101 (edited by Mezzopiano 2016-12-26 07:50:21)

Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 25: Mount Lanakila (Pokémon Moon)

Pokémon Sun and Moon are the seventh generation of Pokémon games. There's battling and trading and catching to do and there are Pokéballs and types and legendaries and things, but now it's in Hawaii! Yep, the new region of Alola is a bunch of tropical islands. Thankfully, unlike the last time they put a Pokémon game on an island region, they remembered to include an icy place. Also, for you people who just got this today or don't have it yet, SPOILER WARNING.


These aren't my screenshots, since sadly Moon (nor any other Pokémon game, apparently) does not let you save screens to Miiverse, and I'm not going to get a capture device just for this one day. Anyway, Mount Lanakila on Ula'Ula Island is the tallest mountain in Alola. Professor Kukui decides to make it the site of Alola's first Pokémon League, and once your island challenge is complete, invites you there to test it out.


That basically makes this area Alola's version of Victory Road. Actually though, it's nowhere near as much of an ordeal to get through as Victory Road usually is, being only a few short screens. Around here you can find lots of wild Ice types, naturally. Most have been seen in prior games, but one of the new ones is the Alolan variant of Sandshrew and Sandslash, which are Ice/Steel rather than Ground type. I picked up one of these of my own, named Coldsteel.

Coldsteel: <Pssh... nothin' personnel, kid.>


Also here is an Ice Rock that evolves Eevee into Glaceon and Crabrawler into Crabominable, a TM for Ice Beam, and the Ice-type Z-Crystal, Icium Z. This last one allows Pokémon to use the Ice-type Z-move, Subzero Slammer.


It's, well, pretty cool. It's also probably the last Z crystal you'll get, and thankfully one of the Elite Four is weak to ice.


At the top, the Pokémon League awaits. Will you be able to defeat Alola's Elite Four and become its first Champion? I'm not going to spoil who they are, but I will say that despite the setting, none of them is an Ice specialist. Which is a shame, since, y'know, it'd be perfect for here.

The music for the ascent is an icy version of your typical intense Victory Road theme, and it's pretty fun.


Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 26: Time and Place (Braid)

Braid is an artsy puzzle/platform/mostly puzzle type game. It's got jumping like Mario and a boy named Tim has to save a princess, but it's all a metaphor for something and subversive and may be related to the atomic bomb. It also has a lot of puzzles based around time manipulation. Unlike games where you die and then have to restart from somewhere, in Braid you can just turn back the clock and undo your death instantly.


Time and Place is the title of World 4, which is actually world 3 because the game starts with World 2. The gimmick in this world is that time moves in the direction you do. When you move right, time moves forward. When you move left, time reverses. When you stand still or move vertically, it stops. This extends to absolutely everything in the level, even the music. Objects that shimmer green are immune to time manipulation and key to many puzzles here. Also, all the puzzle pieces you get in this world are green, since otherwise you'd risk uncollecting them as you walk the other way.


This game sure loves its Mario references. A lot of puzzles have you extending your jump height by bouncing off these minions. It gets more complicated here, since if you jump off them while moving left, their death is immediately reversed and you can bounce on them repeatedly.


Unfortunately, these static screenshots can't really capture how downright weird it is that time is stopped whenever you're not moving. It certainly gives you time to think, though.


This puzzle appeared back in world 2, but here it's a lot more complex. You have to defeat the enemies in a specific order, or else you'll move too far left and undo their deaths.


Even the snowflakes in the air are affected by this, hanging motionless while you pause for thought, or floating up as you backtrack.


At the end, you meet this guy who tells you the princess isn't here. This screenshot isn't badly timed: his dialogue only advances when you move forward and reverses when you move back, just like everything else in this world. After you've completed the puzzles in this world and advanced forward, you come one step closer to perhaps finding the princess, or the atomic bomb, or whatever metaphor Tim is searching for.


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Day 27: The Summit (Super Smash Bros. Brawl)

Okay, I like Smash Bros., I really do. It's a lovely series with a lot of really cool crossover things in it. So it is with a heavy heart that I ask... Why in Palutena's name does Smash 4 not have an ice level?! Seriously, I understand that the Ice Climbers couldn't make it in, but why do their stages have to be banished along with them? It's not like there hasn't been a ton of DLC for this game or anything. And between the two versions with almost wholly different stage lists, neither has even so much as a snowflake.


With that rant out of the way, thankfully there are previous Smash games which do, in fact, have ice levels. This one is based on the NES game Ice Climber, which is where the Ice Climbers hail from, naturally. It's the summit of Icicle Mountain, the mountain they spend their game climbing. Most of the floors here are pretty slippery.


As the battle rages on, the tip breaks off and you go sliding down the mountainside. This improves jump height and makes you fall slower for... some reason. I'm not really sure if that's accurate to physics at all, and my guess is it's probably not.


Eventually, you crash into the water at the bottom. Fighters can swim in this without any penalty, surprisingly, even characters like Sonic who can't swim in their own games.


That said, swimming around still isn't a very good idea, because this big fish will come and chomp on you. This thing isn't actually from Ice Climber, it's from another NES game, Balloon Fight. After a short while, the mountain rises to the top, and the process repeats. The whole cycle takes about 2 minutes, which fittingly is the default length for Time matches in Brawl. The default music for this stage is a mix of two themes from the original Ice Climber game, and plays in sync with the various phases.

