Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 6: A series of randomly generated mountaintops (Fictorum)

Fictorum is a game about ultimate magical destruction. It's a rogue-lite adventure following a renegade wizard, the last of the Fictorum order. This one I bought recently, and it caught my eye because I'm a sucker for anything with customizable spells. While there is some degree of character customization, your wizard is an always male edgelord who smolders with generic rage.


You select a title to start each run with, which affects your starting spells. Naturally, there are several ice-themed ones: The Frost-bound throws long range icicle spears, Eternal Winter has a chilling beam, and the Titanic summons huge icebergs. The pun in that last one is almost certainly intentional.


This world is flooded with a dark miasma, leaving only mountaintops inhabitable. You travel between these on the world map, and what you encounter depends on which way you go. There are several different enemy factions standing in your path. Not every mountain is icy, but it's a pretty common trend.


In combat, you unleash the power of destruction. All buildings are destructible, and will crumble apart after being struck by a spell. Your spells don't deal damage to you, but the rubble from destroyed buildings can.


Runes allow you to add up to three modifiers to each spell. Magic's Reach increases range, Pierce allows the spell to pierce multiple enemies, and Abandon adds rapid fire at the cost of some power.


Throwing around ice spears with wild abandon made this fight rather chaotic. There's an enemy mage in this shot, who is currently putting up a shield.


After clearing an area, the Nexus returns you to the world map. Sometimes it's a good idea to search any intact buildings for loot before leaving.


As you travel across the map, the Fictorum is pursued by the Inquisition. It's best to avoid them when possible, and stay ahead of the advancing wave.


Clairvoyance is an innate ability that allows us to highlight enemies, items, and objectives through walls. This is incredibly useful, but costs mana to maintain, and in a game where magic is your only weapon, mana upkeep is absolutely vital.


Here I replaced the Abandon rune with a Sentinel rune, which summons a tower to fire spells at incoming enemies.


The turrets have much better aim than me, and I could focus on dodging while they rained ice spears on the enemy. Sadly, the Fictorum died soon after, thanks to a confrontation with an enemy arch-mage. Oh well, there's always the option to try again.


Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 7: Frozen Grotto (Cadence of Hyrule)

Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the Necrodancer feat. The Legend of Zelda is a crossover whose long title should be pretty self-evident. Cadence teams up with Link and Zelda to fight to the beat of the music, and save Hyrule from the evil musician Octavo.


To reach him, they need to defeat Octavo's four champions and retrieve the instruments from them. One is found in this frozen grotto below Lake Hylia. However, we can't get in because of the deep water.


Helping the nearby Zora prince has him give you the Zora Flippers, allowing Link and crew to swim in deep water. Now we can reach the grotto.


There are lots of slippery ice floors in here, which you slide on while still moving to the beat.


The dungeons in this game take a bit more from the Necrodancer side than the Zelda side. Each floor is randomly generated when you enter, and you have to move to the beat while enemies swarm around you.


Most will be familiar to Zelda players, including the dreaded Ice Keese. Their AI behaviors are mostly based on Necrodancer enemies. They dance in predictable patterns, enabling those with good timing and perception to beat them down without suffering a hit.


Each floor is concluded by a midboss fight. Here Zelda has to take down a Frost Talus. It can't be hurt by standard attacks, so you have to either wait until it becomes vulnerable or use bombs to blow it up.


After clearing two floors, we obtain the boss key, and can head to the main event.


"Power of water, flow through my oboe with an icy cold!"


You can tell this is a true successor to Necrodancer by its dedication to music puns.


Wizzroboe will teleport around the field and attack by summoning snowflakes and falling icicles. These freeze over the floor, making pursuing it quite difficult.


Oh, and it can freeze you too, plus summon other Wizzrobes. While stuck in an ice cube you can't move, but can't take damage either so sometimes it can be helpful.


Once it's defeated, you obtain the oboe, one of the four instruments needed to reach Octavo's lair.

Oh, and it would be a damn shame if I left out the music for this one. Here's the Frozen Grotto theme, which adds an oboe to the instrumentation as you reach the second floor. The Wizzroboe fight gets its own music, which naturally also features an oboe.


Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 8: Frostlands (Octopath Traveler)

Eight paths, eight travelers. Octopath Traveler is an RPG on Switch that follows the paths of eight people whose fates intersect. While there is an overarching story, generally the plot is focused much more on their individual paths. And when taken together, their names spell out "Octopath".


