sorceressParticipantJuly 5, 2021 at 6:26 pm #4717
I tried Lost Vikings for the first time last week, and I have to say it’s not for me.
I didn’t plan to write a post saying this at the time, but I’ve changed my mind. :p
!explain lost vikings
< dosbot > The Lost Vikings is a puzzle-platform game developed by Silicon & Synapse (now Blizzard Entertainment) and published by Interplay. It was originally released for the Super NES in 1993, then subsequently released for the Amiga, Amiga CD32, MS-DOS, and Mega Drive/Genesis systems; the Mega Drive/Genesis version contains five stages not present in any other version of the game, and can also be played by three players simultaneously. Blizzard re-released the game for the Game Boy Advance in 2003.
So basically, you have three characters, which you can freely switch between. The first has a sword and bow to attack. The second is fast and can jump. The third has a shield which absorbs damage if facing the right way.
The game consists of disabling forcefield with switches, killing the occasional slime monster with the sword guy, and blocking laser zaps with the shield guy, while the jump guy can find other routes, because of his jump skill. And they all have to get to the end.
This gameplay felt quite slow and tedious to me. There is nothing tactical about the game, just logic and doing stuff in the right order. The combat is no more than putting the sword guy in the right place to get the slimes, or the shield guy in the right place to block the lasers, then a bit of backtracking once you do the switches.
It’s a bit reminiscent of Blackthorne in that sense – slow with dull combat. And that was another Blizzard title. So maybe that was their style back then.
The art is quite good for the time I guess, with big cartoony sprites, and that’s something the game has to it’s credit.
I grew out of puzzle games when I was quite young, and I find it hard to enjoy games which offer me little besides logic.July 6, 2021 at 1:59 am #4718
The game definitely has some rough patches.
It doesn’t feel slow to me per se, but it is a little tedious in some ways. Most of this comes directly or indirectly from the password system carried over from the consoles.
One of the biggest annoyances, for example, is having to redo levels right from the start if you mess up. It also makes secrets less satisfying to find, as you don’t carry anything over to the next level.
To me it also feels a tad too long by about 1/4 and the controls seem a bit weird. Ctrl and ins to switch back and forth between vikings? (Not sure if they can be remapped)
That being said, none of those complaints are too fatal for me. I still enjoy it – the mechanics and game loop are imaginative without trying too hard, the puzzles are clever but not too fiendish, and it’s really nice that they make an effort to keep us engaged with the characters through regular dialogue. (Even if their banter is a bit lame at times!)July 6, 2021 at 6:18 am #4720
The controls cannot be remapped.
The idea is to use the arrow block (reverse T) for motion, and Right Ctrl (with your thumb) and NumPad 0 (with your pinky) to switch Vikings.
Of course, I only realized it in hindsight, since I got into the habit of playing with the numerical keypad. So I was using the NumPad 0 with my thumb, and Left Ctrl with my left hand.
Little did I know, that for people like me, they also mapped the Viking switch keys to Pad7/Pad9.
The thing that I _did_ do correctly was using ESDF for the action, instead of relying on Spacebar. ESDF was remarkably intuitive and I have since adopted it to use in some other games.July 6, 2021 at 9:55 am #4721
Oh… I see. I guess there’s some logic there haha! I’ll try that scheme the way it’s intended from now on!
I still think it would have been nice to simply map the vikings to the numbers 123 though…July 6, 2021 at 10:21 am #4722
Good point! They probably just lifted the logic “as is” from the console versions, which had controllers with limited number of buttons. They probably didn’t have functions like SelectVikingX() but just MoveToNextViking() and MoveToPreviousViking()…July 8, 2021 at 7:51 pm #4734
I also was a bit underwhelmed with this game after the first few levels tbh. My initial impression was very good, but after doing a handful of levels it started to be a bit repetitive.
However now that I’m over 12 levels in, the difficulty is really starting to ramp up, which makes the whole thing a lot more interesting imho!July 9, 2021 at 2:37 pm #4744
One word of warning is that the ability to lose a full level worth of effort by dying seconds away from the exit never lets go and never stops frustrating.