104 (edited by Mezzopiano 2016-12-28 23:56:33)

Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 28: Crystal Caves (Donkey Kong 64)



IF YOU KNOW THE WORDS YOU CAN– Okay, forget it, that’s enough of that song. Anyway, for those of you who didn’t immediately recognize those lyrics, Donkey Kong 64 is the Donkey Kong Country series’ first and currently only foray into the realm of 3D platforming. It’s often shown as the most extreme example of the “collectathon” type platformers the late 90s loved.


All the levels in this game have alliterative names, and the Crystal Caves are no exception. This is a big cave system filled with ice crystals, naturally. There are a few ice castles around, plus some cabins. A river runs through the bottom of the cave system, which isn’t very deep.


A lot of these structures have multiple entrances that can only be opened by a specific Kong, and each one finds a different challenge within. Like most things in this game, you’ll have to switch characters a lot to snag all the collectibles. I beat this a long time ago but never 100%’d it, so I spent today trying to find anything I missed.


Well, things didn’t exactly go according to plan because this world is really, really, really easy to get lost in. All the caves and things look alike and blend toward each other, and this game’s weird camera issues don’t help.


I even tried to use Diddy Kong’s jetpack to get a better view, but that didn’t help either. At least I had some really nice music to listen to while getting lost in there.


Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 29: Whitefall Glacier (Bullet Heaven 2)

The Bullet Heaven games are a bullet-themed spinoff of the Epic Battle Fantasy franchise. Like EBF4, I picked this one up quite recently in the Steam sale, and was thrilled to discover it has a readily accessible ice world. Does this count as breaking the one-game-per-franchise rule? Maybe, but I don't really care. Besides, I haven't had an opportunity to showcase a bullet hell heaven game here yet.


This is less intimidating than it looks, since your hitbox is really only one pixel right in the middle, and if you get hit, you can counter with a bomb. I guess that makes this a good introduction to the subgenre, but I'm not really familiar enough with it  to say so definitively.


All of the heroes from EBF4 are playable, and each has their own selection of weapons and costumes. I've got Natalie here keeping warm using her fire magic and spamming bullets on everything that moves. And dodging, too.


Some enemies are frozen in ice blocks, or occasionally there are empty ice blocks in your path. These don't do anything unless you break them, at which point they shatter into bullets. A lot of times you have to break cubes that are in the way of enemies, which fills the screen with even more bullets.


And then other times you just have to dodge a lot of bullets. This being an ice world, most of them are blue and icicle- or snowflake-shaped. This doesn't really have any impact on gameplay, which is probably a good thing. Who'd want bullets that slow or freeze you or something?


This crystal golem is the end boss of the world. It's big and menacing and can fill the screen with snowflakes, ice shards, and crystal sword bullets. It takes a lot of focus and skillful dodging to bring it down, and once you do, you can move forward to the next world with even more bullets.


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Day 30: Chill Man's Stage (Mega Man 10)

Mega Man 10 is the last game of the classic Mega Man subseries. It is also not related to the other game named Mega Man X, though you could be forgiven for mistaking it for it. It’s a downloadable game that’s based on the old NES Mega Man games. Dr. Wily is at it again, and Mega Man is back to blow up some robots, get some weapons, and probably die a lot.


You feel the Absolute Chill running through you in this cold stage. Most of the floors are slippery and have low traction, and as is typical for Mega Man, there are a lot of instant-death spikes, bottomless pits, and annoying enemies around.


The main gimmick of this stage is the large ice blocks you can see in these screenshots. They break in two hits either from stepping on them or shooting with your weapons. Some weapons, like the Triple Blade and Solar Blaze, will shatter them in one hit. These can help or hinder you, and you need to be careful about which ones you destroy.


Get through that, and you meet Chill Man. Why is his head encased in an ice bubble? No idea. He’ll attack you with his Chill Spike weapon, which can freeze you, and erupts into a bed of spikes if it hits the ground or a wall. If you have the Solar Blaze weapon from Solar Man’s stage, it melts him and his spikes pretty quickly, and you get the Chill Spike for yourself. None of the Robot Masters in 10 are weak to ice per se, but the spikes will tear up Nitro Man, who turns into a motorcycle.


Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 31: Bottom of the Well (Child of Light)

At last we come to the month's end,
on this the old year's final night.
And here I have one message to send:
the tale of Aurora, the Child of Light.

Lost in a magical land is she,
and from her bedside she was torn,
yet to save the world is her destiny,
and she has no time to mourn.


When she happens upon a small town,
it has fallen under a spell.
The people are now crows wrapped in down,
and the source is the town's old well.

Here she meets the magician Finn,
who directs her to the old cave.
She can find the cursed spring within,
yet inside it is cold as the grave.


Many dark creatures stand here,
blocking the path to the spring.
Yet Aurora has little to fear,
for Finn's magic packs quite the sting.

With fire, water, lightning, and Aurora's light,
they can find the source they truly seek.
Their magic skills can save them from their plight,
so long as they use the ones to which each enemy is weak.


With all the elements of a good fight,
the party can move to the source of the curse.
But as they approach the home of the blight,
they encounter something much worse.

It is guarded by serpents three,
of water, poison, and fire.
Each has a weakness to be found easily,
but the party must withstand their ire.


A long and grueling battle ensues,
but once it's through the spring is pure.
Aurora and her friends would not lose,
and their reward is the blight's cure.

