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The original Ice Climber for the NES still holds a special place in my heart. It was the first multiplayer game that really drove my friends and I to spend hours glued in front of the TV, pounding Coca-Cola and wolfing down Gummi Bears in an effort to force our bodies up past 1 AM in the morning. During those extended gaming sessions we could be heard giggling like schoolgirls as we bumped and battled for position on the game's tiny moving platforms in a frantic attempt to be the first one up the mountain and to that elusive cache of bonus points. Now, 20 years later Nintendo has brought Ice Climber back, this time on the GameBoy Advance as part of their Classic NES series, and I'm happy to say that the game has still retained all the unique charm that made it so appealing back in the day.
This one will be a popular title in Nintendo's marketing campaign. I remembered it and so will a lot of other people. And they will play till they can't climb any more.
The concept is old-school arcade-simple: Guide a hammer-wielding Eskimo to the top of a mountain, then to the top of another mountain, and then another and another. Much like a modern office building, each mountain has eight ?floors? filled with various perils for the climber to avoid: white fuzzy things, high winds, birds, falling icicles, and the like. To reach the next floor, the climber often has to use his head to chip away at the ceiling, while workers above toil to seal the gaps. Beyond the top floor lies a large, timed ?bonus course? worth tons of bonus points if you?re really, really good with that jump button.
Nintendo's classic Ice Climber is definitely no stranger to the Game Boy Advance. Not only was it hidden as a collectible in Animal Crossing for the GameCube (which, in turn, is downloadable into a linked-up Game Boy Advance system), but it was also among the third edition batch of NES e-Reader cards. The game has already established itself as a fun and challenging classic that retains its charm in handheld form, but the latest release of the game on cartridge in the Classic NES Series brings back a couple of elements previously lost in the portable translation.
Though Ice Climber has seen a bit of a surge in popularity recently because its lead characters appear in the GameCube fighting game Super Smash Bros. Melee, the game didn't make too much of a splash when it was originally released on the Nintendo Entertainment System. This 8-bit game is seeing a rerelease, however, as part of Nintendo's new Classic NES Series. With link cable support to allow for the game's two-player simultaneous play, this Game Boy Advance version delivers the same experience that NES players first saw almost 20 years ago.
In contrast to Nintendo's other NES Classic releases, Ice Climber isn't a timeless classic. It's one of those first-generation NES games that people bought because there wasn't anything else available besides Urban Champion, and who in their right mind wanted Urban Champion? It's not awful or anything, but it definitely shows its age. Still, as one of the first NES games to offer simultaneous cooperative/competitive play -- something Nintendo is absolutely obsessed with these days -- it probably makes the cut for offering a roadmap of the company's future, albeit a vague, imprecise one.
Cheat Code Central
Ice Climber has never been one of my favorite games and if you've never played it before I doubt it will be one of yours. It's just too repetitive for today's gamers. It would have made a good mini game but that's about it. Unless you're a true fan leave this one out in the cold.