Kickin’ It Old School – Ice Climber

I always wondered why, after the inclusion of the Ice Climbers in Super Smash Bros. Melee, their game never really got much recognition or respect, like the Fire Emblem series. Now I know: because Ice Climber sucks! Yea, I know I used this as the teaser at the end of my last column, but it bears repeating. This game blows.

It’s far from the worst game I’ve ever played, mind you, but its only redeeming quality is that it produced one (two?) character(s?) for the Smash Bros. series. And even there, they’re not the best fighters in the game. I have to wonder why they were included in that game at all. Yea, they’re there in the tradition of other rather obscure characters like the Fire Emblem guys, Ness (as much as it pains me to call him “obscure”, he really is. And by the way, LOCALIZE MOTHER 3 DAMN IT!!!) and Pit in the new one, but at least they have good games behind them. Ice Climber? Not good.

Ice Climber (NES, 1985)

The game starts with a condor flying away with the protagonists’, named Popo and Nana, vegetables. Each level has a different vegetable for the two to recover. Player one controls Popo, and player two controls Nana. That’s about the whole story: recovering stolen vegetables. Now, let’s stop and think about this. Why would you go through such trouble to recover vegetables? Sure, it’s winter and it’s hard to grow more, but the Ice Climbers are constantly assaulted by animals, like bears and…abominable snow monster-things (yes, I know they’re seals in the Japanese version); why can’t they hunt? What, they can’t eat meat? Humans are omnivorous damn it! Furthermore, all their vegetables appear to have eyes (I thought the condor was stealing their baby at first, the recovery of which would make a far less stupid storyline) so how about instead of recovering them, why don’t they move away, since obviously they’re in a highly radioactive area and their veggies are mutating?

Obviously, I’m thinking way too much into this, but I’m trying to make sense of it. Playing the game certainly doesn’t help much. Basically, you just climb up, and up, and up, and up, until you get to the top of whatever “mountain” you’re on, in quotes since the levels are very un-mountainish. When you get to the top, you get to try and recover your stolen vegetables and get some licks in at that evil, demented condor for some bonus points. Miss a jump and you’ll go to the next level with no veggies or bonus points. Damn!

And you will fall quite a lot, since the controls are just mind-numbingly bad. You can jump straight up or with a slight curve to the left or right, and if you’re not dead-on with your jumps you’ll end up missing the next platform, and even falling through them at times. Jumping and attacking sometimes works, but you have to be perfect with that, too. There are 32 levels to play, but I couldn’t get through more than 4, both due to the crippled controls and the fact that I just plain didn’t want to go on. The game is repetitive enough that I’m sure I didn’t miss much.

The graphics are bad, but it’s 1985 Nintendo, so that’s not much of a criticism. It looked good for the time, really. I guess my only real complaint about the graphics is that the condor looks more like a pterodactyl than anything else, and given this game’s established weirdness, what with the vegetables having eyes and all, having the antagonist be an extinct dinosaur really wouldn’t surprise me. The music is okay; it’s not the best, but it’s a bright point of the game. Nice and upbeat, and that’s always good.

This game’s biggest problem? It’s not fun. At all. Even if you get the hang of the controls, it’s only mildly enjoyable for the 30 seconds or so you get to play it in Brawl. Ice Climber is repetitive, hard to control, and, worst of all, just plain boring. It’s not worth your $5 on the Virtual Console, and definitely not worth your $20 for the Game Boy Advance re-release as a part of the Classic NES Series. I guess I can see why they put the Ice Climbers in the Super Smash Bros. series, seeing as they’d be good fighters with their hammers and all, but I can think of a good number of characters that would be good fighters that have good games behind them (for example, Mega Man, Crono, Arthur from Ghosts “Ëœn Goblins, Jason from Blaster Master…the list goes on). And by the way, while I’m on the subject of Smash Bros., LOCALIZE MOTHER 3 DAMN IT!!!

Next Time: With Wrestlemania XXIV looming on the horizon, we’ll look at some Wrestlemania games!

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