Finn is delighted that his people are back,
but Aurora knows her quest is not done.
She must find Umbra, the queen of nights black,
and rescue the moon, the stars, and the sun.


Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

BONUS: Pawliday Den (Catlateral Damage)

Yep, I decided to throw in an extra one this year! Catlateral Damage is a game where you are a cat and you like to knock things over. That's it. That's the whole game.


This bonus level was added in a December 2015 update. While it's quite obviously based on a certain winter holiday, there isn't actually any ice here so I decided to throw it in as a side level. There's lots of ornaments, paper snowflakes, and toys for you to knock to the floor and break.


The presents under the tree aren't just for show: they all contain cat toys that upgrade either your speed, jump, or swat strength. All three can get a pretty big buff from all the ones in here, allowing you even further power in your campaign of feline destruction.


This level is only one room, but still has around 200 or so objects to push around and crash into. Levels are randomly generated each time, so every run you take through the Pawliday Den will be a little different.


After taking down 222, I was satisfied and decided to complete the level by taking a cat nap in this nice box.


Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

It's that time of year again!

Day 1: The Tundra (Copy Kitty)

Copy Kitty is a platformer with an explosive mix-and-match weapon system and a ton of potential for destruction. This is actually currently my most played game on Steam so I apologize if I come off as a bit obsessed with it. I previously showcased this game's Endless Mode in my water level month, and this time we're looking at Story Mode.


World 11 takes Boki to an icy tundra. She can skate on the ice here and pull off some impressive twirling jumps.


Savant comes here too, but unfortunately, he can't skate since he floats through the air.


This area also introduces the Cube weapon, which lets you drop ice cubes on things. You can use them as platforms, to hold down pressure plates, or you can kick them to send them sliding across the ice.


Fire weapons are handy for clearing out the ice cubes fast, naturally. None of Boki's weapons are fire-based directly; instead, you can grab the Flame Talisman powerup to temporarily add fire damage over time to any weapon. There's a Freeze Talisman too, but surprisingly it doesn't appear in this world. Combining both gets you the Antipode effect to apply both flame and frost at once.


You even get to push a giant snowball around in one stage!


For stage 11-4, you get to fight against... a fire boss? Normally Yoggvals are recurring midbosses that scan the environment in order to generate an attack pattern, but this one got hijacked by an artifact before it could. Boki gets to copy its Phoenix Flare weapon too. After defeating it, it retreats to a hidden temple containing the artifact.


The rest of the world takes place inside the temple, which isn't icy. There's no skating, and the cubes are replaced by stone cubes that don't slide.


The Phoenix Yoggval returns with a vengeance as the world's main boss. It can revive itself like a phoenix multiple times, its flame burning brighter each time. Thankfully, this means Boki gets a stronger Phoenix Flare each time too. However, it's basically just an empty shell being controlled by the artifact at this point. Defeating it marks the end of the game, for now.

There's also Hard Mode, a secondary playthrough that changes much more than just the difficulty.


On Hard, there's no artifact left, so this Yoggval gets to be the ice boss it was meant to be. Its attacks hit much faster than the fire version, and the slippery floor makes dodging difficult. Instead of the Phoenix Flare you get a triple icicle shot to hit it with.


The ruins get a neon techno makeover too. This looks quite fancy.


Instead of the Phoenix Yoggval, Boki has to fight the Spectrum Yoggval, a rainbow-colored one that can shift forms between all the different Yoggvals fought across the game. It's a much longer fight than the normal mode version, since the thing has seven health bars total.

Physalis Phrost is the music for the icy areas, and it's pretty neat. It gets alternate mixes in Physalis Pharaoh and Physalis Photon for the normal and neon temples respectively, then Physalis Phoenix for the boss fight.


Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 2: Freudia's Stage (Rosenkreuzstilette)

Rosenkreuzstilette ("Rose Cross Stilettos", or "Blades of the Rose Cross") is Mega Man with magical girls. When the eight mages of RKS revolt against the Empire, it's up to a young mage named Spiritia Rosenberg to bring them down. This is pretty much a straight Mega Man clone, right down to the gameplay. There are eight bosses, each with a weapon they drop and a weakness against another's weapon type.


RKS member #002 is Freudia Neuwahl, an ice user. She and Tia were longtime friends, and Tia is shocked at her betrayal. Most people (including me) recommend tackling her stage last, for reasons that will become apparent.


Freudia's stage is Das Duell der Schicksale, or "Duel of the Fates". Boy, doesn't that sound familiar? It opens up with something pretty simple. There's deep snow that slows your walk speed, plus some cute enemies that aren't much of a threat. It's got some cool music too. And then...





Okay, for those of you who aren't recoiling in terror right about now, these lasers are ported straight from Quick Man's stage in Mega Man 2. They start firing off the moment you enter the screen, don't disappear once fired, and touching one is instant death. The only way to get past them is to be quick enough to get through the screen before they get you. These things are an absolute terror and often considered one of the nastiest design choices in all of gaming.


After many, many deaths, you might have the pattern down enough to get through and reach Freudia. She's not happy to see Tia again, and she holds nothing back in their duel. Her boss fight gets special music too.


She can teleport at will, making her a difficult target to hit, and her Freudenzwinger, Eislanze, and Schneekristall are all viciously damaging and very difficult to avoid.


Rather than being weak to a fire weapon, her weakness is the time-stopping Die Geplante Zukunft ("The Forseen Future"), but much like Quick Man, it only takes off half her health. And even at half health, she's quite intimidating for the reasons mentioned above. If you can manage to bring all her health down, she surrenders.