The continent of Orsterra is divided into eight distinct regions, one of which is the Frostlands.


The cleric Ophilia starts her journey in her home town of Flamesgrace. Here, she embarks on a pilgrimage to bring the sacred flame's light to the other churches.


The path is of course perilous, and she needs many allies to help make her way through.


Each enemy has various weaknesses to different weapon or magic types. By breaking their defenses, they become stunned and more vulnerable to damage. That's when we want to use boost mode for a powerful finisher.


By taking a quick detour through the Woodlands we can head deeper into the Frostlands, stopping by the town of Stillsnow.


The dancer Primrose and hunter H'aanit both have chapters of their stories that bring them here. Each party member has a path action that can be performed on friendly NPCs: Ophilia and Primrose can convince them to join as followers, Cyrus and Alfyn can gather information on them, Tressa and Therion can buy or steal items from them respectively, and Olberic and H'aanit can provoke them into combat, either by challenging them to a duel or siccing a captured monster on them.


This being the kind of place that it is, having some powerful fire magic by our side is very helpful for dealing with random enemies.


The path ends at Northreach, the northernmost city in Orsterra and the place where the thief Therion's story is concluded.

The music for the Frostlands has a very soft, ethereal quality to it, matching the area's general appearance.


Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 9: Glitterglaze Glacier (Yooka-Laylee)

Banjo-Kazooie Yooka-Laylee is a beloved 3D platformer developed by Rareware Playtonic in 1998 2017. It stars a bear and bird chameleon and bat duo as they collect jigsaw pieces pages to progress through the lair of the evil Gruntilda Capital B.


So as you can tell, this game isn't shy about its inspiration. Seriously though, Yooka-Laylee is a successor to the Banjo games, made by former Rare employees after leaving the company. And of course, where would a 3D platformer throwback be without an ice world?


This glacier is pretty big and a nice place to just roam around in.


And you can get a nice view from the higher points too.


After learning the proper technique, Yooka can swallow honey to become sticky, allowing him to climb up slippery ice ramps.


This lets them enter the Icymetric Palace, where they can get a whole new perspective on things. I hope the developers are proud of this pun.


The palace is made up of many small rooms, and it's easy to get lost. Maybe we should go back outside.


Activating Dr. Puzz's transformation ray turns Yooka and Laylee into a snow plough. It's fast and mostly immune to attack, but if you fall into the water you transform back to normal. Oh, and it can clear out piles of packed snow too.


Using this we can retrieve the lost hats of the many snowmen scattered across the glacier. I thought doing this would get me a page, but I think I missed one. Oh well, at least the ones I actually returned the hats to are happy.

The music for Glitterglaze Glacier is very soft, fitting the mood of the place.


Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 10: Floresta Blanca (Spark the Electric Jester 2)

Spark the Electric Jester 2 is the sequel to Spark the Electric Jester, the Sonic-meets-Kirby platformer made by a Sonic fangame developer. With a full 3D perspective in this one, it's effectively the Modern Sonic counterpart to the original's Classic Sonic. Despite the title, it actually doesn't star Spark, but his robotic doppelganger Fark.


Stage 5 brings Fark to this snowy forest. The heavy mist gives it kind of an ethereal quality, helped by its catchy music.


This being a Sonic clone means there are lots of hostile robots around. Combat is actually a bit more involved than Sonic, as Fark has a number of different ability sets, plus a parry that grants a power charge when timed well. Speedruns want to avoid enemies as much as possible, while high score runs have you stopping to fight everything you can.


There are also some lava vents around. These can launch Fark into the air, but are also dangerous to touch directly. Why are they here? Who knows.


As we head further in, we find more manmade-looking structures, plus some pillars covered in ice spikes. These are dangerous, but they can also be blocked by Fark's shield.


Reaching full charge and then releasing it has Fark pull off a super move. This also heals him when used, so it's handy even if nothing is around.


The end of the stage is marked by this wheeled bot miniboss, who resembles one of the bosses from Spark 1. It has a fair amount of health, but it's pretty easy to bring down. Once it's trashed, Fark can go for the goal ring.


Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 11: Rolling Snowballs (Super Mario Maker 2)

Super Mario Maker 2 is the sequel to the make-your-own-Mario-levels sandbox, now available on Switch. It's still essentially the same as the first, but with a whole lot of new tools to make even better Mario levels with. As it so happens, one of the new things added is a proper ice level theme.


