Norse by Norsewest: The Return of the Lost Viking
Following their victory in The Lost Vikings, Erik the Swift, Baleog the Fierce and Olaf the Stout returned to their village and took up their normal Viking pursuits of fishing and plundering. But a specter from the past is stalking our heroes. Tomator is still stinging from his defeat at the brothers' hands ... and he wants revenge.
Fortunately for our heroes, Tomator is pretty sloppy for an alien evil genius. Once again his ship malfunctions, and this time the Viking brothers are ready. They have escaped once again and grabbed some of Tomator's high-tech equipment. Armed with their new toys -- rocket boots, light saber, and power shield -- they are searching throughout time for the way back home.
Along the way they will meet two new allies, a sarcastic werewolf named Fang and a dragon named Scorch. With their help the Viking brothers will fight off an entirely new cast of enemies, find hidden items and use teamwork to tackle strange new worlds, ranging from Transylvania to a pirate cove.
Norse by Norsewest is a challenging puzzle game. You control your characters using the keyboard, guiding them through 31 levels as they search for the way back home. Each character has unique abilities -- Erik can use his rocket boots to break down walls and jump to high ledges; Olaf can wield his heavy shield to block fiery spitballs, making it safe for his brothers to pass by; and Baleog hacks and slashes foes with his sword or bionic arm or uses the arm as a grappling hook, enabling him to grab objects the others can't reach.
In addition to the three brothers, you will encounter two other characters. Fang the werewolf can climb walls and attack enemies with his claws or bite, and Scorch the dragon flies and breathes fire. Since you can only have three characters in play at one time, one brother will be missing when Fang or Scorch are in play.
The levels in Norse by Norsewest start with fairly simple puzzles; the first few provide a good tutorial on using all the special abilities of the characters. Soon they become more complex, and it will take the teamwork of all three active characters to complete the level. As you switch between controlling each character, the others will wait patiently until you need them. You do need to make sure you leave them in a safe place, as enemies can (and will) attack them while you are occupied elsewhere. The game does include a two-player mode, but it requires both players to use the same keyboard, and the screen often won't display both players' characters at the same time. Multiplayer play would have been much nicer if you could link two (or three) computers together. Hopefully the next episode in the Lost Vikings saga will improve this.
Norse by Norsewest looks great -- the level backgrounds are detailed and the character animations are fantastic. Each character's actions are detailed and the animation is smooth. The Windows 95 version of the game does have a problem with display size -- the default size is a 320x200 window, which is too small on most systems. It can be set to 640x480, but it still doesn't match the full-screen display you get with the DOS version.
The sound in the game is mostly well-done. The effects for each character's actions are fun to listen to (especially Olaf's farts), and the voice acting is top-notch. Everything talks, even many of the hint boxes. Each character's voice is completely different and all are easy to understand. The dialogue is hilarious; it's filled with various movie quotes and provides a lot of the story for the game. The background music is somewhat repetitive, but not annoyingly so, and it blends well with the gameplay.
Although the documentation for Norse by Norsewest is fairly small, it is well-written and contains everything you need to know to play the game. Most players won't need to look at it, though, as almost everything you will need to know about playing can be learned from the help boxes in the first few levels. It is worth reading the background information in the manual and on Interplay's web site -- it's funny stuff.
System Requirements and Comments
Windows 95: Pentium 60, 16 MB RAM, mouse, DirectX-compatible sound card, 2X CD-ROM drive
DOS: 486DX4100, 16 MB RAM, mouse, SoundBlaster-compatible sound card, 2X CD-ROM drive
Norse by Norsewest is also available for the Sony Playstation and the Sega Saturn.
Norse by Norsewest is an enjoyable blend of cute animation, mind-stretching puzzles and an amusing plot. Getting through all the levels takes patience and practice. Fans of puzzle/strategy games will have hours of fun trying to get the Viking brothers home again. I highly recommend Norse by Norsewest to anyone looking for a challenge.