Ice Climber – Sequel, Spin-Off, Start Over, or Stay Dead?

Welcome to this week’s, “Sequel, Spin Off, Start Over or Stay Dead?” Each week we’re going to look at a dormant franchise that was once pretty popular, but for some reason has disappeared into the sands of time. Diehard GameFAN staffers will have four options for what they want to have happen to the series and you can see them in the title of this piece. For a little more detailed description see below:

Sequel – A direct sequel to the franchise. This means if it used sprites and was in 2-D, that’s how you want the next game to be as well. This might involve putting the game on a handheld system instead of a console, but it keeps the nostalgia and classic feel alive.

Spin Off – This is where you take the characters or a specific character is a totally different direction from the established franchise. Examples include Luigi’s Mansion, Hey You, Pikachu!, Shadow Hearts (From Koudelka), and so on.

Start Over – This is a reimagining of the series from the ground up. Perhaps it’s time to bring the series into 3-D. Perhaps you want a totally different control scheme or to throw away the old continuity. In a nutshell, this is taking the brand name from the old series and that’s about it. Everything else is new and re-envisioned.

Stay Dead – This is pretty obvious. This is a toxic franchise that you don’t want to see return in any way shape or form. Let the dead rest.

This week we’re looking at a game who is approaching its twenty-fifth birthday. That’s a game that’s older than most of today’s gamers. Created by Kenji Miki, who would go on to work on titles like The Legend of Zelda, Super Mario Bros. and Star Fox 64, this game remains popular one with Nintendo fans and its two protagonists continue to get modern day exposure through the Super Smash Bros. series. Yet even though the game has been re-released a whopping six times over the past two and a half decades, it has never seen a proper sequel, spin-off or modern day remake. Five Diehard GameFAN staffers takes a look at Ice Climber and the feasibility of bringing the series from 1985 into modern day gaming.

Ice Climber

Chris Bowen – Stay Dead

Ice Climber was a cute game for its day, but it’s become iconic only because Nintendo’s kinda shoved it down our throats. If they haven’t been the ones doing it, it’s been Smash Bros. fans. People forget something: the game wasn’t that good. The control scheme got in the way more than anything, and though it was cute for its time, that’s all it was: cute for its time.

I don’t see where a new Ice Climber game would go now. What would you do with it? Make it 3-D? Make a 2-D remake that fixes the controls and therefore pisses off some purists? I could see that potentially being a decent game for WiiWare – it’ll sell like hotcakes just because of the Nintendo/Smash influence – but I don’t see it being that good a game. Adding story elements makes it too heavy, adding goals other than “get to the top” makes it too heavy, and leaving it as-is makes it feel light.

I think Ice Climber belongs in history. Leave it there.

Mark B. – Stay Dead
There are people in this world who love Ice Climber and everything it did way back when, but I am not one of those people. As we’ve noted several times, I was a Sega Master System owner back in the eighties, so by the time I played Ice Climber, I had already played other games since then that fulfilled the platform puzzler itch better than it did. Ice Climber is by no means a bad game, and shame on anyone who says it is, but it’s not so special a game that it requires any sort of sequel or remake at this point.

If someone wants to make remake Penguin Land, I might express mild interest in that however…

Guy Desmarais – Stay Dead
I liked Ice Climber as a kid. In fact, it was one of the games I played the most when my grand-parents were on babysitting duty because that was one of the few games they had along with the original Super Mario Bros. and Excite Bike.
It’s still a good game, but even nostalgia cannot prevent me from realizing that it is a repetitive game with floaty controls. It’s still fun to climb the mountain and see the polar bear with sunglasses, but it just seems that much more difficult to accomplish than when I was young. Maybe I just lost my patience as I grew up, but I feel like Ice Climber is one of these games that really cannot be updated correctly. You will either lose the core gameplay elements or the atmosphere. Kind of like Frogger, but that didn’t stop the publishers from trying though.

Aileen Coe – Stay Dead
I was glued to the NES as a kid, playing this for long stretches of time. There was something addictive about jumping around breaking things with icepicks and gathering vegetables, especially if you had another person to do it with (and you didn’t kill each other by going too far up too fast for the other person to catch up). That being said, when I fired up the game again years later, it didn’t quite have the same luster. That’s not to say it has no redeeming qualities or that it’s a horrible game, but it doesn’t quite shine so brightly without the glow of nostalgia around it. Even if a new game would potentially gain some name recognition from the two main characters appearing in Brawl, there’s not much else that can be done with it, and trying would likely mangle it rather than bolster it.

Alex Lucard – Stay Dead

Oh? A platformer with crappy controls? I think we all know where I stand on this one…

I’ve never been a fan of platformers and Ice Climber is no different. It was okay, but I spent my NES years with Final Fantasy, River City Ransom, TMNT: The Arcade Game, Contra, Gradius and more. Beat ’em ups, shooters, and RPGs held my attention back then – not platformers and so my time with Ice Climber as a kid was limited and loathed.

Flash forward to 2002 and Animal Crossing where Ice Climber was one of my first NES games. I found it a little more interested, but a still a flawed game where you were more likely to die from the controls or an overzealous friend. I also found that the Ice Climber bits in SSB Brawl and Melee were my least favorite parts of either game. So I have no interest in seeing a sequel to this game and god knows there are already enough awful platformers on the Wii and DS to risk throwing another one onto the pile.

Let Ice Climber stay dead. It doesn’t need a sequel and it doesn’t warrant one.

End Result –

Stay Dead – 5
Sequel – 0
Spin-Off – 0
Start Over – 0

Wow, a straight shut-out for a Nintendo franchise. Going into this, I thought I would be the only giving a thumb’s down to Ice Climber. Instead it looks like Popo and Nana are going to have to be content with appearances in the Super Smash Bros. franchise. I guess it just shows that even with a lot of pro-Nintendo staffers, some franchises just don’t cut it.

Join us next week as we look at what our staff seems to universally consider the best franchise in Square-Enix’s library. Does our love of this series have us clamoring for a sequel, or have us fearing what Square-Enix will do to it. See you then!



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