Blizzard's story started very modestly in 1990 at the University of California. There, the young graduate Allen Adham convinced his friends Frank Pearce and Mike Morhaime of the crazy idea of ​​founding a game company called Silicon & Synapse with him. Morhaime even borrowed $ 15,000 from his grandmother for this purpose, without knowing whether he could ever repay her.

One studio, many names
The Blizzard company was originally founded under the title Silicon & Synapse. After three years, however, it was decided to rename Chaos Studios, but had to take the title again a few months later. They then agreed on Ogre Studios as the new company name, but Blizzard's new lender Davidson & Associates declined. It wasn't until 1994 that the team found a solution that everyone was happy with – and so the studio was officially renamed Blizzard Entertainment.
Silicon & Synapse started operating in February 1991. At first the small team started Port games from other companies to Amiga and Mac, Not a glorious task, but Pearce later explained that this time was an ideal learning phase for the young studio, because it allowed you to study the code of many other games and train your skills. Silicon & Synapse was also one of the first American studios to develop for the then brand new Super Nintendo. In addition to porting work for other companies, Blizzard also programmed a project for this, the little-noticed action racing game RPM Racing (1991), for which Blizzard worked together with Interplay. Since RPM Racing should get a better successor later, we leave it here with a mere mention, in the video you can also see the early work in action,







Blizzard's first own project: The forgotten RPM Racing.



Blizzard's first own project: The forgotten RPM Racing.

Source: Blizzard Entertainment




The team then quickly grew to 20 creative minds. At that time, the company's founders were plagued by financial problems and borrowed more money to be able to pay their employees. Only when the studio made a takeover offer in 1994 Davidson & Associates received, Blizzard's financial future was assured. After first successes like The Lost Vikings, the Californians succeeded with the PC hit Warcraft then the breakthrough finally,

On these pages, we are devoting ourselves to some of Blizzard's early works: Little games from a time when Warcraft, Diablo, Overwatch and Starcraft were still far away from the future.

Blizzard's first hit! With clever gameplay and a lot of humor, the Viking adventure secured a loyal fan base.

Published: 1992
Genre: Puzzler / platformer
Number of players: 1-2
platforms: Super Nintendo, Sega Mega Drive, Amiga, MS-DOS, Gameboy Advance (2003)







Funny heroes, clever puzzle design: the charming Lost Vikings convinced with good ideas.



Funny heroes, clever puzzle design: the charming Lost Vikings convinced with good ideas.

Source: Mobygames




Those who grew up with Warcraft, Diablo and Starcraft should be surprised by The Lost Vikings – because at first glance the gameplay has nothing in common with typical Blizzard titles. But the game exudes so much charm from the first moment that it is still there today – 27 years after its first release! – offers a fun gaming experience. Heartwarming characters, clever puzzle design, a crazy game idea – no wonder that The Lost Vikings is still one of Blizzard's favorite brands.

The first concepts of the game were – as so often – far from the end result. Blizzard had been inspired by the classic Lemmings puzzle and designed a similar system with dozens of different Vikings. Over time, however, Blizzard removed more and more of these characters from the project, leaving only three Viking brothers in the end: Erik the Nimble, Olaf the Strong and Baleog the Terrible.






The iconic Viking adventure was Blizzard's first hit.



The iconic Viking adventure was Blizzard's first hit.

Source: Blizzard Entertainment











The Vikings have to work together. Here Olaf blocks deadly projectiles with his shield.



The Vikings have to work together. Here Olaf blocks deadly projectiles with his shield.

Source: Mobygames




The game begins with an intro sequence in which the three heroes are kidnapped onto the evil Tomator's spaceship. This villain searches the whole galaxy for interesting species and then exhibits them in his zoo. The Viking trio now has the task of fleeing the ship and finding a way back home. Each of the three has certain strengths: Erik, for example, can jump and tear down walls if he bangs his head against it. Olaf, however, has a shield that he uses to ward off attacks. At the push of a button, he holds the shield over his head so that Erik can also use it as a platform. In addition, Olaf sails gently to the ground with the shield, reaching undamaged low-lying places. Ultimately, Baleog is responsible for the rough: with his sword, he beats down opponents and with his bow, he activates switches far away.

