Picnic tables can be dangerous things. Don't believe me? Try retrieving one from the middle of a busy four-lane motorway. That was probably my most memorable death in When Vikings Attack, an inventive brawler that's pretty much built around memorable deaths. Death by trumpet, by beach ball, by giant hammer, by wooden penguin - Clever Beans' debut is the absolute antithesis of a complex video game, perhaps, but it generates some rather complex obituaries all the same.
You know that part of a game when the designers have introduced something simple and satisfying and then proceed to layer on all the complications? When Vikings Attack never quite gets to that part. Its simplicity is both a blessing and a curse, as you might expect. Even party games like this often come with a little more meat on the bone than you'll find here, but they're also rarely as direct or as instantly appealing.
So the first thing you learn in When Vikings Attack is that you move your little herd of hooligans around as a single unit using the left thumbstick, and you can throw the clobber they pick up instantly as they race across the isometric environments with the tap of a face button. The second thing you learn is that there isn't a lot more learning to do: in a very pared-back spin on the Power Stone formula, it's your gang - and possibly your friends' gangs - against a Viking gang. You lob stuff to and fro at each other, thinning the enemy ranks and occasionally collecting wandering reinforcements (your gang size is your health, in essence). Then, when the reinforcements stop trickling in for both sides, it's down to the last man standing.