Ice Climber

Year: 1985
Publisher: Nintendo
Genre: Platform – Top-Scroll

Few games capture the true essence of the Esquimaux peoples of the arctic circle, expressing the spirit and character of the proud native heritage they all bear within them. This game isn’t one of them. This is a game about hitting polar bears with a hammer.

As culturally sensitive as the culture of the 80’s required.

Controls are pretty straightfoward – you go left and right, jump, and swing a hammer. While precise movements can be a bit frustrating, the reason you slide is because the floor is made of ice – I can’t imagine faulting a game for being difficult in a completely logical (and not at all gambreaking) way.

I’ve never really been clear on the plot of the game Ice Climbers – as far as I can tell, you’re an Eskimo (or in multiplayer, two Eskimos) who are chasing a pterodactyl who may have stolen your eggplant by burrowing through the frozen insides of a hollow mountain with nothing but a hammer. Meanwhile, Sasquatches, polar bears, birds and deadly icicles try to murder you. This is a pretty awesome plot if you ask me.

It’s hard to tell from this picture, but the pink one is just about to jump on my head and let the little Sasquatch kill me. Because being a douche is a gameplay strategy.

I might be a bit partial towards this game because it gave me Super Smash Bros. flashbacks (Super Smash-backs? Or are they flash-forwards?), which helped it to evoke a far greater sense of nostalgia than bouncing Inuits would otherwise evoke. This game has simultaneous two player play wherein you can actually interact with and even assist (or hinder) one another, which can be pretty awesome both cooperatively and competitively.

For cooperative play, with a little care, you can easily boost your ally up to a higher level, allowing them to clear the way and keep pesky little furballs from plugging your progress. For competitive play, however, you can keep moving up until you move your opponent off the bottom of the screen (a practice I have dubbed “sending them off on an ice floe,” for maximum racial insensitivity).

John’s Rating: Ice Climbers gets a solid 3.5 out of 5.0. I still play this game from time to time, but it’s really best with more than one player.

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