Ice Climber

Submitted by b on Wed, 08/29/2018 - 10:00

A long time ago (in video game years, at least) I got a call from my mom during Summer Break. One of her coworkers was apparently getting rid of some NES games that they didn't want, and she wanted to know if I had heard of a game called 'Ice Climbers'. I was a pretty big Nintendo fan... but I hadn't. Since the Internet wasn't really a thing that I had any access to, and since a lot of those old 'black label' NES games were released and out of stores before I got my first NES, it's not super-surprising that I hadn't heard of it. I didn't think much more about it for a lot of years. Until 2002 or so.

That's when Animal Crossing for the GameCube came out. I enjoyed the game well enough, and it was fun to visit my friends' villages and do the in-game stuff (I refused to mess with the clock to make things happen faster, which let me stretch out the fun I got for a lot longer), but what I really liked was the inclusion of a bunch of those 'black label' NES games. The memory card came with one (Mine was Balloon Fight), and you could get a few more by doing certain things in-game (this was before Nintendo realized it could make a lot of money by reselling you their old back catalog over and over and over again, but that's a rant for another day).

Animal Crossing was also compatible with the Nintendo e-Reader. I'm pretty sure that I'm the only one on earth that bought one, but it's a device you plug in to your Game Boy Advance, and you can read special codes on special cards that do things in supported games. In Animal crossing, that mostly meant that you could scan a card and you'd get a letter from the animal on the card, which was OK. There were also some mini games you could play for some in-game goodies. I bought a ton of cards and then one day, I got a little something extra

Animal Crossing e-Card featuring Animal Crossing

It was an Ice Climber e-Card! There were two games you could unlock this way (and this way only, without resorting to some kind of m4d h4x): this one and Mario Bros. I bought a lot more packs of cards, but never got the other one, or a duplicate of this one.

But, hey! One is pretty good, right? So, I finally got to play the game that I hadn't really thought much about, and hadn't really heard all that much about! That's something, right?

The thing is, though, that the game is not actually very fun. Your Ice Climber has the most bizarre jump mechanics I've ever tried to use, and in a game that's primarily about jumping, that's kind of a problem. For instance, you can't land on platforms like you might expect (apparently you need to make sure that your rear end is touching the platform, if your feet are touching it, they go right through), when you do manage to jump, you go nearly straight up and lose a lot of your forward momentum, and so on.

But the characters endure, somehow, and the game keeps getting (re)re-released on Nintendo's virtual platforms, and in the NES Classic, and the characters keep appearing in Smash Bros., somehow. And, do I regret not picking up that copy all those years ago? No, not really. I only have a physical copy now because I found it for really cheap on eBay. But even with Nostalgia Goggles(tm) on (they're rose-tinted!) this game is terrible, and it's pretty much all due to the wonky controls. But bizarrely bad controls are kind of a staple of old Nintendo games, see also: Balloon Fight, Clu Clu Land, Urban Champion, and a litany of other games that we'll get to eventually.