A recent update introduced the Ninji Speedruns mode, and it happened to use a snow level as the opening course. This is an official course made by Nintendo, where the goal is to clear it as fast as possible. The other players are represented by Ninjis running past.


The same update added Spikes and Pokeys to the enemy list. Normally Spikes throw quite sharp spikeballs, but in the snow theme they're replaced with snowballs instead. Getting hit by one doesn't hurt but pushes you back a little bit, and you can pick up and throw them to destroy enemies. The snow Pokeys also leave behind more snowballs when defeated.


Unfortunately, I'm not that good a speedrunner, but I gave this a lot of tries.


Here's my final time. I was hoping to get under 30 seconds, but I think I'm satisfied with this.


I've also made some ice levels of my own. Is using your own levels for this cheating? I don't think so. Icicle Crash is a course themed around another new obstacle, the falling icicles. They're easy to avoid if you keep moving. If you own Mario Maker 2 and want to play it yourself, the code is VX9-K99-B1G.


Snowball Arena is a small and simple course where you challenge some Spikes to a snowball fight. All of them need to be defeated to unlock the goal. This one's code is CGH-PQN-TGG.


Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 12: Colter (Red Dead Redemption 2)

Red Dead Redemption is a series of open world games set in the old west at the dawn of the 20th century. This game tells the tale of Arthur Morgan, an outlaw gunslinger in a time where outlaws and gunslingers were starting to fade away, and the wild west became tamed. This is the first Red Dead game I've played, so I might be missing some context.


The opening act has Arthur and his gang taking shelter from a fierce snowstorm in the middle of May. They stop to hide out in the abandoned mining town of Colter in the Grizzly Mountains.


They're being pursued by someone, but it isn't exactly clear who as of yet. For now, they're confident the snow will put a stop to anyone following them, but they need supplies. That's where Arthur comes in.


This game has some really impressive snow physics. You and your horses leave visible tracks, and snow will build up on Arthur's hat and coat if he stays outside long enough.


Arthur and his boss Dutch find a cabin out in the wilderness. Looks like someone's home.


It turns out to be occupied by members of Colm O'Driscoll's rival gang, and things end in a gunfight. They're pretty easy to kill, since this is still just the first mission.


The next day, Arthur goes looking for another gang member who's gone missing. He's alive, but wounded, and some wolves are on his trail.


A few well-placed gunshots solves everything.


After a few more missions, Dutch comes up with a big plan. The O'Driscolls were planning to rob a train, so he decides that the gang should rob it instead. It's well guarded, but not that much of a problem for the boys to take down. With the added funds from that, they can get out of the snow and find their way to warmer climes, ending this chapter of the story.


Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 13: Stranded Ship (Shovel Knight: King of Cards)

Shovel Knight is the lovable NES throwback starring a knight with a shovel that was released back in 2014. Since then, the game has received a lot of updates, adding additional playable knights along with other features. Today we're looking at the newest addition, the King of Cards campaign starring King Knight.


This king of knights (or is he a knight of kings?) has to face many challenges on his quest to become a true king. The Stranded Ship is the domain of Polar Knight, who players of the other Shovel Knight campaigns will recognize. Unlike the other campaigns, here it's split into smaller stages. The first of these is the Slippery Summit.


Look, you just have to use the gaudy armor as King Knight. It's only proper.


King Knight's a pretty good ice skater. The ice is helpful since it lets King Knight perform his pirouette spin without having to shoulder bash something first. However, you can't stop moving while on it.


Later on, we encounter rails that can only be crossed by skating. Time to show off some extreme platforming skills.


Skating well brings us to the goal.


From there we reach the next stage, the Spinwulf Sanctum. These snow piles should be familiar to anyone who played Polar Knight's stage in the original campaign. They fall and cover up the spikes below when you touch them, making them safe to walk on.


These are the Spinwulves. They run pretty fast, but can't jump high. Attacking from above sounds like a good idea, but that's a little tough to do with King Knight since he needs to shoulder bash first.


A little persistence gets us to the goal.


There's a path to a secret exit too. Here we need to stay on the platform while red Spinwulves rain down fireballs from above.


This one took a few tries to complete.


There's our man Polar Knight. Time to go say hello.


Polar Knight is the largest of all the knights, and carries a heavy snow shovel. He challenges King Knight to a duel.


He throws snowballs and plows through them, and if you try to bounce on him, will block with his shovel. The real threat comes at about halfway through the fight, when he starts digging up the ground to reveal spikes underneath.


Still, it's nothing a true king can't handle.