Spiritia gains her weapon, Freudenstachel ("The Sting of Joy"). This is a rapid-fire barrage of icicles that makes a good replacement for her default weapon, and can shred a bunch of enemies easily. It's particularly good on the weather mage Liebea, who's weak to it. Freudenstachel is also the title of the sequel to Rosenkreuzstilette, where Freudia takes the role of main character, so expect this series to show up again at some point. It's also a euphemism for a particular body part, but we're not going to talk about that here.


Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 3: Press Garden Zone (Sonic Mania)

Sonic Mania is the glorious return of Sonic from the good old days, made by a bunch of people who used to work on Sonic mods and fangames. Sonic is saved! Well, until Forces came out and ruined everything again. Playable Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles! Super form anywhere! Elemental shields! Genesis-style graphics! And most importantly of all, NO GREEN EYES! Most zones in Mania are copied straight from prior games, but this one is new.


Where's the ice? This is Eggman's press factory, continually printing out anti-Sonic propaganda. If you look through the windows you can see snow outside, but it's kind of hard to spot.


Until you get to act 2, that is, which takes you outside to this fanciful Japanese garden. It's very pretty, and you get to hear some fancy music while running around in the Blossom Haze.


Eggman's industrialism can be seen here too, with these wood chippers that shred the garden's trees for... something.


Anyone who's played Sonic 3 & Knuckles' Ice Cap Zone will recognize these machines that spit out freezing gas. However, their purpose in this one is different. You don't lose rings for being frozen, and instead you slide around and can smash through ice blocks.


If you have a fire shield, they don't work on you. You can't find one in this act, but there's one from the prior act you can bring along to here.


Enemies here include robot woodpeckers that drop bombs from the trees as you pass by, dragonfly bots that originally appeared in Mushroom Hill Zone, and pairs of crabs that will pass a sawblade between each other. The ice blocks you can break by jumping on them, standing near with a fire shield, or sliding through when frozen.


Rather than fighting Eggman, the boss at the end is one of his team of new baddies, the Hard-Boiled Heavies. They get their own boss theme, Hi Spec Robo Go. If you try to attack while he's ninja posing, he counters with a slash that freezes you. Instead you need to hit him while he's jumping and knock him to the ground. The shuriken he throws are actually starfish bots from Sonic 2's Metropolis Zone, and are quite dangerous as they split into five projectiles after a short period.

After beating him, you confront Eggman... who just zaps you with the Phantom Ruby, sending you to the next zone, Stardust Speedway.


Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 4: Frozen Court (Ittle Dew 2)

Those of you who remember last year might recall a game I mentioned called Ittle Dew, a silly little Zelda clone thing. It now has a sequel. It's still not Zelda, but it'll do, too. The adventurer Ittle Dew is lost on another island, and is plundering it for treasures and pieces of a raft so she can make her way off.


The southeast corner of the island is where this snowy area can be found. Signs pointing you there warn "Beware of the Slayer Jenny!"


It's good advice. Once she catches the scent of adventurer, she pursues you relentlessly. She can teleport at will and attack with a giant sword, plus some ice attacks that will slow you down. It's technically possible to defeat her, but I decided that just running for it was easier.


There are also swarms of these skeleton turnip things. Wait... turnips shouldn't even have skeletons.


If you look around (and don't get killed by the Slayer Jenny too much) you can find lots of hidden caves and secrets. Most of the court is taken up by a graveyard, a snowy plain, and a few rivers you can cross over with bridges in the area.


In the north edge of the graveyard is this fancy crypt, which is an entrance to one of the island's eight dungeons. This is actually the seventh dungeon, but I entered it second (the first was the Flooded Basement) since you can visit the first seven in any order.


A fire dungeon inside an ice level? Really? Ittle is happy for the warmth, but her sidekick Tippsie (correctly) predicts that it'll be partly ice based too. There are plenty of puzzles and enemies inside to challenge her with.


The Chilly Rogers from the first Ittle Dew are back, and this time they're much more threatening. Their shield blocks frontal attacks, and you have to dodge their cutlass swipes and charge in order to hit them from behind. When they reach low health, they turn into floating heads that cough out globs of freezing gas. Thankfully, you only encounter them one at a time.

The item found in here isn't the Ice Wand as you may expect (there is an ice item, but it's not in this dungeon). It's a chain for Ittle's stick that improves her melee range. This doesn't seem very useful until you realize you can use it to hit objects across 1-tile walls, which is key to many puzzles here. After completing that, Ittle can fight the boss to earn her second raft piece.


Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 5: Hebra Mountains (The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild)

After yesterday's Zelda-like, I thought it was a good idea to showcase an actual Zelda game. Breath of the Wild is the newest entry in the series, featuring open world survival crafting, lots of danger in the wild lands, and a departure from the usual Zelda formula.


In the northwest corner of Hyrule lies the Hebra region, a very cold mountainous area. To reach there, you'll need to cross the Thanagar Canyon, which is no easy task. Stopping by the nearby Rito Village isn't a bad idea either.


As previously mentioned, it's cold out here! Most clothes aren't suited for an environment like this, and if Link enters the area without any cold resistance he'll slowly freeze to death.


The best thing to wear is the Snowquill Tunic, which can be bought in Rito Village. It's packed with genuine Rito feathers to make sure Link stays warm and comfy. If you get it enhanced enough by a Great Fairy, it prevents freezing too. There's also a pair of snow boots you can get to make walking through the deep snow easier, but they don't provide any protection against the cold.


