Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I think I've changed my mind about Ice Climber

I don't know how you spent your weekend, but I spent a good chunk of mine playing Ice Climber. Why? Well, mostly because I wanted to make sure I didn't completely waste my hard-earned money when I bought a copy of the Famicom version of this Eskimo-centric platformer the week before.

So, what's the verdict? Given my previously expressed opinions of the game, you could be forgiven for supposing my answer would be something along the lines of, "What have I done?" In fact, though, I'm feeling pretty darn good about my purchase.

I don't know what changed, but after years of dismiss- ing this Kenji Miki-designed title as a difficult-to-control turd I'm starting to think it's actually a difficult-to-control treasure.

OK, so treasure is likely too strong a word to use in regards to Ice Climber, but so is turd. Yes, the stiff, Mario Bros.-esque jumping mechanism can make things mighty frustrating (to put it mildly), but after you accept and get a hang of that fact the game becomes a lot more attractive.

After all, said jumping mechanism, while a smidge maddening, is, in my mind, the only negative aspect of this rather ancient release (it hit store shelves all the way back in 1985). Its title and end-of-stage tunes, composed by Akito Nakatsuka, are surprisingly and appealingly jazzy, for instance, while its graphics--its parka-wearing protagonists, Popo and Nana, and the cross-eyed vegetables they're tasked with rescuing, especially--are undeniably cute.

All that said, I won't hold it against anyone who refuses, for whatever reason, to join me in standing behind this strange little game.

See also: 'Second chances: The New Zealand Story' and 'Why I'm not yeti a fan of Ice Climber (har har)'


Viewtiful_Justin said...

I feel the same way about Ice Climber as I do about Sonic the's sort of broken. Sonic is all about speed, but yet it punishes you for going too fast. Not cool. A game that's, at its core, about jumping, should NEVER have a jumping mechanism that feels broken.

It's cute, for sure, even if--after playing with the Smash Bros iterations of Popo and Nana--they seem a bit tall.

Bryan Ochalla said...

I hear ya, Justin, although I also think that with the current setting (and set-up), the entire game would feel broken if Popo and Nana could jump as easily and nimbly as, say, Mario does in Super Mario Bros. Given its constraints as an early-era game, I think the current jumping mechanism is suitable -- if frustrating.

All that said, I really wish the folks at Nintendo had decided, back in the Super Famicom/SNES era, especially -- to make a sequel to Ice Climber that "fixes" the jumping mechanism while also producing an enjoyable and challenging game. I'm not exactly what that game would look like -- stages would have to be larger, I would think, or feature a lot more obstacles -- but I'm sure they could have pulled it off if they'd wanted to.

Sadly, I think that ship sailed a long time ago. Sure, Popo and Nana continue to show up in games like Smash Bros., but I really can't see Nintendo making a sequel to this game after all these years. Of course, they're going to released a Kid Icarus sequel for the 3DS next year, so who knows??

Viewtiful_Justin said...

I would LOVE them to. WAY taller levels, way more variety in enemies and environments...and...more! That would be awesome.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Yes, there would need to be more of everything. So strange that there's just three enemies in the Famicom/NES version, especially. Anyway, who knows? I could see Nintendo doing something for the 3DS, especially if the game is as popular in Europe and Japan as has been suggested.

Sean said...

I knew you would come around!

I`m of the opinion that, while not a great game, Ice Climber is at least a good game and one that can be enjoyable to play.

And I totally agree that it would have been great if they had made a sequel that had fixed the shortcomings of the jumping mechanism. A couple of minor tweaks probably would have made a huge difference.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Hey there, Sean! You know what? You're single-handedly responsible for me giving this game a second and even third try. After reading some of the comments you've made to my previous posts about Ice Climber, I thought, "Hmm, maybe Sean's onto something here."

Anyway, I agree with you that the game isn't great, but it is good and it most certainly can be enjoyed. I've been doing just that for the last week or two, by the way. I don't play it all the time, obviously, but in short spurts here and there.