Ice Climber review
Climb and eat!
Graphics are easy on the eyes
The sounds themselves are fairly good I guess
Crippled jumping mechanics
Forgettable, repetitive and few sound effects and music
Not very enjoyable...quite boring actually
Some of the ideas sounded good on paper, but weren't executed too well (more on that later)
Ice Climbers...not exactly Nintendo's greatest pair of icons. Aside from fairly average characters in Super Smash Brothers Melee, you wouldn't even know what the hell an Ice Climber was unless you were alive during the 8-bit era. In fact, I knew about these guys because of Super Smash Brothers Melee, but I never really liked using them as characters. I was curious as to what game they're from, then I got it, played it for about a week...and ended up ditching it for good after typing this review up.
Why? Because it was boring, most of it was forgettable and it felt crippled!
The main objective of every level is to get from the top of the mountain to the bottom, while avoiding enemies...or killing enemies. If you see an enemy, whack him with your hammer. He won't bother you anymore.
Anyway, to get to the top, you have to break the platforms above by headbutting it (though it says you're smashing it with your hammer in the instruction booklet or something, it looks more like they're headbutting it). But here's the problem: If you leave an area alone for too long (either due to crippled jumping or because moving platforms are being a hassle), these white creatures come and freeze the part of the platform you just headbutted. The sort of stuff that hinders you from just headbutting platforms would be enemies, moving platforms and...CRIPPLED JUMPIMG!
Look, the enemies are simple enough, just whack them with your hammer. Moving platforms...meh, they wouldn't be much of a problem, if it wasn't for your jumping being so crippled! It's like the ice climber has a broken leg when jumping, but if he does have the broken leg, how is he running like hell on the ground!? Can someone please explain that!? Now, the lackluster jumping alone is fairly bad, but the developers cared less, so they had to make it look even more crippled (yeah, like it can be more crippled than that) by making it so that only 45% of the time, you can actually land on the still platform or moving platform, depending on what you're jumping on. This gets bad when you get further in the game, mainly because the white monsters are always repairing destroyed parts of the ground above you.
Imagine this: There's a moving platform above you, and some ground above it. You're on the platform, then you start headbutting the next section of ground, but fall to the ground, forcing you to wait for the platform again. Meanwhile, whitey sees this, runs back and gets some ice to fix it. But no worries, you can time your jumps so you can get up the moving platform then through the hole and up a bit more on the mountain. Of course, the jumping is crippled, so you either fall short, or miss because of how crippled the jumping mechanics are. And of course, the patch is repaired. Oops, guess you have to repeat that all over again.
And if that couldn't get any worse, try these "bonus stages" which you do when you do manage to get to the top of a level. You screw this one up, oops, guess you don't get points or anything like that. You might be thinking "pfft, its just some points system". Unfortunately...that's kinda the point of the whole game. Climb the mountain, eat the food, get to the VERY top and get the last bit of food up there, and repeat 31 times. Again, I don't mind it. Gets repetitive but hey, it's a simple concept and it works well on paper. Just when they got to programming, they screwed up the jumping part, and that turns the bonus parts from a nice, simple little thing that worked well on paper into a pile of pee. Yes folks, it turned from 100% cool to 0%. Oh, and the timer, can't forget about that. You have 40 seconds to get from the start to the very top of the mountain once you enter the bonus part. Again, no problem, just means we have to hurry it up a bit. But wait...remember, there's crippled jumping, and since there's lots of jumping...oh great, I was nearly there but this stupid jumping...ARGH! Guess what, I ran out of time because of that very reason...If it wasn't for that, I would've gotten to the top on time. But since the jumping pretty much requires luck, you better be lucky to reach the top and truly finish the level...or at least get a high score.
And really, that's all Ice Climber is about. Getting the highest score possible without dying. Speaking of which...
Dying is going to happen quite a bit. Some of it would be your fault because you weren't paying attention to your surroundings, but a lot of it would be because of the jumping mechanics! If you miss a platform and land on an enemy, you die. Yes folks, it's "1 hit, you're dead, you lose a life", and you got 3 lives. If you lose all 3, you get a game over, your score resets to 0 and its back to the title screen.
What can cause a life to be lost would be the white creatures, some birds, a polar bear and ice spikes that drops from platforms. You can hit the whiteys, birds and polar bears with your hammer, and should just dodge the spikes. Of course, the same goes for falling down a pitfall if you're fairly high up, though for some odd reason, you don't lose a life if you fall in a pit during the bonus part. Umm...when you're doing the bonus part, you're HIGHER UP the mountain. It would've made more sense to die up there...though, if we did die when we fell in the pits during the bonus parts, then it wouldn't exactly feel like a bonus. The bonus is just another way to get more points, and like I said, this game is about getting to the top of the mountains to get food and to score points, and the bonus part should feel more like a bonus, so replace the death pits with a time limit, and end a level by either falling in a pit which just ends the level or run out of time. However, when you lose all 3 of your lives, you're back at the title screen.
Speaking of which...if you pay attention to the mountain text on the title screen, and press left or right on the D-pad, notice how the number changes from, say, 1 to 2? Apparently, you can select your levels. It sounds cool, kind of like in Megaman, but unfortunately for this game, what does it matter? Each level is the same, only the higher the mountain number, the harder the level is. That's it. You could just test yourself and try out the last level as soon as you pick up the game by pressing left on the D-pad once and then press Start, then try it out, but then fail miserably as you lose all 3 of your lives and come back to the title screen a bit after you just left it.
