Have You Played… The Lost Vikings?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Aka ‘what one half of Blizzard made before Warcraft.’ When I was a clueless British schoolboy, The Lost Vikings seemed to be a much bigger deal on this side of the pond than Warcraft, but I’m probably just saying that as someone who happened to play the demo when he was just that little bit more impressionable than he was two years later. When I played that demo, I had to have the full thing immediately.

The three characters seemed so likeable, so big on personality in a way that the mostly dry PC fare of the time was not – it was as close as I’d yet gotten to the console games I’d never had my own access to. This was an early version of the Blizzard slickness we see today, of course, that chumminess and cleanness and approachability, almost to the point of superficiality or obviousness. It gets people onboard, and in The Lost Viking’s triptych of foolhardy but stoic marauders who found themselves unexpectedly trapped on board an alien spaceship, I was as caught in the spell as a boy can be.

How does it hold up today? I’m not entirely sure I want to find out. At the time, I was so relieved to find a game that looked like a platformer but played out more slowly and thoughtfully, requiring puzzle-solving nous rather than the manic reflexiveness of Mario or Sonic. I want to keep the dream that it was a clever game full of great sight gags alive, and playing it would be the fastest way to kill it off. However, it is available for free and modern PC-friendly (thanks to built-in DOSbox) from Blizzard now, so if you want to go and shatter a few childhood illusions, be my guest.

30 Comments

  1. JD Ogre says:

    Used to love it on my Amiga 500, but for some reason the DOS version left me cold… No idea why, but I just couldn’t stand it. :(

  2. cpt_freakout says:

    I also played this with all the excitement in the world when I was a kid. I even drew and colored my own posters, like it was a band, and pasted them next to my older brother’s grunge paraphernalia. I also haven’t played it since, but I wouldn’t mind finding out my 2015 self thinks it’s terrible, because that won’t erase how incredibly awesome it was back then for me. So thanks for the link – another oldie for the “to play” list!

  3. Koozer says:

    I have a more recent GBA port, and it’s still a great game, especially the music. I’m still stuck in a factory if I recall.

  4. derbefrier says:

    Loved this game. Still play it the console version on emulators every once and a while.

  5. Ishy says:

    Unless I’m insane, there was a sequel called Norse by Norsewest on PC. Played a ton of it coop when I was young.

    • PlaneShift says:

      Yes, it exists, and I loved it. It is a true evolution of the original game. I do not understand why it is on a limbo that no one talks about it, even Blizzard itself.

    • Turkey says:

      Yeah, there’s a SNES version that looks like Lost Vikings 1 and then there’s a weird PC version with pre-rendered 3d models.

    • Rancorist says:

      Yeah I loved it to bits too. My dad was the producer of that game and still has the source code kicking around on a floppy disk somewhere haha.

      • ansionnach says:

        Since the game came on CD, that’d be several hundred floppies, right?!?

  6. sonofsanta says:

    You can also play it for free in your browser at the Internet Archive (along with 2300 other DOS games): The Lost Vikings : Silicon & Synapse, Inc. : Free Streaming : Internet Archive

  7. Hex says:

    Oh shit. Blackthorne, too! Maybe I’ll finally finish it….

  8. Jim Rossignol says:

    “All games are Lost Vikings, no games are Lost Vikings, the difference is in the dose.” – Paracelsus

  9. PlaneShift says:

    You do not need to be worried about being disappointed today. This game aged very well. I’d say that if it were released today it would be considered one of those unique indie game with a retro style and receive a lot of praise just like Shovel Knight. The gameplay was unique and it is still unique to this day. Not even Trine managed to play like this one. I am still waiting for a true spiritual sequel.

    But if anyone wants to try this game, I would recommend getting it on a SNES emulator. I am not sure if the PC version supports gamepads or allow for key rebinding. Also, the game never had a save function, relying on passwords to keep your progress. I’d much prefer an emulator savestate function.

    • Tomhai says:

      Second that. The game has aged extremely well exept the fact that without savegame it’s just… no…no… too hard. Play it on a SNES emulator to have savegame and i dare you to find anything coming close to that gameplay amongst modern games.

    • Czrly says:

      I played it again a few years ago and finished it without any emulator state-saving tricks. You can write down the level codes, although some levels are still “Nintendo Hard” – and for similar reasons – dodgy hit detection and wot not.

      That said, it has aged exceptionally well. You can probably even play it with a game-pad, today, perhaps even enhancing the experience.

  10. plugav says:

    Charming game. And an important one for my development, as it introduced me to two new concepts: puzzle platformers and sucking at puzzle platformers.

  11. Al Bobo says:

    I have this game on my computer and it’s still tricky :)

  12. Premium User Badge

    phuzz says:

    hmm, turns out I’ve played two Blizzard games in my life. I thought the only one I’d played was Battle Chess.

  13. amateurviking says:

    I had this on the SNES. It was ace.

  14. jalf says:

    Is it sad that I can still remember the code for the final level?

    (SPOILER: ‘MSTR’)

    I spent *a lot* of time on this game back in the day. Actually, I replayed a big chunk of it some 5-8 years ago, and back then at least, I thought it’d aged very well.

  15. DizzyCriminal says:

    Yes I have, and I’ll probably never see what is beyond the level FNTM :(

  16. Joshua Northey says:

    Its no “Rock and Roll Racing” that is for sure.

  17. Robert Post's Child says:

    I’m pretty sure this is one of those games they used to have available to rent an hour at a time in hotel rooms. It became a weird kind of comforting/frustrating thing when my family traveled when I was a kid, as basically anywhere we went I could go play this game again – but also have to go through the beginning all over again, every time, and never getting anywhere. Would be kinda weird to try it again now.

  18. Rufust Firefly says:

    I really liked Norse by Norsewest, on the PlayStation or Saturn (can’t remember which), though I don’t recall if I ever finished it.

    The Vikings talked a lot of smack if you repeatedly failed a level, like I was wont to do.
    “New level? New level? I wouldn’t know what to do with a new level!?!”

    Since that was my first exposure to Blizzard, I thought of them as “those Lost Vikings guys” when I first saw StarCraft.

  19. benkc says:

    Huh, I never realized this was on other platforms besides SNES. I loved Lost Vikings (and Rock n Roll Racing, which I doubt aged as well).

  20. Premium User Badge

    Ninja Dodo says:

    This game was magnificent. Really difficult as well though managed to finish it after many attempts. I remember the last Egypt and Candy levels being especially hard. There was some really tricky timing with an elevator going down and having to switch rapidly between vikings. Enjoyed the sequel too although I never got to the end. Got stuck somewhere in future/robot world.

  21. Barchester says:

    “How does it hold up today? I’m not entirely sure I want to find out.”

    It holds up excellently. If you don’t mind the old-school graphics, it’s still a wonderful game.