Classic NES Series: Ice Climber Review

Ice Climber probably would have been better suited for release as part of a compilation of old NES games rather than as a stand-alone product.

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.

Yetis and birds stand in your way as you try to make it to the top of the ice mountain.

The name really sums up the action pretty well. In Ice Climber, you'll attempt to reach the top of each icy mountain in order to proceed. Each of the game's 32 mountains is broken up into floors, so you'll work your way up from one floor to the next, navigating moving platforms, avoiding falling icicles, and busting up enemies with your hammer. Once you get to the top of the main stage, a bonus game starts, where you must hop up another series of platforms and, once you reach the top, grab onto a passing pterodactyl. Once the bonus game is completed, bonus points are tabulated, and you move on to the next level.

Ice Climber includes two-player simultaneous play. When playing with a friend--which can be done with only one cart via a GBA link cable--you play cooperatively to ensure that one player doesn't get left behind as the screen scrolls up. But once the bonus game starts, all bets are off, and the first player to reach the pterodactyl gets the points.

This is a pretty accurate port of the original NES version of Ice Climber.

Graphically, Ice Climber appears as it did upon its initial release. So, of course, it falls short when compared to current GBA releases, but that's to be expected considering the game is intended to mirror a 20-year-old game as closely as possible. The sound is a similar story. The music is still catchy, but from a purely technical angle, it doesn't really live up to today's standards. Of course, you really wouldn't want it to, either. Aside from the fact that the text and backgrounds look slightly squashed because of the GBA's different screen aspect ratio, this is an accurate port of the original NES game.

If you're a diehard fan of Ice Climber, this game is worth picking up. However, if you aren't a hardcore nostalgia buff, the $20 price tag is a pretty steep price to pay for a game this simple. Ice Climber probably would have been better suited for release as part of a compilation of old NES games rather than as a stand-alone product.

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Jeff Gerstmann has been professionally covering the video game industry since 1994.

Ice Climber More Info

  • First Released October 1985
    • e-Reader
    • Famicom Disk System
    • + 3 more
    • Game Boy Advance
    • NES
    • Sharp X1
    Average Rating766 Rating(s)
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    Developed by:
    Published by:
    Nintendo, Hudson
    Platformer, Action, 2D
    Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
    All Platforms
    No Descriptors