There is more I know about the actual Vikings than there is about the fictional cartoon characters to be found in The Lost Vikings. That's an easy thing to say, though, when what you know about The Lost Vikings is that there are - one assumes - some Vikings who are lost.
I couldn't tell you anything about this game before going into it, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that the introduction cinematic of sorts doubles as a demonstration of each character's abilities - abilities that, like they showed while out hunting for food, you'll have to use in unison in order to make it through this puzzle platformer.
Sounds great - in terms of both concept and music - so let's get pillag-playing, let's get playing.
Our three heroes, Erik the Swift, Baleog the Fierce, and Olaf the Stout, have been abducted by an unknown alien force for no doubt nefarious purposes, and just like they do in their day to day lives, they'll be using teamwork in order to find out what's going on and put a stop to it.
As their names imply, each Viking has a different play style which will get used both on its own and in conjunction with the other two Vikings, depending on the complexity of the puzzle they face. Olaf uses his shield to block attacks, naturally, so moving him into position to block off a gun turret allows Erik and Baleog to safely pass and make progress through the stage.
Erik can knock over walls and jump great distances, even off Olaf's shield if needed, and Baleog uses both a sword and bow to damage enemies near and far. Slowly but surely, you use these abilities when the need arises - along with items such as keys and bombs - in order to make it to the stage exit and enter the next level.
Or that's the plan at least.
Each stage can only be completed when all three Vikings are at the exit, whereupon they have a brief, humorous chat amongst themselves before the next stage is ready for you. If you only manage to get two Vikings to the end, because the other Viking is dead - each is capable of taking three hits before dying - then the stage cannot be completed, and you'll have to start it all over again.
This isn't too bad - you can at least explore what lies ahead in the stage, even if you can't complete it - but eventually it'll start to wear on you, especially when little mistakes creep into your game.
It's easy to get hit multiple times by the same enemy while you fumble your way out of the problem. Perhaps you got your controls confused or were controlling the wrong Viking at the wrong time, for example. Now you're left with one point of health, no healing items, about to face a tricky puzzle that requires that injured Viking to be precise in his actions...
When things are going well for you, you still have the problem of having to juggle between characters just to catch them up with each other. There is no computer control here; you've got to move each Viking up into place one by one, each and every time you decide to camp for a little bit.
It's a minor quibble, of course it is, but it slows down what is actually a fairly slick game.
At least, the early levels that I've gotten through present it to be pretty slick. I like the way it looks and plays, and the setting and story are certainly unlike anything I've seen before, but none of it is enough to really grab me.
The mix of puzzles and platforming is fine, but sometimes it feels like the puzzles have to be big and stretched out in order to accommodate the platforming and vice versa. It's not enough to completely rule out playing The Lost Vikings, but there came a point where I thought 'Yup, I've got the gist of it' and that was that.
I haven't watched it being played at all, however, so I'm leaving a small window of hope that I'll play it some more, but I wouldn't say it's likely to be played for a while. By no means is it bad - it's really quite good, across the board - I just don't see myself getting much out of it, I guess.
The Lost Vikings is easily worth playing then, but for how long?
I have so few facts about The Lost Vikings that the most interesting one is that developers Silicon & Synapse would go on to become Blizzard Entertainment. That Blizzard.
The Lost Vikings, developed by Silicon & Synapse, first released in 1992.
Version played: SNES, 1992, via emulation.