Honestly, though, the best way to travel around here is surfing down the slopes on Link's shield. Yep, just like in Twilight Princess, Link still gets to show off his snowboarding skills.


Fire weapons are a big help in this area, naturally. Keeping one such as the Meteor Rod pictured above by your side will warm you up a little, and the fireballs it shoots will one-shot icy enemies. Weapons in this game have limited durability, so you need to be careful how you use them to a certain degree.


You're never truly required to go here for the main story, but these mountains hide many secrets for those who seek them. You can find several hidden shrines, a secret hot spring, and a few other things.


One such thing is the Flight Range, a Rito-run archery range where Link can but his aerial aiming skills to the test. This is quite a valuable skill to have, particularly when going up against the flying Divine Beast Vah Medoh.


There's also an official shieldboarding course. If you can make it down to the end with a good time, you can win some special shields for riding on.


And sometimes you just have to stop and enjoy the view. The peaks provide quite the spectacle, provided the heavy snowfall that visits the area isn't clouding your visibility.


If you're really lucky, you might even be able to see an aurora. This is actually my first time finding this, almost as if to remind me that even though I've finished the game, there's always more to see.


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Day 6: Ice Floes (Starcraft)

Starcraft is the classic game of Warcraft in space. It's often considered one of the biggest and most influential games in real-time strategy of all time, and even after the release of the sequel is still played a lot. A remaster of this game was released this year, but I decided to keep to the old version which is now free to play. I'm no pro, so I just decided to take to a skirmish against the AI.


The original Starcraft didn't have an ice terrain option at first. It was added in the Brood War expansion. It's kind of hard to see the snow here, since most of my base is covered by creep. This mat of biomass allows your drones to mutate into Zerg buildings. You only start with four drones and a hatchery, so building up can be kind of slow at first.


This ramp is the main entrance to my base, so I made sure to keep it well defended. Once it was secured, I sent my swarm north to assault the enemy base.


If you've ever heard the term 'Zerg rush', this is the game that originated it. Zerg units are weak, but numerous and can easily overwhelm the enemy with large numbers. That's a bit difficult to pull off in this game, since you can only select 12 units at once. The enemy Protoss force won most of the early conflicts, but thankfully Zerglings and Hydralisks are pretty cheap and expendable.


I decided I needed to use some more underhanded tactics. After evolving the appropriate upgrade, you can morph Hydralisks into Lurkers. These creatures can burrow to hide unseen beneath the ground, and fire out subterranean spikes at all nearby units.


They're vulnerable to detection, but the AI never really caught on to that, and keeping two of them parked next to their base pretty much halted all their advancement.


That allowed me enough time to really build up my forces with some flying units, and take down the enemy base with one big rush. For the Swarm!


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Day 7: The Frozen Throne (Hearthstone)

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is Blizzard's fantastically popular digital card game and probably the closest thing to a Warcraft IV we'll ever see. I previously featured this game's Naxxramas campaign a few years ago, and since then, it's added an expansion with even more ice: Knights of the Frozen Throne. This expansion came with its own solo adventure too.


Deep in the frozen lands of Northrend lies the Icecrown Citadel, and there can be found the Frozen Throne, the Lich King's seat of power. Arthas Menethil was once a noble prince of the Alliance, but after falling to the dark side and having his soul drained by the cursed sword Frostmourne, he became the lord of the dead you see before you.


The Lich King opens up each fight by playing a specific counter card for every class you fight him with. For the ones pictured here: Mage reduces your HP to 1, Shaman's minions all become 1/1, and Warlock is dealt 2 damage for every duplicate in their deck.


Even if you can get past the counters, you've still got a major boss with double your starting health to deal with. Bringing him down is no easy task. In the early game, his hero power will summon a 2/2 ghoul, and he'll follow it up by bringing a lot of minions to the board. He's got a lot of ice cards, plus some unique Death Knight cards that you can only get by playing Arfus or his own card. (If you do, he'll remark on how handsome he is.)


On turn 7, he draws Frostmourne. He won't play any cards during this time, but he's invincible, the weapon has unlimited uses, and he gets an army of trapped souls to do his bidding. Once you take out all the souls, Frostmourne is destroyed and the fight enters the final phase.


His Remorseless Winter hero power deals successively more damage to you with each turn, effectively putting a time limit on your fight, and he brings back all the overpowered cards he had in the first phase. Maintaining board control is difficult, and even if you do, that hero power can still end you.


Despite several tries, I couldn't beat him with any of the classes pictured above. If you can win with all nine, you get pre-corruption Arthas as a Paladin hero for your reward. So far I've only pulled it off with Priest, Rogue, and Druid.


He also has a lot of unique responses if specific cards are played, usually relating to the story in Warcraft III or World of Warcraft. And it seems he has a soft spot for Snowflipper Penguin. Who can blame him? That thing's adorable.


Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 8: Sherbet Land (Mario Kart 8 Deluxe)

Mario Kart 8.8 The Final Chapter Turbo HD ReMix is truly the next generation of Mario Kart. This is a port of Mario Kart 8 from the Wii U, with a few new features and more portability on the Switch. (It also means it's easier to get screenshots from, too.) There's high-powered kart racing, antigravity karts, and more blue shells than you can shake a stick at. Also, shout-out to Umbra, who ran a few races with me on the ice courses.