The music for this area is made up of different variations on the same theme. The base is A Cool Reception, plus there's A Wintry Paradise, originally from Specter Knight's mode. Polar Knight's boss fight has The Stalwart, another variation on the same theme.


Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 14: Coerthas (Final Fantasy XIV)

Final Fantasy XIV is the other Final Fantasy MMORPG. It's sort of a sequel to Final Fantasy XI in spirit, though the setting is different. The world of Eorzea is quite gorgeous and expansive, and much like the prior MMO, has a whole lot of content to get lost in. Naturally, a big world like this has an icy place or two to explore.


Today we're looking at the Coerthas region. Snowcloak is an instanced dungeon meant for four players.


Here I am, dressed for the occasion. I also have to give credit to Tatsu Kotodama a.k.a. RexDraco, who decided to accompany me today.


Being a Black Mage means having lots of powerful ice magic to destroy enemies with, naturally. The relationship between elements in this game is kind of weird. Fire spells deal more damage but cost more MP, then ice spells can be used to regenerate MP quickly. In theory you're supposed to switch between the two, but in practice it's more like you want to use fire as much as possible and only cast ice when you're out of MP.


The outdoor areas of Snowcloak have bitter winds that deal ice damage over time, plus some ice elementals to fight. We're a pair of level 80s in a dungeon meant for level 50 characters, so none of this was a real threat to us.


The end boss is Fenrir, a large wolf that will be familiar to people who have played other Final Fantasies.


After completing Snowcloak, the next destination is Akh Afah Ampitheatre, where we can meet the ice goddess Shiva. Normally she's summoned by Summoners, but in this game most of the summons (or primals, as they're called here) act as bosses instead.


Explosions fix everything. Again, this is a fight meant for a party of eight level 50s and we're a pair of level 80s, so not much threat.


When she reaches half health, she uses her signature move Diamond Dust to freeze everyone on the field solid, then shatter the ice with a snap of her finger.


Instanced content isn't the only icy stuff in XIV. After we were finished with the dungeons, I hopped in Rex's car and she took me on a tour of the Coerthas Central Highlands.


There's the Holy See of Ishgard in the distance. It's a large city, but access to it is barred until you reach the Heavensward expansion.


This red ice was created when the moon Dalamud crashed into the earth, causing the Seventh Umbral Calamity. This changed the Coerthas region from a temperate place to the icy wasteland it is now.


And here we found a neat little ice cavern with some plasmoids inside.


Here's the bridge to Ishgard. Rex and I both have permission to enter.


We didn't stay long in the city. It's just a brief stop on the way to the Coerthas Western Highlands.


The arrival point is the small outpost of Falcon's Nest.


Expansion areas allow us to unlock flight for mounts, like this lovely red two-seater chocobo. Again, Rex is doing the driving and I'm just tagging along.


The Ishgardians have been at war with the Dravanian dragon hordes for a very long time. This was likely one of the horde's warriors once.


This tree is probably important, but neither of us could figure out what it was for.


And this is a relic from when this area used to be more temperate. Clearly no one is sailing on this thing now.


This fortress is the Dusk Vigil, a guard post to stand against the Dravanians.


On the way back we passed by this ruined town. The large crystal is a waypoint for the teleport network, but this one fell into disuse and has become frozen solid.

Honestly I feel like I've only scratched the surface of this game, but there's a bit of Coerthas for you. Being a Final Fantasy game means it has some really good music too. Special mention goes to Oblivion, which plays for the second half of the Shiva fight.


Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 15: Mountaintop (Baba Is You)

Month Is 12
Day Is 15
Level Is Ice
Game Has Baba
Baba Is You


Baba Is You is a game about changing the rules. It's mainly a block pushing puzzle game, but many of the blocks you push are text that changes how things interact with each other.


The ice mountain is themed around isolation, and many of the puzzles here make use of the 'lonely' keyword. This applies when an object is not sharing a space with any other objects. In this case if Baba walks over the tree, then Baba is no longer 'you' since it's not 'lonely'. It's almost like learning a programming language.


I'll try not to give any solutions away, which isn't that hard since there are a few of these I haven't managed to solve yet.


Needless to say, it takes a lot of effort to get through this. Many of these puzzles are quite devious.


Lonely Text Is You adds another dimension of weirdness, as you build statements using the one piece of text that you can move at will.


In these cases Baba is not you, unless you manage to connect Baba Is You.


