The Lost Vikings was originally released for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, then subsequently released for the Amiga, Amiga CD32, MS-DOS, and Sega Mega Drive/Sega Genesis systems the next year; the Mega Drive/Genesis version contains five stages not present in any other version of the game. Blizzard re-released the game for the Game Boy Advance in 2003. The GBA port is identical to the SNES version, but the password feature has been removed and replaced with three save slots, meaning the player cannot replay any level at any time.
The game features infinite opportunities of retries in case the player loses one of the Vikings. Art director Samwise Didier has stated that the character design for 'Erik the Swift' was based on childhood friend Michael Cripps.
In 2014 the game was added to Battle.net as a free download emulated through DOSBox.
In the game, the three Vikings get kidnapped by Tomator, emperor of the alien Croutonian empire, for an inter-galactic zoo and become lost in various periods of time. After escaping through the airlock of the spaceship, they must traverse various bizarre locations to find their way home.
All three Vikings (Erik, Baleog and Olaf) have three health points which they can lose by getting hurt by enemies or by falling from great heights, and the ability to carry and use items, mainly keys, bombs, and food (which restore health points). Each of the Vikings has a unique set of abilities:
Erik can run faster than the other two, can jump, and can bash through some walls (and enemies) with his helmet.
Baleog can kill enemies with his sword, or from a distance with his bow (and a 'life-time supply of arrows'). The bow can also be used to hit switches from a distance.
Olaf can block enemies and their projectiles with his shield, use his shield as a hang glider, or as a stepping stone for Erik to enable him to reach high grounds which is not possible without the shield.