Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock this week, you probably heard about a little game called Starcraft 2 that just came out. The original “Warcraft in space” is my all time favorite game, and so I’ve been playing the slick new sequel every spare minute. A few hours into the game, you enter the cantina, and in one corner is a playable old school arcade game. Titled “The Lost Viking”, the game is a very retro, Gradius-like outer space shooter. Long time Blizzard fans will recognzie the title as an easter egg, hearkening back to Blizzard’s first game from way back in 1992, The Lost Vikings.
Back in 1992, if you were a gamer, chances are you had a Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, or an MS-DOS PC. The Lost Vikings was released for each of these three platforms by Interplay, and was developed by Silicon and Synapse, the company which eventually became known as Blizzard. As the game begins, three vikings are abducted in the middle of the night by an alien starship, controlled by Tomator of the Croutonian Empire. They must work together, using their own unique talents, to overcome various traps, enemies, and other obstacles as they attempt to escape Tomator’s plans to place them in an intergalactic zoo.
Erik the Swift is a slim, red-headed Viking, and as you’d expect from his nickname, he’s significantly faster than the other two. Erik can jump great distances, and can head-butt enemies and certain walls, after which he spins around in a daze momentarily. Baleog the Fierce is described as a “stud” in the game, and he live up to his name by wielding his weapons: enemies fall before his sword strikes, and he can shoot arrows to damage foes or activate switches. Last, but not least (as far as girth goes) is Olaf the Stout. Olaf’s shield is indestructible, and can also be used as a makeshift hang glider, or held on top of Olaf’s head to allow Erik a platform to jump onto to reach tall areas.
The Norse trio fight their way through a series of clever levels designed to take advantage of their abilities. The spaceship itself provides the first challenge, and then the Vikings are sent through time back to Prehistoria. After battling cavemen, they find a portal to ancient Egypt, which is full of mummies and scorpions, naturally. Next on the list is a Factory, full of industrialized terrors, and then we come to a stage known as “Wacky”, which is about as trippy and odd a level as you’ll find. Finally, it’s back to the spaceship for a final showdown with Tomator. As you can tell, the levels are creative, and have a totally different feel from one another. All the attention to detail that Blizzard would become famous for is evident in The Lost Vikings.