Ice Climber (NES)

Ice Climber Box Art.

Ice Climber

System: NES

Release Date: October 1985

Developer: Nintendo

Publisher: Nintendo

Genre: Platformer

What to say about Ice Climber… this is a tough one. Let’s start with the premise. You’re a fellow bundled up in his best winter garb looking to climb to the top of 32 consecutive mountains. You have no picks or rope, however, and plan on getting up there with just your hammer and jumping prowess.

Jumping off a cloud with a Topi beneath me.

The tricky part of jumping comes from the fact that you are a high jumper, not a long jumper. There are many gaps in the ice that you need to get across, but good luck getting any distance. This will leave you falling to the floor below more often than not. If you’re lucky, there will be some solid ground below you. If you’re unlucky, it’ll be moving clouds. You also have to make sure to avoid falling icicles, or you’ll feel the pain of death.

A Topi bringing out an ice block, while a Nitpicker flies up toward me.

It’s not just the mountain looking to kill you, but the denizens of the mountain, as well. The Topi, kind of an abominable snowman, tries to impede your progress by plugging your freshly hammered holes with ice. The nitpicker flies around, trying to stab you with its beak. And if you take too long to make any progress, out will come the Polar Bear to stomp the floor down, exposing you to the nothingness beneath. On their own, the enemies are nothing to worry about, but when they team up… good luck…

The Condor flying an eggplant to the top of the mountain.

If you can make it up the first eight floors of the mountain, you reach a special bonus area where the Condor has left a smattering of fruit and vegetables. Collect them for bonus points, or hop to the very top and catch the Condor to truly defeat the mountain.

I made it to the top of the mountain!

I had a lot of trouble making it to the Condor in the allotted time. I’d keep missing a jump after the bottom of the screen climbed up on me. I only got the bonus once in my play time. The moving clouds coupled with very little lateral movement on jumps messed me up big time.

Graphics: 1.5

The graphics are fine. Nothing special. Right around Donkey Kong Jr. level.

Sound: 2.5

The music is unoffensive and a lot of the sound effects are exactly the same as Super Mario Bros.

Gameplay: 1.5

Jumping controls aren’t particularly responsive and you float through the platforms when you should be on top of them.

Difficulty: 3.0

This is a fairly difficult game to me. I’m sure someone who has played it for years can make it to the top of every mountain, but it would certainly take time to master.

Fun Factor: 1.5

I found myself getting frustrated more than I was having fun. Missing that same jump the seventh time in a row because I clipped through the platform was infuriating.

Overall Grade: 2.0

Ice Climber earned its C. This is an arcade style platformer and it is serviceable at its job. I don’t recommend going out of your way to play it, but to each their own.

Ice Climber Video Review on YouTube

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