Summer has officially started with record high temperatures across much of Canada, so let’s take a break and cool off with some of the best ice levels in gaming history.
Games, as a medium, provide a respite from the real world, and what more would we like to avoid than a real fire in the ocean or 50 degree temperatures? So, to give you some inspiration and make you think, I’ve put together a list of my favorite ice levels from the game’s past.
Lots of games feature at least a snowy environment, but what makes a really great “ice level”? My selections below are doing something After than simply introducing a white color palette to diversify the backgrounds. As we will see, these areas tell us about the history and / or the protagonists of their games. Starting your favorite opus from SSX can accomplish the same, but most of these levels go a step further.
One caveat before we begin, however. i’m a huge Star wars fan but you won’t see any Hoth levels on this list – I took them out of the race because there are so many of them. Hey, Star Wars game developers? As we enter a new era of video games for the franchise, keep in mind that all is well. do not to go to Hoth or any other frozen planet.
Without further ado, let’s get into it with …
Pokémon Sword and Shield – Crown of Tundra (2020)
Despite all the drama leading up to its launch, the current generation of Pokémon games got off to a good start in terms of sales and won a victory round with a two-part expansion pass that adds two new wild areas to the region. from Galar. The second, the Crown Tundra, is home to a handful of new Legendary monsters, a lair where most of the series’ Legendaries are located, and one of the most visually interesting areas. Pokémon Sword and Shield.
From the station, the trainers discover the humble hamlet of Freezington, where the villagers forge a existence and cultivate arid fields. The questline takes players through winding caverns and across snow-covered fields to the Crown Shrine on top of a mountain. To the south of the region, where temperatures rise a bit, grows the Dyna tree where Galarian variants of the legendary birds are found, while the Regi line dwells in scattered ruins.
The Crown Tundra is a great place to go after you’ve become a Champion. Unlike snowy regions in later phases of the main game, this is a fully developed region that doesn’t feel like you’re just ticking a box on a list of climates. More than “just the level of ice,” it really shows what the concept of Wild Areas could bring to the franchise.
Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles – Ice cap area (1994)
Okay, there isn’t a lot of subtext here – this level of ice cream is just awesome. Sonic starts Act One on a snowboard for some reason, explores frozen caverns, then rushes to the surface to cross the mountain in Act Two. Knuckles gets a similar path with the cartridge add-on, spending more time inside the mountain. And all the while, you’re accompanied by one of the best pieces in Sonic history.
From the start, Sonic games struggled to balance their “must go fast” attitude with players’ natural impulse to stop and smell a little roses. Sonic 3 & Knuckles hasn’t always walked that tightrope perfectly, but Ice Cap Zone is one of its best levels. The setting naturally interacts with common play elements without interrupting the flow too much – you may need to smash frost covering a spring or smash platforms through walls, but as a follow-up to the Carnival Night Zone chore , Ice Cap Zone looks like Sonic Peak again.
And seriously, the music is so good here. This just might be the best soundtrack on Ice Level, ever.
Final Fantasy VII – Icicle Inn, Grand Glacier, Cliffs of Gaea (1997)
After some infamous death scene, Final Fantasy VII continues with an excursion to the North Pole. Cloud and his group reach the icy town of Icicle Inn, snowboard down the mountain, and through the Grand Glacier maze, where they risk vanishing. After a brief respite, they again have to go through the caves of Gaea Cliffs, doing a mini-game to stay warm while scaling ice walls. Disc One built on a powerful emotional crescendo; The second disc then indulges in a prolonged icy stay to give the characters and the player time to reflect before raising the stakes even higher with the long-awaited “Reunion” at the North Crater.
Changing its gameplay with temporary mechanics is one of the Final Fantasy VIIlasting strengths of, and this series of ice levels is a perfect example. Snowboarding was a fun minigame, enough to spawn its own spinoff title in Japan, and both icy regions have some interesting unique mechanics. The icy decor evokes the cold touch of death, which now hangs over the party after losing one of their own.
And hey, you can “fight” icicles in battle to open up new paths in the dungeon, a pretty unique touch.
Without ski (1991)
Originally developed as a hobby and training project by Microsoft programmer Chris Pirih, SkiFree was distributed in the Microsoft Entertainment Pack serial and in the case of blank floppy disks. Although it was not integrated into the core Windows software like Solitary, Minesweeper, or Free cell, it was one of the most popular games in the series and still elicits a strong nostalgic reaction from a generation.
The skiing experience is fun and involved for a small game developed by one person in the early Windows era, and it remains a lovely way to burn some time to this day. But what really sets it apart is the infamous Yeti, which swoops down on the player after crossing the 2,000-meter course. Suddenly, whatever game mode you were playing, SkiFree becomes a frantic quest for survival. Are you going to get past the monster’s fangs or are you going to crash into a tree trying?
There might not be a deeper meaning, but for all the kids in the early ’90s who were traumatized by the yeti in their elementary school computer lab, there might be no more. iconic ice level. (Did you know you can still play this fundamental piece of PC gaming history for free on Classic Reload?)
Metroid Fusion – Sector 5, & Metroid Prime – Phendrana Drifts (2002)
It was really hard to choose between that and Metroid Prime‘s Phendranna Drifts. So, since both games were released in the same week and featured exemplary ice levels, a first for the series, they can share top honors.
A fairly early field of Metroid Prime, the Phendrana Drifts are a pretty sharp change in tone. Samus arrives in the area and must cross the ice blocking the hallway. She emerges into a large open space where the snow cracks under her feet and pieces of ice float on the water. Enemies can temporarily freeze her visor while she explores. Meanwhile, a serene piano melody floats in the background like snowflakes lazily floating from the sky.
Calm and unsettling atmospheres have always been the hallmark of Metroid but the Phendrana Drifts were, at this point, the most natural environment he has presented, a far cry from the horror / sci-fi inspired environments of the previous games of the 1980s. Meanwhile, as the title GameCube presents a serene natural space, its brother Game Boy Advance used a similar artificial setting to illustrate something about the protagonist of the series.
If you have played Metroid series, you know that Metroid titutlar creatures are ice weak. They are almost invincible jellyfish that devour the brain until you hit them with an ice beam or missile. At the beginning of Metroid Fusion, Samus is attacked by the voracious parasite X, and is only saved by an infusion of Metroid DNA.
The implications of this are clearly shown when Samus tries to enter the Sub-Zero Containment Zone or the arctic climates of Sector 5. With the subtle characterization characteristic of the series, we realize that Samus has been forever changed by the encounter with Parasite X – the dreaded hunter now takes damage from the extreme cold, hoisted by his own firecracker. She needs to get the Varia Suit upgrade to safely explore sub-zero areas again, and we can experience the Winter Wonderland which is Sector 5.
Well, here ! Five frozen worlds that might not only chill you from the inside out, but provide powerful game design in the process. (Or maybe being chased by a hungry yeti is enough to make you appreciate the summer heat.) And you, is your favorite ice level on our list?