This one's about building bridges between the platforms, since Lonely Baba Is Defeat.


Here's one I haven't figured out yet.


And another. Here walking over the rubble turns it to dust then lava, which is 'defeat'. Apparently the solution is to cross this area without retracing your path.


Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 16: Mornsea (InnerSpace)

InnerSpace is a bizarre little flying game about traversing a series of inside-out worlds. As an autonomous flying machine, you seek out the mysteries of the Inverse and the ancient civilization that once resided within.


This particular corner is an icy waste. The lack of energy here has frozen everything around.

The ancients used a form of energy called Wind to power their devices. Picking up Wind orbs allows for more things to be unlocked, both for your craft and the world around you.


Here I have enough Wind to power this hologram generator, but I can't exactly tell what it's showing me.


The nature of this game's environments makes it really easy to get lost. Thankfully they're fun to just wander around in. Normally it's possible to dive underwater and search for things there too, but that's not applicable here as all the water is frozen solid.


Many of the ancient structures have ice crystals built up on them.


You can shatter these by flying through them, which looks quite cool.


I've already picked up all the relics that can be found here, so today was more about just enjoying the scenery than anything else.


Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 17: Phendrana Drifts (Metroid Prime)

Metroid Prime is the Metroid series' big leap from 2D to 3D, translating the exploration-based gameplay of Metroid into the framework of a first-person shooter. Everyone's favorite interplanetary bounty hunter Samus Aran lands on the alien planet Tallon IV, and explores its secrets.


Crossing the Magmoor Caverns brings Samus to this snowy area.


It has a soft, peaceful air to it, which is helped a lot by its music.


But of course, this wouldn't be a Metroid game if it weren't swarming with hostile lifeforms. The Crystallites' hard shell repels beam fire, forcing Samus to use her Missiles to kill them. And yes, they look like Bergmites. Or one could say Bergmites look like Crystallites, as these came first.


You know you're in a dangerous place when even the infant predators are a threat to Samus. These things repel attacks directed at their front, but are vulnerable from behind.


Samus spots a familiar shadow flying across the snow. It seems her old enemies are up to something.


Further investigation leads to some ruins built by the Chozo, the bird people who adopted Samus and constructed her armor.


Shortly after, Samus encounters an adult Sheegoth. Its weakness is different from the baby version. The large crystals on its back absorb energy weapons, forcing Samus to use her missiles and bombs to kill it.


Defeating it rewards Samus with a new weapon. Rather than the Ice Beam, it's the Wave Beam. The electric pulses it shoots home toward enemies slightly, and are quite powerful against mechanical or energy-based enemies.


Heading further in, Samus finds a hidden research outpost belonging to her old foes, the Space Pirates.


She finds the Thermal Visor upgrade here, allowing her to see heat signatures. This is quite handy for when the lights go out, and can also be used to detect stealthed Pirates.


The boss of the area is Thardus, a creature made from living stone. It was originally developed by the Pirates as a bioweapon, but had to be placed into quarantine due to its erratic behavior.


To defeat it, Samus needs to use the Thermal Visor to find its hidden weak points, then destroy each vulnerable rock in succession. After she does, that's the end of this area for now. Later in the game, she can return after picking up the heat-based Plasma Beam to melt the ice and find lots of hidden treasures.


Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 18: Temple Mine (CrossCode)

CrossCode is a 16-bit action/RPG set in an MMORPG. A player named Lea has found herself stuck in the world of CrossWorlds without her memory, and plays through the game in the hopes of finding herself. I've always wanted to visit this one again, since the last time I featured it here I didn't really do it justice. It's also left early access since then.


Picking up from where we left off, after going through Bergen Trail (with a little bit of a stop for grinding), Lea and Emilie arrive in Bergen Village. From there they head to their next destination, the Temple Mine. It's the game's first dungeon. Dungeons are instanced for each player, so Lea and Emilie decide to race each other and see who can get through it first.


As the name may suggest, this was once a mine before a temple was discovered here. Now it's part of the Track of the Ancients, a path that player avatars must walk, and no more mining is done in this place.


This little orb is a bomb that activates once Lea attacks it. It can be moved a little, then will explode on a timer.


Like so. Using these well is key to many of the puzzles here.


Lea's projectiles ricochet off walls when charged. This is also a major puzzle element, and a lot of things in this game rely on trick shots.


Sometimes you need to shoot a switch to alter the path of a moving platform over a bottomless pit.


Many of the robots left here by the miners have now become incorporated into the temple's defenses, and provide a challenge to players.


