Ice Climber’s legacy is one where it lives in it own shadow. Ice Climber was among the first few black box NES titles. Between virtual console, classic machines miniaturized, and friends houses I’ve always had decent access to Ice Climber. I never really viewed it as more than a twenty minute diversion.
Ice Climber is deceivingly simple, but incredibly ambitious. A goal of only climbing to the top of the stage while getting the highest score possible. Very easy to grasp how to accomplish your goal. Yet the game includes complete simultaneous co-op play. Something rarely seen on the NES.
Ice Climber has some of the worst jumping controls on the NES. It’s like some weird precursor to the Belmont strut, but you can jump as high as Mega Man in water. Having to break through each layer with these controls was tedious and annoying.
Ice Climber is far surpassed by its stars Nana and Popo, with their place as mainstays of the Super Smash Bros. roster. I don’t really understand why the decision was made to include these two themselves.
Many could be all-stars were considered for the role the Ice Climbers fill in Melee. Urban Champion, Takamaru, and Balloon Fighter come to my mind first. I feel like these games leave a longer legacy than Ice Climber. Yet the Ice Climbers are basically household names.
There isn’t a big reason to go back to Ice Climber. It’s a short experience with awful controls. Yet it really finds an interesting balance with that multiplayer. I can’t bring myself to hate this game. Perhaps it’s the presentation, or the charm of such a “prototype” experience. Because this multiplayer really does feel like they released a multiplayer prototype with a slapped on single-player mode.
I think Ice Climber is remembered only faintly. Sort of like the ghost town of a legacy title. Ice Climber itself is barely remembered, whilst it’s characters live on in fame for eternity. I really find it interesting how Ice Climber basically became an outlier of gaming as a whole. Barely remembered for it’s flaws or it’s strengths, Ice Climber floats around in a void few other games will ever get the displeasure of experiencing.