It’s Like Playing Games in the Cold!
Along with a level set in an active volcano, it seems that almost every game just needs to have a portion set at the north pole. And they’re always frustrating. The ground wants you to slip and break a hip, a blizzard pushes against you, or maybe the snow clouds your vision.
Something is going to come along and make it a pain in the ass to get through the bastard. And here are five such levels….
Sherbert Land -- Mario Kart 64
Mario ice levels are pretty much the definitive examples for the rest of the gaming world. You’ve gotten used to how everything feels, to the momentum of the character you’re controlling, to how they jump, their “weight”, all those fine little details that allow you to make those precision leaps that prevent you from constantly pancaking at the bottom of some screen pit. But then it’s about halfway through the game (often specifically world 4 for some reason) and in that brief moment between defeating that last boss or clearing that flag, mother nature crapped 12 new layers of cold onto the world like you fed her laxatives made of bitterness.
Ice Man -- Mega Man
Since the environment can be such a hazard, the Mega Man Ice and Snow stages can often be the worst of the worst, and since there are so many games, there’s a lot to choose from. Chill Penguin had one in Mega Man X, and there was that Blizzard Buffalo Stage in X3. Plus there’s a new one in Mega Man 10 with Chill Man, but really I think we have to take a step back and look at the one to start it all: Ice Man’s Stage.
Hoth -- Super Empire Strikes Back
If you watch the video, you’ll notice that as soon as you start the game, as in, less than 10 seconds into the game, every single living creature on the planet decides that they want a Skywalker sandwich with a side order of Taun-Taun-Tots. A ridiculous amount of enemies jump at you from every angle imaginable and you can barely progress without committing some level of genocide on the animal kingdom. And it still has all the standard Ice-Level crap: slippery floors, falling icicles, Blizzards crowding your sight.
Castle Crashers -- Ice Fortress
OK, to be perfectly fair, the main reason this one’s here is simple: the music.
Ice Cap Zone -- Sonic the Hedgehog 3
No more so than in Sonic 3, where every single thing that could be done to make a sonic game awesome was done. You had better power-ups that actually gave you vastly different game mechanics (although the electric shield was far and away the best), you had some awesome hidden areas and great level design, plenty of blast processing to keep the stages scrolling at a jet-engine speed and even a new equally cool rival to contend with in Knuckles the Echidna. Hell, the game would even get to be backwards compatible with the cross-over title between the two mammals in an unheard of (at the time, and still never repeated exactly) method of linking cartridges together.
When you actually made it to the Ice Cap Zone, you knew things were going to be crazy from the start, since the first thing the marketing team had decided upon was,” Hey, we know we have a cool character. What would make him even cooler? Snowboards!”
Honorable Mention -- Himalayas level in Ducktales IISpeak Your MindTell us what you're thinking... and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!