Ice Climber (Famicom/NES, 1985) – #0031





Ice Climber is a mountain-climbing expedition that sees two Eskimos climb up a series of thirty-two (!) treacherous peaks. Why risk their lives trudging up these different mountains, time and time again? Not for the fame or the glory or the potential sponsorship deals waiting for them at the bottom. No, they’re in it for a variety of garden vegetables, and to grab onto the condor at the top of the mountain. 1985, baby!


The true flight of the condor.


Eskimos Popo and Nana are armed with hammers and oversized blue and pink, gender-announcing parkas. Separately or together, they scale through layers of ancient rock, smash obnoxious birds (Nitpickers) and adorable small yetis (Topis), and try not to fall back down the mountain. In addition to the mountain itself, clouds serve as platforms and either move languidly across the screen or fly past like they’re on a time-sensitive mission from God. Either way, you’ll need to jump between the rocky ground and the clouds to reach the summit.


That bird deserved every inch of Popo’s hammer.


About jumping… Popo and Nana haven’t gotten the hang of it. Since these Eskimos are presumably used to vertically scaling mountains, you’d assume that jumping would be one of their strong points, but alas. If they don’t land on the center of the ground or the cloud, they’ll fall through it. Mountain magic, perhaps? We’re not sure, but it’s frustrating when Popo/Nana look like they’re going to land on the tip of a passing cloud, then woops, just kidding, they fell several stories to their death. Being a mountaineer is rough.


Eight really is enough.


Jumping becomes more problematic the further you ascend. Later mountains ask you to leap between layers of fast-moving clouds while chipping away at icy rock and avoiding falling icicles that turn you into snowflakes when touched. It’s enough to drive a man insane. Popo and Nana are a resilient couple, though. Since there’s no time limit weighing them down, they’ll continue their ventures ever onward for as long as you want to journey with them. Don’t question their motives. Fresh vegetables in the Arctic really are worth it.


Doesn’t matter that the zucchini has eyes. Grab it, eat it, don’t think about it.




PLAYERS: 1-2 simultaneous


GENRE: Arcade

RELEASE DATE: 01/30/85 (JP), 10/1985 (US), 09/01/86 (EU)

ALSO ON: Arcade, NEC PC-8801, Famicom Disk System, e-Reader, Game Boy Advance, Virtual Console (Wii, 3DS, Wii U), NES Switch Online, Nintendo Switch (Vs. Ice Climber)


After several long weeks in the mind-numbing cold, Popo begins to hallucinate.


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Wally Wallcakes

I never knew this game had 32 levels. Holy geez! I remember playing it a lot as a kid and feeling like it went on forever, but I guess I never had the patience to get that far into it. Nice write-up, sir!

Third Star

Don’t forget, the that cheerful children’s toy, the Family Computer, had seals to club! What?! I don’t know what was worse – that or the sad, aggravating jumping mechanics. What the hell were you doing, Miyamoto? Out on a smoke break, when that was being put in? Dude!