Reverse Engineered Tools/Library for the DOS game The Lost Vikings
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The Lost Vikings/Blackthorne Tools

This is a library and a set of tools based on a partial reverse engineering of the DOS games The Lost Vikings and Blackthorne. The Lost Vikings is copyright Silicon and Synapse (now Blizzard) and was published by Interplay in 1992. Blackthrone is copyright Blizzard and was published in 1994.

Both games are now freely available from Blizzard:


These tools are public domain. The code may be freely incorporated into other projects, either source or binary.


The library code is in liblv and provides APIs for handling the various data formats used by The Lost Vikings and Blackthorne. The compiler and disassembler are in the vm directory. These tools currently only support The Lost Vikings.


The tools are:

  • pack_tool: Tool for extracting, decompressing and repacking the DATA.DAT file.

  • sprite_view: A viewer for the various sprites formats used by the games.

  • tileset_view: A viewer for the 16x16 tilesets used by the games.

  • level_view: A very basic, incomplete level viewer.

  • vm/ A decompiler for the virtual machine used by The Lost Vikings. This is not yet supported for Blackthorne.

  • vm/ A compiler for the virtual machine used by The Lost Vikings. This is not yet supported for Blackthorne.

The tools have been tested with a version of The Lost Vikings with the following MD5 sums:

  • 8807a952565c13e428988d87021095c8 VIKINGS.EXE
  • d0f8a04202070a54d1909758ecd962b5 DATA.DAT

For Blackthorne:

  • 830ea49bd3995f557524ac45384ca9ca BTHORNE.EXE
  • d776516e6452cb7d6a3eb12a1876c49c DATA.DAT

Run each of the tools with --help to see the command line options. The source for the pack and sprite viewer tools also contain comments with some example usages.

When using the tools for Blackthorne the --blackthorne argument should be passed.

Level Viewer

Run the level viewer with the path to DATA.DAT and the level number (numbering starts at 1). For example to view the first level of The Lost Vikings:

./level_view /path/to/vikings/DATA.DAT 1

To view the practice stage of Blackthorne:

./level_view /path/to/blackthorne/DATA.DAT --blackthorne 2

Both games encode splash screens and cutscenes as levels. These can also be viewed with the level viewer (see liblv/lv_level.c for the level numbers).

The arrow keys move the view, and clicking a tile or object will show information about it. The following keys may also be used:

Key Effect
F Toggles drawing the foreground tiles
B Toggles drawing the background tiles
O Toggles drawing objects
G Toggles grid
R Toggles drawing object bounding boxes


The level and sprite viewers require the SDL library. The tools have only been tested on Linux, but should require minimal porting effort to other operating systems. To build the library and the tools:



The library is documented using Doxygen. To build and view the documentation:

make docs
google-chrome docs/html/index.html

Known Bugs/Missing Features

There are lots:

  • The source contains almost no error checking (I am lazy). The tools will generally crash if passed incorrect arguments or invalid data.

  • Some levels, notably most of the special levels, will crash the level viewer.

  • Many larger Blackthorne levels do not render correctly in the level view. It appears that parts of the map are "folded", while other parts render correctly. Some tiles are incorrect, for example some levels have tiles containing font characters.

  • Blackthorne has secondary tile maps that appear to be used for rendering the background or sky. This are not yet supported. Initial attempts result in obviously incorrect rendering.

  • Many sprites are either not rendered, or rendered incorrectly by the level viewer. This is due to the following problems:

    • Packed 32x32 object sprites are not drawn. I currently do not know how the game specifies which sprite set to draw for this format.

    • Many unpacked sprites are drawn with the wrong size, resulting in a corrupted image. Objects have a width and height which appears to be a bounding box (for example the two doors on level one, which are the same type, have different bounding boxes). The object database entry for the type (basically the object's class) also has a width and height, but these do not correspond directly to the sprite size.

    • Some objects, such as doors, are comprised of multiple sprites. The level viewer will only draw the first sprite in the set.

    • Some objects, such as collectibles, use a single sprite set for multiple different objects. The level viewer will only draw the first sprite from the set. It is not fully understood how the correct frame is chosen by the game.

    • The Vikings are not always drawn in their correct start positions.

    • Palette animations are not supported. The information about them is decoded, but not fully understood.

    • Sprites are not yet drawn for Blackthorne levels. The bounding boxes for objects are drawn.

  • The tileset viewer does not properly support palettes. Tilesets in Blackthorne may use multiple palettes which are encoded in the level header.

  • The object database contains programs for a virtual machine, which is used to control the behaviour of the game objects. It appears that it also dictates how to render the game objects. The rendering parts of the virtual machine have not yet been reversed.

  • I have not bothered to reverse the music or sound formats. The music format appears to be Extended Multiple Instrument Digital Interface (XMI).