Sherbet Land originally appeared in Mario Kart: Double Dash!! on the Gamecube, and was remade with better graphics for this version. It's mainly a snowy field lit by an aurora in the sky, plus some ice where you can find skating Shy Guys. Don't crash into them!


The remake added some underwater sections beneath cracks in the ice which weren't in the original, offering more alternate routes. Also, if you look closely, you can see snow building up on my tires.


Mount Wario is an original course and one of the most impressive tracks in the game. Rather than three laps, it's one long path down, split into three sections. You start off by leaping off a helicopter to this snowy road at the summit.


After a few seconds, the snow turns to ice. Despite the racetrack being solid ice, you don't have to worry about traction at all here.


After passing through the first gate, you come to this waterfall cave. There are more ice roads here, plus you can just drop down into the current and go with the flow.


Antigravity gets turned on as you ride across the side of the Wario Dam. Why does Wario have his name on this course? Who knows. Maybe he just likes owning things.


Then you take a quick trip through this forest, and you reach the second gate.


The final stretch is this ski course-like area. Crowds of cheering Toads applaud the racers as they rush down to the finish line at the bottom of the hill.


Ice Ice Outpost was added in MK8's first DLC pack. Thankfully, you get all the DLC for free with the Switch version.


The ice in this one is mainly just a background element, as the racetrack mainly follows the green and yellow lanes which occasionally split into separate tracks. It's quite narrow, so you'll end up crashing into the wall a lot if you're not precise.


That said, there are a few shortcuts for the especially daring where you drive directly across the ice.

Mario Kart 8 has some lovely music too. Sherbet Land is a cheery reproduction of the original from Double Dash. Mount Wario is actually a bunch of 15-second snippets that play according to which part of the course you're on, and Ice Ice Outpost is just nice.


Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 9: Queen Vanessa's Manor (A Hat in Time)

A Hat in Time is a 3D platformer starring some kid with a hat who has to retrieve lost Time Pieces to power her spaceship. It's essentially a genre throwback to the now nearly dead 3D collect-a-thon platformers, with lots of cute style and flavor. Also, as suggested by the title, it has hats. Lots of hats.


Most of Subcon Forest is a spooky forest, but for act 4, you're given a contract that requires you to retrieve an item from the manor of Queen Vanessa, which can be found deep in this icy section.


The path there has you jumping on a lot of temporary platforms which can be revealed by either one of your hats or some bells placed in the area, and blowing up a few ice walls with cherry bombs.


The manor itself sits on a snowy plain across a frozen pond. The door is blocked by heavy snow, and it seems visitors aren't welcome.


Thankfully, there's a way in through the cellar. Once inside, a minion pops up to remind you that there's a clause in the contract that says you can't use your hat abilities while in the house. Well, that shouldn't matter, right...?


Maybe not. The Queen lurks inside as a formless shadow, and you'll need to avoid drawing her ire if you want to escape with your life.


Her victims become ice sculptures she keeps inside the house, and if she catches you, you'll be joining their ranks for sure. You need to keep your distance and stealthily grab the hidden keys to make your way up to the attic.


There, you can find a chest with a Time Piece inside. Mission complete!


Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 10: Sunfire Forest (Spark the Electric Jester)

Spark the Electric Jester is what happens when you stick Sonic and Kirby together in a blender. This game basically mixes up the speed and level designs of Sonic with the multiple ability sets of Kirby. When Spark loses his job to a robot replacement, he decides to go on the offensive against the robot menace. Good thing too, since they were actually planning on taking over the world!


Stage 14 takes Spark to this snowy forest. It's got a rather festive air to it, plus some cheery music. Also here are some generators that wrap Spark in blue fire, making him temporarily invincible. This is a huge help, naturally.


The forest is home to an amusement park called Loho Land Part 2 (Part 1 was in Lightoria Bay, a prior stage). That essentially makes this the equivalent of Sonic's casino stages. There are no slot machines around, but there's lots of bumpers and tubes to knock Spark around and disorient him.


And of course, lots of robots to fight too. This stage is pretty light on abilities, so I had to rely on the attacks of Spark's default form for most of it.


Towards the end, the cheery music fades out and you have to climb a tower and fight a sequence of bosses from prior stages.


At the top you meet this guy... but after you beat him, you find out he's just an illusion. The real leader of the bots is elsewhere, and Spark is sent off to confront him soon afterward.


Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 11: Kamihr Drifts (Final Fantasy XI)

The eleventh installment of Final Fantasy is often forgotten amongst the greater FF fanbase, as it was the first MMORPG in the series. Still, the dedicated fanbase that kept with it found themselves in the gigantic and ever-changing world of Vana'diel. This game's 15 years old by now and has a whole lot of content that you can get lost in for ages.


There have been many expansions to this game, a lot with their own icy areas, and today we're looking at one of the most recently added: Kamihr Drifts, an area from the Seekers of Adoulin expansion. This expansion is themed around pioneers from the Sacred City of Adoulin exploring and colonizing the wild lands of the western continent Ubluka. The first thing as you enter is the frontier station here, which has a waypoint that can teleport you back to town, plus a few helpful NPCs.


Head outside, and you can meet some snow bunnies! There's a saying among XI veterans: "No matter how high level you are, there's always a bunny that can kill you." This proves true here, as these rabbits, like most of the rest of the zone, are extremely high level and can be deadly to the unprepared. Thankfully Carbuncle and I managed to take this one down.