All three brothers have to reach the exit alive in every level, which can be damn tricky at times. Because the levels are tricky, full of obstacles, blocked gates and remote switches. You can't get very far without a combination, you have to constantly switch back and forth between the Vikings and combine their strengths – The Lost Vikings is therefore more of a puzzle than Jump & Run. The colorful graphics with their comic-like characters are also harmonious, many dialogues are rough and humorous the soundtrack is just great: Already in the main menu you can hear booming beats together with roaring vikings – cool and atmospheric.

Blizzard still likes to refer to his puzzle hit today: In the World of Warcraft instance Uldaman, for example, you can find the three Vikings as quest givers. In Heroes of the Storm, the trio is even included as a playable group. And in Starcraft 2 there is a mini-game (in the Hyperion cantina) called "The Lost Viking". Then as now: The Vikings are cult!

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Heroes of the Storm: The Lost Vikings are here – funny trailer

Loud music, fat carts – Blizzard's second excursion into the racing game genre.

Published: June 4, 1993
Genre: Racing / Action game
Number of players: 1-2
platforms: Super Nintendo, Sega Mega Drive, Gameboy Advance (2003)

Before the success of The Lost Vikings, Blizzard had already started its own project: The simple racing game RPM Racing was a remake of a C64 title by Electronic Arts, appeared for the Super Nintendo and was actually not really interested. Only after The Lost Vikings did the team attempt a second racing game – and it succeeded! For Rock 'N Roll Racing, released in 1993, Blizzard received a lot of critical acclaim.






Rock N '& nbsp; Roll Racing was the unofficial sequel to RPM Racing.



Rock N 'Roll Racing was the unofficial sequel to RPM Racing.

Source: Blizzard Entertainment











Loud music, colorful action: Rock N '& nbsp; Roll Racing was more sophisticated than its predecessor, both graphically and playfully.



Loud music, colorful action: Rock N 'Roll Racing was more sophisticated than its predecessor, both graphically and playfully.

Source: Mobygames




Rock 'N Roll Racing is all about futuristic, boisterous action races. At the beginning, the player chooses one of several souped up cars, the neatly pre-rendered models can even be colored. The races are contested from an isometric perspective, and everything that brings you safely across the finish line is allowed: the cars are equipped with cannons, laser weapons and mines, which you use to mess up your opponents' day. For races won, the player earns money with which he can gradually upgrade his own cart with new weapons and components – Blizzard has already practiced a little here with role-playing elements. Rock 'N Roll Racing deserves its distinctive title from its soundtrack: Five well-known songs were licensed for the game, including the classic "Born to be Wild". In addition, the races are accompanied by atmospheric sayings, which the famous motorsport commentator Larry Huffman contributed.

No wonder that Blizzard decided early on to play a game that was accompanied by hearty rock music! After all, the studio even founded its own heavy metal band: under the title Elite Tauren Chieftain The group occasionally performed at the Blizzcon in-house exhibition. Blizzard's chief graphic artist Samwise Didier gave the vocal singer, Chris Sigaty (ex-producer of Starcraft 2) played rhythm guitar and Blizzard founder Mike Morhaime plucked the bass. Predicate: damn loud!

Prince of Persia with shotgun – a rather leisurely platformer.

Published: September 1994
Genre: Action-Adventure
Number of players: 1
platforms: SNES, MS-DOS, Sega 32X, Mac, Gameboy Advance (2003)







Blackthorne received solid reviews, especially the smooth animations were praised.



Blackthorne received solid reviews, especially the smooth animations were praised.

