Dateline : 25th November 2011


With the nights drawn in and everything going that bit colder, RetroBear dons his Parka jacket, grabs hold of the nearest hammer and goes out to thwack some long haired freaks. No he’s not hippy-bashing, he’s yeti-squashing in Ice Climber……


One of the original launch titles for the NES in the US, Ice Climber originally had you whacking seals with a hammer before someone decided yetis might be a bit more acceptable

With winter coming it only seems appropriate to find a cold weather themed game. Yes I know I have already covered Frostbite on the 2600. So anyway I decided to select one of the earliest games released for the NES. If you like polar bears and eskimos then this is probably the other game for you aside from Frostbite. I am of course wittering on about Ice Climber.


This was one of the launch titles for the NES in the USA and was programmed by Kazuaki Morita, who went on to become one of the main programmers on Super Mario Bros. It follows the adventures of Popo who with the aid of his ice hammer, has to chop holes in the ice ceilings to climb up through 8 levels of ice before reaching the top level. This is a bonus stage where you have a set time to collect bits of fruit (yes fruit – why fruit ?) as part of a bonus level.


Wallop the yetis to give you some more time to dig your holes and move up the levels


Along the way you have to avoid yetis, giant polar bears who wear sunglasses and a red bird called a Nitpicker, which unless I am very much mistaken isn’t a real bird at all. After hacking holes in the ice you have to jump through them. On occasions this will have to be done by jumping onto moving platforms, and once the hole is cut you have to be quick otherwise the yetis fill them in. Adding to your woes are the icy drips that form and plummet at you at a very fast speed indeed. You will certainly need quick reactions and wits in this one.


Sadly for me Ice Climber is very much a product of it’s age. There is no doubt it is a very good game but unfortunately I found some of the collision detection of the jumps to be as ropey as hell. More often than not I appeared to have landed on the platform, only to sail through it and drop back down again. That rather large fault aside, it’s a fun game but I don’t think it’s one I personally will keep going back to.


That is not to say Ice Climber is a forgotten relic of the past. Oh no, many versions have appeared on Nintendo consoles since then : a port of the arcade version, Vs Ice Climber, made its way to the Famicom Disk System in 1988, in 2002 a version was tucked away in the Gamecube version of Animal Crossing, the Gameboy Advance had it’s own version in 2004 and you can access the original via the Virtual Console on the Wii (this was also one of the ROM’s included for 3DS owners who invested in that console at launch).


After you clear 8 platforsm (numbered down the side) the top part is a bonus level where you collect fruit. How original is that ?


So there are plenty of ways of getting hold of this, and certainly its worth some of your time. I just didn’t find it grabbed me in perhaps the way I expected and as such I shan’t be going back to it. Pity because with the cold weather coming, one needs warm feeling games to get you through the bleak midwinter.


VERDICT : Falls through the ice after a while. Stay inside, keep warm and do something less chilly instead.


NOTES : No copies to be found over on Amazon. Over on eBay you can bid from around £3.00, but Buy It Now will cost you a hefty £24.99 and that’s cart only !


UP NEXT : Early mornings and after school deliveries ? Why it must be Paperboy on the Sega Master System.