There are also ice blocks that seem to exist purely to annoy you. These things are immobile and will cast the Frost debuff (damage over time, and lowered Agility) to anything in range periodically. They can be destroyed, but you don't get anything for doing so.


Most areas of Ubluka are mainly narrow passageways, this one included. There are lots of snow canyons to get lost in. Monsters around here are mainly of the mammalian variety, including the snow rabbits, giant boars, black tigers, and an orange variant of Vana'diel's giant sheep. The place has a bit of an oppressive atmosphere, not helped by its somber music.


Intrepid pioneers may have to end up dealing with obstacles that block the path. This battle is called a Colonization Reive, and it gets special music. Any number of players can participate, but most of this I ended up doing alone. First, you want to clear out the monsters guarding the wall...


...then take down the wall itself. It's just a wall, so it can't hit back, but it has a lot of HP and you need a specific key item in order to deal damage to it. Once it's broken down, the reive ends and you can pass through.


I ran into more snow bunnies on the way through. Thankfully they weren't too much of a problem. It's easy to get lost around here with all the twisty little corridors.


Several ice caves dot the landscape as well. These aren't marked on the map, but finding them is useful as many have biouvacs which serve as extra waypoints for the teleportation network.


At the far west end of the drifts, you can find the entrance to Ra'Kaznar, the Serpentine Labyrinth. No one knows who built this mysterious place, and it's thought to be the source of a great evil plaguing the continent. Needless to say, it's not really fun to visit.


On the other side, if you have a special key item you can encounter one of the Naakuals, six great beasts that protect the wild lands. This one is an ice lion named Kumhau. The battle against it is called a Wildskeeper Reive, and gets its own music, fittingly called Keepers of the Wild. Like the Colonization Reives, anyone can join, which is good because this monster is quite difficult to solo.  He's got an aura that inflicts Frost and paralysis to anything near him, plus can use a mass dispelling attack and freeze his foes with fear. He's vulnerable to fire, but also has so much HP that it takes literally hours to try and solo him. Unfortunately, no one else decided to show up, so I eventually took him down on my own by continually throwing Ifrits at him for a few hours. I managed to beat it, but that's not something I'll be trying again anytime soon.


Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 12: Frozen Peak (Waveland)

Waveland is a strange abstract platformer that's based around speed and movement techniques, specifically the wavedash from Super Smash Bros. Melee. You're a cube that can air dodge, and you need to use your movement tricks to get through several different areas and recover memory shards.


Area 4 takes you to a frozen peak, proving that even abstract wavedashing games can have ice levels. There are six shards to collect in each area.


One thing introduced here is the classic slippery ice blocks. You have less traction on this floor, but your wavedash lasts until you leave the ice, which is quite handy as you're invincible while dashing and can just speed past obstacles with no trouble.


Apart from that, you also need to avoid the killer sawblades and ice spikes, and make it to the goal in time. If you take too long, the shard disappears. You can still finish the stage to practice, but it doesn't count as a clear.


Some areas have icicles on the ceiling that fall when you approach. These can both help and hinder you as they can serve as platforms over spike pits or destroy certain floors, but if you're under them when they fall, it's gonna hurt. Dashing upward through them lets you avoid damage.


When all six shards are collected, a portal opens to the nightmare realm. Collect the silver gem there, and you can go on to the next area.


Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 13: Snowy Forest (Has-Been Heroes)

The band of epic heroes had completed many quests for their king: saving the kingdom, fighting great monsters, rescuing princesses, and so on. But as the kingdom enjoyed several years of peace, the legends grew old, and stories faded. Then, the old heroes were summoned to court for one last quest: To take the twin princesses to school! So begins the tale of the Has-Been Heroes.


This game is difficult to describe. It's marketed as a "Roguelike Strategy" which is mostly correct, but it's also highly technical, timing-based, and has a lane-based combat system similar to Plants vs. Zombies. Your three has-been heroes must venture across many dangerous and randomly generated lands to escort the princesses to the academy. One of the starting areas is this wintry forest pictured above.


As you walk through the paths, you'll do battle with an army of skeletons in silly hats. The green bars by each represents their stamina and shows how many hits they can block. If you can match up your heroes' attacks with the enemy stamina bar exactly, they become stunned and vulnerable to direct damage. Each battle lasts 2 minutes or until everything is dead.


When not fighting, you can also find treasure chests, shops, and camps among other things at specific crossroads. True to the roguelike genre, you want to make sure you get a good loadout of items and spells to guarantee your survival.


Mastering the game's magic system is also an essential skill. Each element has an associated effect (ice freezes, fire burns, lightning chains, etc.) and almost all of them can combo with each other for spectacular results. Get a good enough string of spells together and you can more or less wipe the whole field out at once. Granted, that's pretty hard to do here since this is only the first area. (There's another ice area, but the RNG wasn't kind enough to let me visit it.)


This brawler-type skeleton is one of the potential end bosses you can find here. It doesn't have any real tricks up its sleeve and is pretty easy to take down once you know the combat system. Once the great monster is slain, its minions die and you can move on to the next area, running through even more mazes.


Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 14: The Ruins of Sescheron (Diablo III)

Diablo is a series known for fighting lots of demons in roguelike-ish procedurally generated levels. I previously mentioned Act III of this game a few years ago, and today we're looking at another area in that region, added in the postgame Adventure Mode introduced by the Reaper of Souls expansion.