Source: Mobygames




Blackthorne is one of Blizzard's weaker early works. The game tells the story of the fighter Kyle Blackthorne, who was sent to Earth from his planet Tuul in childhood. Twenty years pass before he can return to his homeland, which has meanwhile been conquered and enslaved by the evil Sarlac. After a sprawling intro, the hero ends up in a mine tunnel at the start of the game, only armed with a shotgun. The controls are immediately reminiscent of the Prince of Persia: Kyle jumps, climbs and runs almost as precisely and smoothly as the Persian Prince, but the gameplay is also much slower than in a typical Jump & Run game. The battles also don't offer much speed: If Kyle encounters an opponent (who looks suspiciously similar to the Warcraft orcs!), They don't shoot blindly. Instead, Kyle usually has to press himself against the wall to avoid the enemy fire. As soon as the opponent reloads, the long-haired hero goes on the offensive. Other opponents also require more effort; red orcs, for example, throw bombs at Kyle, which he has to avoid with a precise jump.






Blackthorne is reminiscent of slower sidescrollers like Prince of Persia.



Blackthorne is reminiscent of slower sidescrollers like Prince of Persia.

Source: Blizzard Entertainment




Every now and then there are also items in the levels that you can switch through in a small inventory – healing packages, for example, or grenades with which you can open doors. Of course, sometimes portals and counter tasks are also waiting for the player – all in all, a solid mix, which, however, cannot inspire in the long run. After all: Visually, the game was quite successful at the time, especially the fluid animations by Kyle Blackthorne were convincing. They were created using a rotoscopic process: company veteran Frank Pearce was filmed while jumping, running and climbing, the video recordings served the graphic designers as the basis for the hero's movements. As with most Blizzard games, Blackthorne's music was written by Glenn Stafford. However, the dreary pieces do not yet indicate that this man will later be involved in some of the most beautiful Blizzard soundtracks – including Starcraft and Warcraft.

The Death and Return of Superman

Blizzard tried superhero games twice – to no avail. Happiness in misfortune: Without Superman, Diablo would probably never have existed!

Published: 1994
Genre: Action (side-scroller, beat 'em up)
Number of players: 1
platforms: SNES, Sega Mega Drive







With The Death and Return of Superman, Blizzard sniffed superhero air for the first time.



With The Death and Return of Superman, Blizzard sniffed superhero air for the first time.

Source: Blizzard Entertainment




You have to be a fervent comic fan to really enjoy The Death and Return of Superman (1994). The game was programmed by, among others, Blizzard co-founder Allen Adham, Blizzard's chief graphic designer Samwise Didier took on a producer role. The mixed result is a sideways scrolling beat 'em up, a beating game in the style of classics like Double Dragon or Final Fight.







The DC superhero appeared in various versions in The Death and Return of Superman.



The DC superhero appeared in various versions in The Death and Return of Superman.

Source: Mobygames




The special thing about it are the main characters, because you control not only the classic comic hero Superman. In later levels, other characters like Superboy, Steel, Cyborg or Eradicator will be unlocked, which also came from the DC Comics. Every hero masters different attacks and tricks, Steel, for example, works with a huge hammer. Nevertheless, the gameplay remains monotonous: level for level you always beat the same villains, power-ups, an upgrade system or tricky combos do not exist – the key is just hammering. The game was also solid in terms of graphics and the sound disappointed. It is therefore not surprising that the title was quickly forgotten.

Justice League: Task Force

Blizzard's second superhero project laid the foundation for Diablo!

Published: October 1995
Genre: Action (beat 'em up)
Number of players: 1-2
platforms: Super Nintendo, Sega Mega Drive







Blizzad was responsible for the SNES implementation of Justice League: Task Force.



Blizzad was responsible for the SNES implementation of Justice League: Task Force.

