A fitting game entry as this morning I slammed into no less than two Yetis on the way to the Vault. Luckily Mr. Plow was able to lend me a hand clearing the winter build up from the entrance...let it never be said that I've never been willing to put myself or a Yeti in harms way for your benefit.
Ice Climber was released to the NES in 1985 though my first contact with it came about thanks to Jims' Razorback Pizza, they had an arcade cabinet that housed multiple games, it was known as the Nintendo Vs. System and seems to have been marketed as a kit to retrofit Donkey Kong, Mario Brothers, and a few others. It was basically a way for old NES games to be pushed into the arcades. Not a bad idea when you are talking about Ice Climbers.
As far as game play goes Player 1 dons the parka of Popo while players 2 is forced to wear the pink parka as Nana. Together you have to use your wooden mallets to smash the ice bricks above you, so that you may ascend to the icy summit. If you manage to reach the top you enter a bonus level where you are tasked with collecting various vegetables on a limited amount of time. In fact the story of the game is that Popo and Nana are chasing a condor who has stolen their villages vegetables. Heady stuff.
As you smash the ice above, if you can for some colored blocks are unbreakable, forcing you to find an alternative route, like over slippery ice blocks you will have to deal with the Toki and their charming ability to go grab a block of ice and fill your opening back up. The Toki is a beaked Yeti. Though in Japan the Toki is in fact a seal...Nintendo felt they would be getting some flak for having kids clubbing seal with a mallet in America.
There is also the Nitpicker, which is a bird that swoops down to try and ram into you...generally when you are trying to time your jump. And finally there is a polar bear, who wears Hawaiian shorts and sunglasses, he only shows up if you have taken too long to advance upwards, he'll punch the ground which causes the screen to move up one level...and hopefully you've carved out an opening and hopped up to the next level or it's an automatic loss of a life.
In the Vs. System there is a purple bee with a javelin...but I truthfully do not remember that in the arcade.
I do remember though that trying to play a co-op game with a guy who has been guzzling beer and smells of supreme pizza was just as productive as taking my quarter and hurling it into the street. Lots of apologies were directed my way as the guy would clear out a path for himself, leaping upwards and leaving my guy to die below.
This game was the first programmed by Kazuaki Morita, the main programmer for Super Mario Bros., in fact he calls Ice Climber his warm-up title.
The high-score holder for the NES version of Ice Climber is Will W. Carlough with a total of 1,292,130 on Oct. 17th, 2007.
A big thanks to Nintendoworld and Brothersoft for the 'borrowing' of their images.