You just have to suck it up and keep going. Remember this as you approach the TTRS level. Then figure out why the password is “TTRS”. 😛July 9, 2021 at 10:46 pm #4747
Luckily there are Dosbox ports which feature save state support 😛July 12, 2021 at 12:21 pm #4750
I played this some years back but didn’t remember it all that well. This month might as well be the first time and I think it holds up well enough. It’s kept me hooked so far and I think I’m only a few levels off the end now.
It does start off really easy, I can see how it might put people off but it does teach the basics. The learning curve is quite gentle really but on these later levels the difficulty has been punishing. I just did a level where right at the end, you have to put all the vikings on a moving platform, swapping between them as it moves to dash off to the side to perform tasks and get back on it again. It’s not THAT hard when you know what to do but you have to learn by failing. I’m having to replay these levels so many times to figure out what to do. Some of this level design is outright aiming to make you replay the earlier parts over and over. I reckon it just about gets away with it by having smallish levels and not ramping the difficulty up until quite late on. I’d like to think it won’t get too much tougher in the last couple of levels or I may change my mind.
Is there any way to look around the level that I’m missing? I feel it could really use it so that I could plan ahead instead of all this trial and error.
One other thing I noticed – a couple of the puzzles rely on shooting an arrow then tracking to another viking further on the flightpath so that the game engine doesn’t destroy the arrow when it goes off screen. I really don’t like this sort of puzzle. It’s like the designers found a flaw in their game engine and instead of fixing it, made puzzles around it.July 12, 2021 at 12:25 pm #4751
Yeah, I was surprised by the arrow tracking thing too. But honestly it’s also pretty cool. It would have been nicer if it had been exclusively used for secrets instead of requiring it to make progress at all, but maybe that’s also just part of the oldschool way of game design.
In a similar vein the game sometimes require you to find other secrets in order to progress, which is a bit jarring, but at least this way the secrets actually play a role for me, as I mostly ignore optional stuff when I can haha
All in all the game is really growing on me and I’ve enjoyed the 2nd 12 levels more than the first 12. I’m now excited about pushing through until the very end.
Btw: there isn’t a way to look around as far as I’m aware, so in reality the first couple of runs are for mapping out the level, coming up with a plan and only then the actual solving begins.July 12, 2021 at 1:12 pm #4752
Pix, that’s the TRPD level, with the platform moving down towards the portal, right?
I agree that a lot of these puzzles are based on trial-and-error and are almost impossible to figure out intuitively. Especially considering that sometimes you have to make split-second decisions or else you lose.July 12, 2021 at 4:01 pm #4753
Yes, that’s the one. You can’t even see what’s coming before you get there. The first time I just send one person down because I don’t know any better, then the next time I manage the first bit with Olaf but hadn’t seen Erik’s section below so I screw that up. That takes me a couple more attempts to learn until I get everything right except I mistime the last of the arrow targets so everyone dies again. I’m having to replay the whole level every time to get that far. It’s evil design.
The game would arguably be too short and easy without this sort of thing though. I almost always do better with each attempt so I’m still enjoying it. Decent platform games were thin on the ground on the PC when this came out – I reckon it has to have been one of the best available at the time.July 12, 2021 at 4:24 pm #4754
Yeah, I feel the same way. In the beginning I was frustrated by the occasional death, but in later levels they just become part of the game loop. Having to do each level several times before you get it right might not be the best game design, but I still find it pretty enjoyable to play all in all.July 13, 2021 at 11:04 am #4756
Finished! It didn’t get any easier – the last 4 levels literally took me all evening. I reckon I must have spent about 75% of my time on Lost Vikings on the last 8 or 9 levels. I’m still up for more this month so I’m going straight to the sequel.July 13, 2021 at 11:40 am #4757
Nice! I’m currently at level 26, just starting the “wacky” world which introduces the inflation mechanic.July 19, 2021 at 6:48 am #4775
I’m currently on the TRDR level (level 30 I think?), and I’m definitely feeling the same thing I did last time I played this 10 or 15 years ago – the game feels too long by about 1/4.
I feel ready to fight the boss and be satisfied finishing the game, but there’s still 8 or 10 levels left!
I think it is in part because there is only a password system and no saves, so you get only limited sense of progress and achievement.
I also think we’re so trained to be used to threes – three episodes in games, three acts in a play or movie etc.
Lost Vikings has – what – 4 or 5 worlds? And then you even go back to the first one the last stretch.
I dunno. Maybe I’m the only one that feels this way. Does anybody else think it’s too long?
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