The city of Sescheron was once the home of the Barbarians who lived at the base of Mount Arreat. Given that since the events of Diablo II, the Arreat Mountain has become the Arreat Crater, it makes some sense that the city is abandoned now.


Now it's inhabited by legions of monsters, because this is Diablo and you need something to do while you're here. The glacial monstrostities are quite threatening, attacking with icy breath and thrown snowballs. Thankfully they only show up a few at a time.


Also present are the Khazra goatmen. They're often thought of as "goat demons," but are actually a race of beast-men. The Khazra present here belong to the Ice Clan, fittingly, and include axe-wielding warriors, spear throwers, and shamans with fire magic.


And of course, you can find lots and lots of loot. Gold and legendary treasures await the brave adventurers who can venture through the ruins. Occasionally you can find ghosts of the lost Barbarians, or even a few trapped Barbarians who will fight alongside you if you free them.


The first time you come here, you can pick up an artifact called Kanai's Cube. You can bring this back to town, and then use it to combine and manipulate items, or extract unique powers from legendary equipment. This thing is vital to creating a good equip set/build to use, so you'll want to pick it up as soon as you can.


Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 15: Oscar Basin (Even the Ocean)

Even the Ocean is a platformer themed around balance between the light and dark energies that hold the world together. A young technician named Aliph starts off fixing up Whiteforge City's power plants, but soon finds herself at the center of a disaster that threatens to engulf the entire world.


The city of Oscar Basin is home to one of these power plants, and it's currently besieged by an unknown giant creature.


As you approach, you get a nice view of some gentle snowfall and pretty scenery. Someone tries to bar Aliph's path as she approaches, but it's not clear who or why.


The city itself is built into giant trees that extend from the walls of the basin, giving it a very unique appearance. The chairman explains a bit more of the situation to Aliph. Here, keeping a smile on your face is the most important thing! The person responsible for sabotaging Aliph's attempt to get into the power plant turns out to be his daughter Dolores, who isn't pleased with the town or its motto of forced positivity.


She tries to stop Aliph a few more times, but eventually Aliph can make it into the power plant proper. Here is where the main chunk of gameplay is located. This power plant features many slippery ice floors, and puzzles based around switches that make certain blocks appear and disappear. Rather than having a health bar, the bar at the bottom shows balance between energy types, and if it goes too far to either end, Aliph dies.


After repairing the plant, Aliph targets the exhaust vents at the creature, causing it to flee. Oscar Basin is saved, but the threat is far from dealt with.


Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 16: Planet Lalaland (Super Bomberman R)

Bomberman is the classic game of running around mazes and blowing everything in sight up. Super Bomberman R is the newest generation of classic Bomerman gameplay, featuring 8 Bomber siblings who team up to save the galaxy from the evil Lord Buggler and the Five Dastardly Bombers.


Planet Lalaland is the second planet from the sun of the Starry Sky Solar System. Originally a very cold planet, it was terraformed into some sort of planetwide amusement park. When the Bombers visit, the climate control seems to be malfunctioning.


The result kinda gives this place a Wonderland aesthetic. In some stages you need to blow up all the enemies, while in others you just need to survive against infinitely respawning ones. Thankfully, "survive" in this case means "have at least one life when the timer ends".


This planet also has some zero-traction ice floors. These are annoying to deal with in any game, but particularly so in this one since precise bomb placement is a requirement for getting rid of the enemies. You can't drop bombs while slipping on the ice either, making things even more annoying.


After beating all eight stages, you meet Karaoke Bomber, one of the Five Dastardly Bombers. After you beat her in a standard duel, she comes back in this heart-shaped mech. She assaults you with blasts of sound from her speakers/wings, and the floor has still more slippery ice blocks on it.


To defeat her you first have to attack the wings, then drop bombs near her mech when it crashes to the floor. After enough damage, she flees, but she leaves behind a necklace that once belonged to the Bombers' lost sister, Pretty Bomber. Could she be the same bomber-person...? Regardless, the Bombers can move on to the next planet.


Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 17: Motherland (Worms W.M.D.)

Worms is a franchise of turn-based strategy games about, well, worms. Specifically worms that fight wars against each other with all kinds of creative and highly explosive weaponry that devastates the landscape. When the most basic weapon type is a bazooka and the shotgun is considered a sniping weapon, you know you're in for a fun time.


Most games in the series use randomly generated maps with several possible themes to select from, including this one themed around Russian snowscapes. The scenery is pretty, but it's all destructible, and there are usually a lot of craters in the ground by the end of a match. You might also be able to spot some tanks and turrets that can be manned by your worms, which is a new addition for this entry.


The water below the map is a death pit. The worms' lack of limbs means that naturally, they can't swim (though oddly, it doesn't prevent them from using lots of complicated weapons). Knocking an enemy worm into the water is the easiest way to get a kill, but you want to be careful you don't dunk your own worms too since basically every weapon can backfire on you.


Seeing three enemies clustered below me, I decided to give the Dubstep Gun turret a try. I don't know what I expected, really. It sounds as ridiculous as it looks.


Really good shots can get you an instant replay. That's a Banana Bomb exploding in the above shot. It bounces around, and when it detonates it splits into smaller bananas that also detonate on impact. I ended up taking out both an enemy and allied worm with this thing, and reducing another enemy to 1 HP. It was well worth the sacrifice.


By that point, I had basically guaranteed a win, though it took a surprisingly long time to finish off that last worm.