viking it’s all the way back to the start of the level, and they can get pretty big and complicated later on! Still, each level has a password and it is addictive, with the unique abilities of each Viking making for an interesting and fairly originally-designed game that’s well worth a look.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-1wmfle9-8[/youtube]

Retro King Simon is a 36 year old guy from England, and likes lots of stuff, including retro videogames, movies, and anime. You can check out his blog here – Red Parsley.

RKS Score: 8/10

Trine

Trine
Trine

Trine review by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:
“Symphony of the Night + The Lost Vikings + Out of This World = fun!”

Overall Score:

8 out of 10

Overview:

Trine is a fantasy action puzzle platformer game that consists of three soul-bound characters that got trapped that way at the beginning of the game through magic making their way through each map in stages. You switch characters depending on which one you want to use, in the style of The Lost Vikings, only that all three characters take up the same place, rather than like in The Lost Vikings each being an independent character that you control once at a time.

The three characters are a mage, a rogue archer, and a warrior.

The mage can move objects around through magic and summon magic cubes/planks, which you can use to use to jump higher or drop on enemies.

The rogue archer is basically the most powerful character in the game. She can fire a ton of arrows that although they don’t do as much damage as the warrior, you can eventually fire multiple numbers of them and you can dispatch enemies safely at a distance. The best ability she has is firing a grappling arrow, sort of like the grappling hook gun that Batman has, which you can use to climb up, slide down, rock back and forth, swing, and all sorts of crazy acrobatics. She can light torches by firing flame arrows at them. For me, she’s basically the main character to use.

The warrior is supposed to be the main fighter, although the rogue archer is superior in my eyes. He mainly mashes things, whether parts of the terrain or boxes or enemies. He can also pick stuff up and move it around and he has a shield which absorbs most damage, so long as you angle it properly. He can also light torches, simply by chopping them with his sword.

There are 3 stats in this game, health, mana/energy, and XP.

Health is pretty self explanatory, with some enemies dropping hearts which can heal you. You can also heal by going to a checkpoint, if your health is lower than the minimum that difficulty setting designates as the minimum.

Mana/energy gets used up any time the mage does anything, or to do special attacks for the other two characters. The rogue archer mainly uses the energy to fire lit arrows when you pick up that power. The warrior uses energy to perform special attacks. You replentish mana/energy by going to the next checkpoint or by picking up blue vials which some enemies drop, which this is the most common drop in the game.

The last stat is XP. You pick this up in green vials that are scattered throughout the map (mainly in hard to reach places) and by killing enemies. When you get enough XP all three characters level up and you get a certain amount of character points which you use to purchase new powers or improve old ones.

The final thing to mention regarding general gameplay is that there are different treasures/loot hidden throughout the maps. Each one can boost your powers by a set amount or add a completely different kind of power to the character. For example, I picked up an item which lets my mage swim under water for unlimited amounts of time.

The game gets told as a fairy tale story, and it’s really well done in that sense.

As of the time of this writing, this game is only available on PC. You can play the demo here from Steam.

This is an indie title by Frozenbyte. It has gained a lot of acclaim/awards from other gaming sites. Overall, it’s a great, although short game.

Fun Factor:

This game is a lot of fun, especially the first time through. There are many different approaches and solutions towards getting through an area or fighting enemies and to me that makes for an intelligent game, which most games are not these days, especially a platformer game. The atmosphere and way the game got made keeps you playing. The first time I played the game I was dead tired and started playing it at 11 PM. I went to bed that day at 5 AM.

For the first playthrough I give the game a Fun Factor score of 9 out of 10. For the repeat plays, I give it a score of 6 out of 10, maybe even 7 if it’s been a while.

Difficulty Versatility:

There are different difficulties but they are mostly the same. The only difference I found in game play is that the amount of health that you get when a character dies and resurrects at the checkpoints is lowered the harder you set it. I got really good at this game real fast so I would recommend playing it right from the start at the max difficulty. Most of the game is pretty easy to me, but some parts are tricky. Difficulty Versatility gets a score of 6 out of 10.

Value:

When I got this game it was $5 (when I announced the sale last time). At that cost, the game is an amazing value.

When it’s not on sale, this game usually goes for about $20. At the time of this writing, you can get it for that much through ebgames.com in DVD and also as the downloaded version. You can get it for the same price through Steam.

You can also get it from Impulse here, which is one of our sponsors.

Trine
$19.99

For $20, considering it took me 5-6 hours to beat the game the first time, it’s not so much a great value. At that cost, I’d give Value a score of 4 out of 10. At a cost of $10, I’d give it a 6 out of 10. At $5, I’d give Value a score of 8 out of 10.

Replayability:

This is a pretty short game. I’ve played it twice so far and the game was predictable the entire 2nd playthrough. I have a good memory and since I just played it back to back, I will probably revisit this game in a year or two. I’d give replayability a 4 out of 10, mainly because it’s such a well made game and the action is well done.

Sound:

The voice acting for the game is great. I enjoy when they argue with each other, regarding the path they are taking for solving the main plot. It’s comical. The mage is a shy dork, the rogue archer is a hot sexy lady, and the warrior is a dumb jock.

The sound effects are well done too. The arrows sound real. The smashing of the warrior’s sword or the impact on his shield sound amazing. Sound gets a score of 8 out of 10. I would have given it a higher score, if it had more voice acting.

Music:

The music for the game is beautiful. It goes well with the atmostphere and the fairy tale setting. The music sometimes reminds me of a Tim Burton kind of fairy tale movie. Danny Elfman would be proud! It is written by Ari Pulkkinen. I wish it were available for download. The music from Trine gets a score of 10 out of 10. It’s simply beautiful.

Graphics:

The game looks beautiful. It reminds me sort of the style that the first Legacy of Kain: Blood Omen had, only from the point of view of a side-scrolling platformer instead of the top down and not pixelated at all. They look well drawn and the game is simply beautiful. For what this game is, the Graphics deserve a score of 10 out of 10.

Stability/Reliability:

The game runs rock solid even while alt-tabbing the living hell out of it. Nothing to complain here. It loads up quickly as well each time. Stability/Reliability gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Controls:

The controls are simple and fluid. Standard WASD + mouse combo work like a charm for Trine. Once you’ve played the game for a while, you will be able to use each character almost as if it’s second nature to you. It doesn’t take long to get used to the controls. Eventually you will find yourself just drilling everything with the rogue archer and the enemies won’t stand a chance. Controls get a score of 10 out of 10.

Performance:

The game runs perfectly on most gaming machines, even some obsolete ones. I never saw lag, not even once during any part of this game. The levels load up quickly as well. Performance gets a score of 10 out of 10.

My history with this game:

This was one of over 300 games I bought during the Steam holiday sale. Although the game is short I enjoyed playing it as much nearly as when I played Castlevania: Symphony of the Night for the first time. I would recommend it to people who like that game a lot, who are PC gamers.