So after some time of screwing up because of handicapped jumping, scoring a fair amount of points because the jumping worked sometimes and going through about 30 mountains, you're probably starting to get bored, right? That's to be expected since the gameplay gets old, stale, repetitive and plain boring after some time. There's nothing really fun about this game. This is just boring. I understand this is a launch title, but come on! Other launch titles were fun! Duck Hunt or Kung Fu anyone? Yeah, those are fun! Ice Climber is just boring.
...so Ice Climber flops in the fun factor, but does it fail in the technical aspect of creation? No. It's almost quite the opposite, actually. Let's look into them...through breakdown!
Boring, in amongst crippled jumping mechanics. I think I explained enough. This may have been groundbreaking during 1985 and quite influential to many games, but many games do it right. Ice Climber would've been funner if the jumping wasn't so crippled.
The control scheme itself is simple and easy to remember...A to jump, B to hit enemies with your mallet, Start to pause and the D-pad to move around. Up and down were useless though because you can't aim your hammer upwards while holding up, and you couldn't duck while holding down. Nope, no ducking or higher aim here. But what really annoys me here is that the jumping is a pain. Not only is it crippled as far as moving around is concerned, but its controls are as random as an ongoing hemorrhoid hurts; in other words, it will be the cause of many deaths! Jumping after pressing A is just so random. Of course, if you're holding a direction on the D-pad, you'll jump in that direction, but height and length of jump is completely random. So you better time your jump right...it may be your last with the current score you got.
There's no story worth mentioning so it doesn't count
These graphics are perfect, especially for a game that came out in 1985. Sure, they're not super detailed, but then again, '85 was when the NES managed to have slightly more advanced graphics than the Atari 2600, so really, asking for more at this time would be asking for too much. The graphics themselves are crisp, clean and easy on the eyes. The ice climbers' graphics make them look more like innocent little Eskimos, the condor at the top of the mountain looks very evil and like a threat...and more like a pterodactyl than a condor, but that makes it look even cooler. The regular birds look more like...well, birds. And the white things...well, think of white furballs walking. As for the backgrounds, simple black never hurts, this was while the graphics still were just 1 step ahead of the Atari 2600's, not 2 steps ahead. The platforms also look clean and crisp, whilst looking like ice platforms that break, and the clouds look exactly like clouds only 8-bit. Dammit, the graphics are just too good, and I'll probably be here all day if I was to explain how well this game looks. If they managed to get the gameplay right, this would be one hell of a classic!
Much like the graphics, the sound aspect of the game is done very well, especially for an '85 game. The music is well done, with an almost catchy, small number of songs. There's a title screen/bonus part song, song when the condor takes the fruit to the sky and a song for when you're climbing the mountain. The three songs, at first, feel like very catchy songs, with the climbing one sounding fairly quirky. Eventually though, like the gameplay, the climbing track will get old and repetitive. But my main beef is this...you'll most likely forget the tracks! That's right, it doesn't matter how catchy they may feel at first, because after a while, you'll end up forgetting they existed, with the exception for the title/bonus music which is remastered in Super Smash Brothers Melee, and odds are you would've been playing the level with that music a lot anyway, so maybe that will be memorable, but the other two tracks, especially the condor one...not so much.
The sound effects are simply...well, there's this jumping one which is a slightly more enhanced version of Mario's jump sound. Actually, the sound effects, other than when you hit an enemy, are recycled from Super Mario Brothers, only a little more enhanced. The enemies being hit...well, let's think. What would it sound like if you hit something with a mallet in an anime? Now, imagine the 8-bit version of it...there you go! That's enemies being hit for you. These are slightly less easy to forget, though a couple will escape your mind.
The game takes about an hour and a quarter to complete as the levels are quite short and don't last long...and this is if you went from Mountain 1 to Mountain 32. Also, if you complete all 32 Mountains successfully, the only thing you can really do is to try and beat your high score. But here's a question. If you didn't like it the first time, why would you want to play it a second time? If you answered "to get a higher score", I'll ask again...why play a second time if you didn't like it the first time? The real answer is...well, there's none. If you didn't like it the first time, you didn't like it. There's no satisfaction in completing it a second time, because there's no fun in repeating what you didn't find fun in the first place.
This game, in my honest opinion, may be influential, but the games influenced by it...were fun! This game is the very opposite of fun! And the term "if it ain't broke don't fix it"...what!? I've had many people say this to me a fair amount since I got the game. Sorry, but the term and this game don't mix. It's broke, fix it! Well, not entirely broken, I mean, I've heard of games far more broken than this (and thank god I haven't played those, they are godawful and all make this game look like Super Mario Brothers, which is actually a perfect game especially for its time), but still, this game has a broken jumping mechanic, so that doesn't help the fact that this game is nothing short of boring. And I've been playing this game for over 4 hours before writing this review, and I still can't find anything fun about it! Says a lot, huh?
No, like I've played this for over a week about an hour at a time just to review it, and then today, about 4 hours to seriously analyze it, honestly, it wasn't fun the first hour on Monay, it sure as hell isn't fun the last hour on Saturday (today). Hell, I was literally asleep playing today. It caused many deaths, and annoyed me beyond insanity since it's that boring it puts you to sleep after some time, but you have to focus because furballs are always repairing cracks, birds often hit you when you're standing, and polar bears always finish you off if you take too long. At that point, I knew this game was just beyond boring...
I'm sure many like it, but I just seriously couldn't stand it.
Ice Climber...sounded like a great idea when written down, but when executed, it was all audio-visual and no interactivity...worth experiencing anyway. As a release game, it wasn't all that bad, but as an NES release game, it't not worth your time. Stick with Super Mario Brothers and Kung Fu, they are also '85 games but also very fun.