"Ice Climber, revisited"

Back in the day, Nintendo liked to censor things in their games they deemed to be ''in poor taste''. Some of them were funny, like changing ''Vodka Drunkenski'' in Punch-out to ''Soda Popenski'', while still keeping all his alcohol related phrases. Some changes pissed off the masses, most notably the heavy censorship in Mortal Kombat 2(removing blood, changing fatalities to ''less violent'' ones, etc.). In fact, the uproar over this made Nintendo stop censorship all together. But before all that hoopla, in the early days of the Nintendo Famicom, a little game called Ice Climber was released in Japan. When it came to America shortly after it's release, there was one small yet noticeable difference.

Anyone who has played the North American version or has played Super Smash Brothers Melee knows about the fuzzy white guys (I will call them fuzzies from here on). The fuzzies push ice blocks across the screen to fill in the hole you made in the floor. They can be quite annoying. What you probably didn't know is that the fuzzies don't exist in the original version. Instead of fuzzies, there are blue seals. Why did Nintendo do this? Is it racist to assume that Eskimo's hunted seals (which they did do)? Does PETA have issues with it? Are they worried kids will copy what they see, and go hitting innocent seals? Whatever the reason, the seal's were cut out.

Story: N/A
From what I can tell, a giant pterodactyl steals a big, smiling vegetable from an Eskimo, and he must brave a mountain full of ice pushing seals, smaller pterodactyls, and falling sharp icicles in order to save his egg plant, green pepper, and carrot (all of which are plentiful in Canada I'm sure). It's a thrilling tale of heroism and bravery in the face of danger. Or not.

Sound: 6/10
There aren't many sound effects in the game to speak of. There are assorted beeps for collecting the fruits, hitting the animals, and breaking through the ice. Notably, the jump sound effect isn't just a beep, rather it sounds like a standard NES jump noise, like the kind you find in a Mario game. In an age where practically all noises were beeps, this is nice.

Music: 5/10
There are only 3 tracks in this game: the title music, the pre-level music (a little tune as the dinosaur flies up the mountain), and the level music. The music isn't particularly annoying, it's just that after a while of hearing the same song, you want something new to hear.

Controls: 6/10
Controls are about as simple as you get. Jump, hit, and the directional pad. There is one problem I have with them, however. Whenever you break a hole in the ice above you, you can jump up to the next level. The thing is, you can't just do a standing jump and move to the left or right onto the ice, as you will just fall through the ice itself most of the time. Rather, you must get a running start and try to make it through the hole. It can get quite annoying, and sometimes it costs you a life.

Graphics: 6/10
Graphic-wise, Ice Climber is average, even by old NES standards. The ice climber sprite looks like it has 5 positions tops. Very few colors are used (10, maybe 12). A high number of colors aren't needed for a fun NES game (look at Donkey Kong), but there is something to be said as to how you distribute the colors in the game.

Gameplay/Fun Factor: 6/10
There really isn't much depth to this game at all. The levels are essentially all the same, with things just moved around each time. It doesn't remain incredibly easy, however. There is a definite challenge that exists, though this is in part unintentional, as the goofy controls make the later levels that much harder. Admittedly, Ice Climber can become very repetitive. With no real ending (at least, not one that I've found)

E-reader cards aren't exactly expensive, so if you have one, by all means get Ice Climber. It's old, repetitive, glitchy, but hey, it's a classic.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 07/13/03, Updated 07/13/03

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