Yes, Blizzard – or Silicon & Synapse, as they were then known – have revisited their old puzzle-platformer The Lost Vikings. In a manner of speaking. In a way that’s both very cruel and a big ol’ willy-wave.
They’ve only gone and put a vertical shoot ’em up in StarCraft II. Just because. It stars a Viking aircraft. It’s lost. You get the picture: the fickle finger of fanservice.
It’s more than that, though. It’s war.
I’m still only a short way through SC2’s campaign, and while the storyline and the characterisation (over-growly hero Jim Raynor is no fun, so far) leave a lot to be desired, revealing that Blizzard are a developer who do mechanics first, polish second and grown-up narrative somewhere much further down the scale, I’m repeatedly impressed with all the incidental detail. The cover of An American Trilogy on the jukebox. The Ron Burgundy newsman, the space marine iPod ads, the hapless animals in the levels…
And the fully-functional arcade machine in the between-mission bar hub. It’s clearly a demonstration of the much-ballyhooed point that the SC2 editor can be used to create games of other genres, that for all the StarCraft brand-mania this game is a platform as well as a real-time strategy sequel.
I think Lost Viking may even be an act of war. Blizzard want anything-goes modding, they want indie development, they want ubiquity in a way that WoW’s closed system could never provide. They’re straying onto Valve’s territory, Epic’s territory, Unity’s territory – and not in a casual, let’s see what happens way.
Now please re-release the Lost Vikings.