Ice Climber is an early NES title that can be played with 1 or 2 players, and 2 players can be competitive or somewhat cooperative. Players are Eskimos wielding mallets who try to ascend the mountain to the top, getting past obstacles on the way. At the top there will be a bonus stage which, if failed, will simply lose the chance to earn points rather than dying as is the case with the rest of the mountain. Players accumulate points through the 32 different mountains as the difficulty increases.
Mechanics of an Ascent
The two Eskimos, Popo and Nana, each have a mallet, which works automatically when they jump, clearing out ice platforms and birds overhead, and they can also swing it to stun yetis, destroy ice that yetis are pushing, and knock birds into the water. The main purpose of the mallet is to break through the ice that will be overhead. The ice that isn't broken away will then be a platform for the next level in the ascent. Some of the ice is unbreakable, while some is all but frictionless, making it very hard to maneuver.
At each level in the climb there may be a yeti (or seal in the Japanese versions) which will scroll from the left or right side of the screen. Taking a mallet to the yeti will stun it, sending it away and dropping down if it happens to be near a hole in the floor. Touching the yeti is lethal, and yetis also push ice out from their caves to cover gaps that the players have left in the ice.
Birds will also begin flying down, and are also lethal if touched, but can also be taken out with the mallet. Some places have very little platforms to stand on, and tend to have indestructible floating clouds that scroll past. In later levels these scroll by faster and faster as well as becoming smaller and smaller.
Death comes should the player fall too far down (into an area near the bottom of the screen should there be no platform to catch Popo's fall). This can be used to the advantage of the other player in a competitive game, and respawning will sometimes happen in very precarious positions, increasing the chance for a chain of deaths.
When the player reaches about halfway up, they will reach a bonus area where several slightly anthropomorphic vegetables are laid out. Players race to collect these before the time expires (in a bonus round vaguely similar to Nintendo's Mario Bros.). At the end, the players make a jump for a condor resembling a pterodactyl that scrolls across the top of the screen. Hitting the bottom of the screen, running out of time, or reaching the condor ends the bonus stage, and then points are awarded for vegetables collected, birds and yetis malleted, yeti ice crushed, and floor segments destroyed. The scores are tallied, and then it's time for a new mountain.
There is also a polar bear wearing pink speedo and sunglasses that comes out if the player takes too long to advance a level. Should it stand at the middle of the screen, it will jump down. When it hits the bottom, scrolling the screen one level automatically, possibly forcing the player to lose a life.
- Vegetable - Varies depending on type
- Yeti ice - 400
- Bird (Nitpicker) - 800
- Ice Blocks - 20
- Reaching the Condor first - 1000 X seconds remaining (?)
The Ice Climbers make an appearance in the Super Smash Bros. series as playable characters. They work in tandem, acting as one character.
The Nitpicker bird shares the name with the birds that plague Donkey Kong Jr. in his eponymous game.