Niche games: Âwe’ve all played them. ÂThey’re the games that you remember for a long time because they’re so unique. ÂSometimes they’re the only ones ever made like them. ÂOther times they were trailblazers for their kind of gameplay. ÂBut what they have in common is the bravery to try something new, allowing them to rise above the imitators. ÂEven though there might be newer games with shinier graphics, these games are still worth playing because they’re something different, something special.
In the mood for a puzzle game?Â Give The Lost Vikings and/or The Lost Vikings 2 a try.Â I originally played both on the SNES, but they’ve been on several other platforms, including PC, Playstation, Sega Genesis, and Nintendo DS.Â It a 2-D platform-based puzzle game based around time-traveling Vikings.
In the intro sequence, the three Vikings are abducted from their homes by the evil alien overlord Tomator.Â They manage to escape through a time portal which takes them to to Prehistoric times.Â You control each of the Vikings, one at a time, and you must work your way to the exit.Â All three have to be at the exit or you can’t move on.Â Each Viking has his own unique abilities, and you’ll have to use each of them to fullest advantage to make it through the levels.
Baleog the Fierce is the guy on the left on the title screen with the yellow mustache.Â He’s the fighter of the group.Â He can attack enemies with his sword or his arrows.Â He can also hit switches with his arrows from a distance.Â Erik the Swift is the guy in the middle with the red beard.Â He’s the most maneuverable of the group.Â As his name suggests, he does run faster than the others.Â He’s also the only one in the group who can jump (I guess the other guys are weighed down by their gear).Â He can lower his head like a battering ram, which can knock down walls and kill some enemies.Â Olaf the Stout is the, uh, stout guy on the right with the shield.Â He’s the defender.Â His shield can block most enemies and projectiles.Â In addition he can raise his shield above his head for the other Vikings to use as a platform and this allows him to hang glide slowly down from high places.Â You can switch between any of these Vikings at any time with the push of a button, and the screen will zoom to their location.Â But always keep in mind that the Vikings you’re not directly controlling are simply standing there immobile.Â If you leave them in danger they will die.
The game is infused with a good sense of humor.Â The expressions when the Vikings fall too far is cartoonish and comical, and at the end of each level they bicker amongst themselves and make fun of each other.
As the game progresses, you travel through a series of time periods, each with their unique puzzle sets and enemies.Â The game keeps a great amount of variety this way.Â So in the “sweat shop” stages, there is a magnet crane which any character can jump in to move metal blocks around.Â If Olaf moves his shield above his head it can also be used to carry him around.Â Each time period has inherent features like this to keep things interesting.
Finally at the end the Vikings return to Tomator’s ship for a final confrontation.Â This is the only real boss battle in the game as each Viking faces off against Tomator using their own unique skills, and finally facing up against him with their skills combined in a single confrontation.Â To finally use the warriors’ skills in combat is gratifying and challenging after being up against
Each Viking has three bars on their health meter which can be replenished by eating food that can be carried with you.Â There are also lots of environmental dangers that cause instant death, so beware!Â If one of your Vikings dies, then you will not be able to complete the level, but you are still free to explore with your remaining characters as long as you want, letting you scout ahead.Â When you’re finished you can quit and restart.Â When you do this you’ll see a traditional Viking funeral with a burning ship, and then lightning bolts will strike and bring the dead Vikings back from the dead.Â Why?Â I don’t know, but the burning ship sequence is cool.Â There is no limit to the number of times you can restart a level, so
The game is on a password-based system, so all you have to do to come back to a level is remember a 4 digit password.Â This game is reasonably challenging.Â If you’ve never played it before, some of the levels will take you multiple tries to make it through.Â Some of the puzzles and levels are downright difficult, though the game never stopped being fun.
Unfortunately, this one’s not available for download for Nintendo Wii’s Virtual Console, but finding this game shouldn’t be any trouble, and shouldn’t cost you too much as long as you don’t demand a factory-sealed copy.Â A quick eBay search comes up with dozens of hits for multiple systems, most with “Buy It Now” prices under $20, as long as you are okay with “acceptable” condition.Â Alternatively, you can always search around for an emulator and a ROM for this game.
The Lost Vikings II
This article’s a two in one!Â The Lost Vikings II (known as Norse by Norsewest on certain game systems) is similar in most ways to the Lost Vikings.Â The first game was one of a kind, like nothing I’d ever seen before.Â The sequel was more of the same, but enhanced.Â If you liked the original, try this one out to fill your Lost Vikings craving.
In this one hey’ve done a nice job adding some new features to keep things fresh.Â Tomator abducts the Vikings again to enact revenge.Â The Vikings see him coming this time and get away in a fight, stealing some futuristic equipment on their way.Â Erik the Swift gets a new helmet that lets him breathe underwater and boots that let him jump once in mid-air.Â Baleog gets a bionic extendable arm which can grab things from a distance and allows him to swing from strategically placed swinging points.Â Olaf has a shrinking device that allows him to enter small spaces.Â Also, he has been eating gassy foods and has gained the “ability” to fart, which allows to smash certain blocks, and give him a boost in mid-air.
In addition to extra abilities, there are two new characters they pick up as they travel.Â Fang, a werewolf, can attack with his claws (nice to have another attacker in the group), can climb walls, and can jump.Â Scorch, a dragon, can “fly” to a limited degree, which is really just five midair jumps.Â He can also use his wings to glide slowly down to land safely from heights, and he has fireball projectiles.
The concept is basically the same.Â Your group travels through different time periods.Â Only 3 characters are in any given level, and all 3 characters must reach the end of a level to complete it.Â And, once again, you return to Tomator’s ship for a final confrontation.Â Easy peasy?Â Not so much.Â This game is as much a challenge as the last one, well worth the time it takes to complete.
Unfortunately, this one’s not available for download for Nintendo Wii’s Virtual Console, but finding this game shouldn’t be any trouble, and shouldn’t cost you too much as long as you don’t demand a factory-sealed copy.Â A quick eBay search comes up with dozens of hits for multiple systems on both games, most with “Buy It Now” prices under $20, as long as you are okay with “acceptable” condition.Â Alternatively, you can always search around for an emulator and a ROM for this game.Â Enjoy!