Review by Phediuk
""Excuse me, have you seen my elephant?" We apologize for this placeholder tagline..."
Ah yes, Ice Climber, probably the most misunderstood Nintendo game there ever was. Ever since Nana and Popo appeared as playable characters in Nintendo's Super Smash Bros. Melee, countless reviews for this game have appeared. But, to be blunt, this game is on the borderline between crap and a wet fart, and it is my duty to delve into the darkness that is Ice Climber.
This is not the worst e-Reader game. That award goes to Tennis (or maybe Urban Champion.) In my quest to review every last e-Reader game, however, it 'twas a painful experience to force myself to 'play' this 'game' (with 'play' meaning 'stuffing ice cube in shirt to keep self awake while dying of boredom' and 'game' meaning 'seventeen year-old piece of garbage that is better left in 1985, lost and forgotten.')
When you first boot up the game, you are greeted by the title screen, which gives you many play options (to be exact, two.) You may either go through the main game (where you must climb to the top of 32 unimaginative and extremely frustrating mountains) and the Select Mountain game (where you must choose an unimaginative and extremely frustrating mountain to climb up.) So, let's say you want to skip the wussy stuff and go straight to the final mountain, number (DUH DUH DUH) 32.
You die within the first five seconds. See, upon starting a mountain, you will notice that your climber is armed with only two moves: A pitiful little grunt which is supposed to be a jump, and a laughable attack where your climber swings his ice hammer two inches in front of himself. It's painful to watch. When you jump, your climber can only move a couple of inches in either direction before he falls down again. When you swing your hammer, you might as well turn off the game, because that topi you swung at (which are basically stoned Kirbys) have already handed your ass to you. And when you actually get higher on the mountain (a nigh-impossible feat) you may encounter the demigod being known as 'The Polar Bear.' These enemies are so unbelievably difficult to defeat that by the time your climber has swung his hammer, the Bear will have already beaten you to a bloody pulp and drank him for breakfast.
Which, of course, reveals yet another flaw in the game: your climber is a weak little !@#$ who can only take one little nudge from one of the pathetic excuses for enemies before he calls it quits. Add that into the fact that your climber only has three lives, and it is insanely easy to fall in bottomless pits, and you've got one messed up game.
On the plus side, I had a strange urge when I first tried the game to play every single mountain. This actually gives the game god replay value, as there are an impressive thirty-two peaks to climb (albeit frustrating peaks), and most of them are of decent length (with most of the length caused by the tantrums you throw after bumping into a topi for the umpteenth time.)
Climbing up the actual mountains is an arduous chore which only the most steel-nerved beings can bear. See, your goal is to climb up the mountain. However, breakable blocks are usually blocking your path. So every single time you run into some of these blocks, you must jump up four times to break your way through. And then, of course, you must have superb jumping reflexes to hop up onto your now-accessible platform. And since all of your enemies are quite stupid, they will fall directly through the holes you have just created, thus killing you, and making you all that more frustrated.
Every mountain has eight screens, most of which take an average of 2 minutes to climb up (assuming you don't die, of course.) Thus, the average mountain will take you at least 20 minutes or so to beat (I'm serious, that's how long it took me to beat Mountain 1.) The final screen of each mountain is a bonus stage, where you must collect all the fruit you can within the time limit. These are actually kinda fun, if you can believe it, but are nigh-impossible to access due to the ridiculous difficulty of the underlying mountain.
So, there you have it. Despite the obscene trials that you will go through during your dreadful climbs up the mountains, the controls are still as simple as ever. A makes you execute a jump (with a set height; no careful tapping of the A button here), B makes you swing your hammer (so, we can assume that B does nothing at all), the D-pad moves your climber, and Start pauses the game. Simple. As. Hell. Honestly, a foreign child who had never seen video games before, had his arms and legs cut off, and was being attacked by killer bees could figure out these controls within ten seconds or less.
Ice Climber is not a technical masterpiece. The Polar Bears look like gigantic marshmallows, and your climber looks like a walking panda holding a clump of poo. As for sound, music is always being played (which is a rarity for early NES games), but it is ridiculously annoying and gritty, and your ears will likely be bleeding within 30 seconds of exposure to it. The only sound effects are your standard jump 'boing', your standard block-smash 'ksssh', and your standard 'Fruit Get!' 'dthring!'. They suffice for type of game Ice Climber is (a boring, repetitive, must-avoid piece of software.)
So, there you have it. My sixth e-Reader review. Ice Climber is only five smackeroos, so you might as well pick it up. It's a bit of a blast to the past, and it lets you see what platformers were like seventeen years ago (although, Super Mario Bros. is a much better game...)
-Bonus stages are fun
-Decent sound effects
-Good replay value
-It's five bucks
-Ridiculously stiff, albeit simple controls
-Obscene difficulty level
There ya go. The lowdown on Ice Climber.
Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 11/29/02, Updated 11/29/02
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