Monday, May 16, 2011

The Lost Vikings (SNES)

Time Played: 2 hours

What Happened:

It felt like this game came up a lot in conversation during the last few months, so I wanted to play it to really understand what everyone was talking about.

If you're like me, and didn't play it when it came out in 1995, the game works like this: you control 3 different vikings. You can only control one at a time, and must get all 3 of them through various traversal puzzles (stuff like finding keys, avoiding enemies, hitting switches, getting over pits). They all possess different abilities - they have multiple abilities, but at a simplified level, one can block, one can jump, and one can fight. If any of them dies, you fail the level. You can restart the level at any time because it is possible to get stuck.

What I Liked:
Mechanics. And of course this is the reason that people remember and bring up the game. The idea of controlling 3 characters and using them cooperatively is really cool, and hasn't used in a lot of other games. I like it because you build a different connection with each character - in one level I think the shield guy is the best and most useful, and I'm extra fond of him, then in the next it's all about the jumping guy. ;) I think because there are 3 you feel as though you are working with them, as opposed to 'being' one of them, and I think that this is a near paradigm. The levels were well designed to make you use all of them, and value all 3 of them.

Music. The music was energetic, which is something I always appreciate - especially in puzzle games. I particularly liked the spaceship level music.

Environments. I thought the overall levels were cool. Levels progressed through themes - for example the first few were on a spaceship, and so art was reused across those levels, the next few were jungle levels, and then caves. I liked the visuals and was excited to see what was coming up next.

What I Didn't Like:
No narrative. Not that this is really a problem, I just suspect that this is why I haven't picked the game back up, and what makes me think of it as a 'rainy day' game. Nothing is really calling out to me - I feel that I have seen the basics of what this game has to offer, and continued gameplay will offer more of the same.

Communication. This is a game from 1995, so I'm not going to be super harsh - but there were a few times that I got stuck just because things were not communicated well. For example, in one of the spaceship levels, a piece of artwork is meant to be viewed as a foreground element that you walk behind, but I read it as a wall, and got completely stuck in the level until Issam pointed it out. There's also on where you ride in bubbles - but when I first saw the bubbles it was completely inconceivable that I would be able to ride in one of them. :) I think this has much more to do with it being 16 years old.

How Do I Feel About Continuing?:
I had fun and I'm interested in picking it up again. That being said, it's a puzzle game, so there's no overall story which is drawing me back in to it, which I think is why I haven't picked it up in the month since I first played it. I would personally classify this as another rainy day game - fun if I want to kill some time, but it's certainly not calling to me from the shelf.

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