Source: Blizzard Entertainment




Thanks to Blizzard's Superman experience, a new contract work was soon pending. For the publisher Acclaim, the studio was supposed to implement a mega-drive game for the Super Nintendo. Justice League Task Force (1995) was the name of the work. Among other things, Blizzard co-founder Frank Pearce was responsible for the porting, Chris Metzen (who later became Vice President of Blizzard's creative development team) and his colleagues struggled with the graphic implementation. Unlike Death and Return of Superman, Justice League is not a sideways scrolling beat 'em up, but a classic fighting game in the style of Street Fighter. Means: The player initially selects a hero with whom he competes against an opponent in an arena. However, Justice League had no chance against the popular Street Fighter 2: the graphics were coarser, the controls less precise, the attacks less spectacular than those of Capcom's competition. The fighter squad turned out to be quite small, but lured with classic heroes like Superman, Wonderwoman or Batman – that made the game exciting, at least for comic fans.







During the porting work from Justice League, Blizzard and Condor (later: Blizzard North) met.



During the porting work from Justice League, Blizzard and Condor (later: Blizzard North) met.

Source: Mobygames




Despite all the criticism, Justice League was a hugely important project for Blizzard! Because the actual development team behind the Mega-Drive original was an unknown studio at the time called Condor. While Blizzard was working on the SNES implementation, both teams got to know each other. Blizzard met David Brevik and the brothers Max and Erich Schaefer for the first time. At the time, the three from Condor were preparing a concept for a turn-based, clay-animated role-playing game: Diablo! In the following months, Blizzard supported Condor in transforming the game into what it is today: a dark action role-playing game that is considered one of the most important hack & slay titles of all time. In 1996, half a year before the release of Diablo, Blizzard bought Condor and renamed the studio Blizzard North. In the following four years, the brilliant Diablo 2 was to be created there, again under the influence of Brevik and the Schaefer brothers. And so the story about the disappointing Superman games still has a happy, diabolical ending.

The Lost Vikings 2 (Norse by Norsewest: The Return of the Lost Vikings)

The successor was quickly forgotten – wrongly, because he was good!

Published: 1997
Genre: Puzzler / platformer
Number of players: 1-2
platforms: Super Nintendo, MS-DOS, Sony PlayStation, Sega Saturn and Windows







Lost Vikings 2 is only carefully expanding the game concept.



Lost Vikings 2 is only carefully expanding the game concept.

Source: Mobygames




In 1997, Blizzard released the sequel to The Lost Vikings, initially only for the Super Nintendo, which was already an old iron at the time. The game completely retained the graphics style of its 16-bit predecessor, and the game principle and interface did not change. However, two new game characters were added: the werewolf Fang can climb up walls, while the dragon scorch flies through the levels. Since only three of the five characters are used per level, the player now often has to rethink and adapt his approach, also because the environments in The Lost Vikings 2 offer even more options for getting around. But the three Viking brothers have also learned: Erik now has futuristic rocket boots with which he can double jump. Olaf, on the other hand, is allowed to shrink at the push of a button and squeezes through narrow corridors, moreover he now fartholes holes in brittle floors. Baleog exchanges his bow for a pull-out arm prosthesis, which has less range, but also serves as a climbing hook and practical gripping arm.






The late sequel to The Lost Vikings is also known as Norse by Norsewest.



The late sequel to The Lost Vikings is also known as Norse by Norsewest.

Source: Blizzard Entertainment




The moody, but little-noticed sequel was also implemented for other platforms: A completely new version was released for MS-DOS, Sony PlayStation, Sega Saturn and Windows, but Blizzard was no longer involved. Instead, Beam Software (later Part of the Krome Studios) about the 32-bit implementation, which visually differs significantly from the Blizzard original: All hand-pixelated graphics have been replaced by a more modern render look, and the characters are set to music by professional speakers. This version was marketed under the title "Norse by Norse West: The Return of Lost Vikings" – an allusion to the Hitchcock classic North by Northwest,

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