Platform: GameBoy Advance

Genre: Puzzle / Platformer

Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment

Developer: Mass Media / Blizzard

ESRB: E (Everyone)

Released: Q2 2003

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The Lost Vikings

Score: 8.0 / 10



- Yep, it’s a classic

- Good balance of brains and quickness required

- Very good GBA translation

- Is old enough to be new




- Some puzzles will work you into a frustrated fit



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"Lost Vikings is more than a decade old but it’s in its prime on Nintendo’s handheld."


When it comes to classic games, The Lost Vikings is right up there – at least for me – so it was with quite a bit of nostalgia that I started into the GBA translation.  Lost Vikings (LV) is more than a decade old but it’s in its prime on Nintendo’s handheld.


lost vikings gameboy advance review          lost vikings gameboy advance review


LV may be a port but it’s a damn good one.  It’s also the most mind-stretching puzzle game (that plays a little like a side scrolling platformer) I’ve played in a long time.  This may be due to the mush-like consistency of my brain thanks to extended bouts of State of Emergency and Burnout 2: Point of Impact, but it’s more likely that Blizzard (and Mass Media) has created some of the most devious brain teasers ever.  This can be traced back to the three Vikings that the tale revolves around.


Olaf the Stout, Erik the Swift, and Baleog the Fierce are going about their Viking business when they are swept away by a UFO… for purposes unknown!  Working as a team they must find a way out of the ship.  It’s this “working as a team” that is the lynch pin that hold the entire game together.  Olaf possess a sturdy shield that can block projectiles and enemies and act as a parachute to slow his descent; Baleog wields a bow and short sword; and Erik can knock down fragile walls and leap high into the air.  In short, each has a skill the other two don’t and it’s only working as a unit that they can persevere.  In fact, if one character dies you can’t successfully finish a level.



The chief problem with puzzle games is the frustration threshold.  With LV, thinking gamers will be in their element, as most of the levels require quite a bit of gray matter exercise.  There is some careful timing required with some levels but mostly it boils down to performing the right steps to get you from point A to point B to the Exit.  This might mean positioning Olaf to block fireballs, then maneuvering Baleog to shoot a switch that will open a door and allow Erik to snag a key.


It’s straightforward until you hit some extremely tough puzzles.  Even at 30% completed you feel like you’ve accomplished something because some of the levels will seem impossible at first glance.  Even after the fifth glance some levels will have you muttering obscenities.  Though each Viking has three-hit health bar they can die instantly in numerous ways.  Falling too far, having a block dropped on your head, and falling in water, quicksand or spiked pits will kill you.  Be prepared to spend many run-throughs trying to reach the exit of each level – sometimes frustrating run-throughs.  You know what I'm writing of.  Arriving within sight of the end then screwing up and having to do the level over again.


lost vikings gameboy advance review          lost vikings gameboy advance review


Mastering the controls and the abilities of each character takes no time at all – managing inventory, switching characters, etc. is just easy.  It doesn’t present any problems to solving the various puzzles.  Neither do the graphics, which are a perfect translation from the original – big, bright and well animated.


Something else that made it over from the original is the amount of humor.  At the close of each level the three Vikings bicker or offer commentary on “waterfalls that just hang in the air.”  Repeatedly screw up a level and they’ll even turn on you with comments like, “Player, we’re tired of doing this level!”  It’s an attitude that serves the game well.


If you weren’t around when The Lost Vikings hit the world of gaming, now’s the time.  You’ll get a puzzle game that will exercise your brain.  For those that have already experienced Lost Vikings, enough time has passed for you to forget the solutions and enjoy the Norse answer to the Three Stooges.


- Omni

(May 3, 2003)