These little orbs add heat to projectiles that pass through them, allowing them to melt ice.


Naturally, they're used for more trick shots.


Ice bugs are pretty common here. They're dangerous in large numbers, but extremely vulnerable to heat, so they're not that much of a threat.


And here's another classic puzzle type, block puzzles on an icy floor that makes the blocks slide until they hit something.


Halfway through we meet a robot midboss. It gathers a swarm of ice bugs and absorbs them into itself to add cold to its attacks and scatter icicles across the floor. To make it vulnerable we need to hit it with heat and drive the bugs out.


You got the Heat Element! This adds fire to all of Lea's attacks and means she doesn't have to rely on those orbs anymore.


It also grants her some hot new combat arts. Using it for too long will overload her, forcing her back into normal mode for a short period.


Hitting a bomb with heat sends it flying across the floor and causes it to explode on impact. Sometimes you need to move one into position with a normal shot, then shoot it with a heat shot before it explodes.


Emilie really doesn't like bugs. Despite her fear, she's not giving up the race.


The last puzzle of the dungeon is another trick shot sequence, where you have to hit all of these panels in sequence with a single ball.


Then you have to fight a swarm of ice beetles to claim the boss key.


The dungeon's boss is a large mining robot. Its weak point is protected by a metal shield, which can be destroyed by turning the bombs it throws back against it. Its arms use both fire and ice attacks.


Defeating it brings Lea to the dungeon's end. She's quite pleased she managed to finish before Emilie did.


She encounters a statue of one of the ancient gods, who guides her to her next path along the Track of the Ancients.

Oh, and here's the music. It has kind of a foreboding feel to it.


Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 19: Poochy & Nippy (Yoshi's Story)

Yoshi's Story is the N64 semi-sequel to Yoshi's Island, now with 100% less annoying baby Marios. Baby Bowser has stolen the Yoshis' Super Happy Tree, and they're on a journey to take it back and become happier. This game also shows that Yoshi's been doing crafted art styles for a long time.


There are four possible levels to pick from as the Yoshis reach page 3 of their journey. The first two are not snowy and I won't be bothering with them. Let's look at the third one, Poochy & Nippy.


For a 21 year old game, this still looks pretty good.


There are lots of seesaw platforms over pits in this area. These things tilt as Yoshi steps on their edge, but they're not a huge problem.


Also present are some snowball-tossing Shy Guys in the background. Poor Yoshi can't do anything but avoid their snowballs.


This level is named for Poochy the dog, who shows up later on. He helps to guide Yoshi through a series of small rooms connected by warp pots.


To clear the level, we have to eat 30 fruits and complete the border frame.


This is the halfway point of the story, and it's marked with a boss fight. Cloudjin here has fiery breath and can drop spiked balls onto the platforms. A few eggs thrown at him will banish him and allow the Yoshis to move on.


On to the next page.


There's also the fourth level of this page, simply named Frustration. The big hallmark of this one is these wheel-like structures, which you can roll forward by walking along the floor.


I wanted to do this one with the special black Yoshi, but he was knocked off the first wheel into a bottomless pit. Just goes to show this level is well named.


There are also these giant worms that block the path. They're not too hard to avoid, but they are annoying.


The boss of this one is Don Bongo, a large blubbery creature.


To defeat him, Yoshi needs to swallow the pots and pans that fall from the ceiling, then chuck eggs at his swollen lips. Do so, and the Yoshis become happier.

The soundtrack of this game is made up of many different variations on the same theme. Here's Alpina Blue, the song used for the snow levels.


Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 20: Iwasaki Antimon (Anodyne 2: Return to Dust)

Anodyne is a 2D top-down adventure with a very surreal, dreamlike atmosphere. The sequel isn't directly related, but is very thematically similar, though it also adds some 3D exploration. This game stars the Nano Cleaner Nova, who shrinks inside people to clean them of the harmful Nano Dust.


Iwasaki Antimon is president of a tree crafting fan club. He's refined his art and sent many letters to the Tree Master, but never received a response. He reasons this must be because of the Nano Dust inside him, and asks Nova to clean him.


Nova's not sure if this is truly necessary, but it's good to clean up any Dust that might be within him.


Nanoscale uses a 2D interface similar to the original Anodyne.


Only those who have refined the art of tree creation can make it across the snowfield to the Tree Master's temple, but many of the disciples here are too cold to perform any work.


There are also some nano viruses present, which Nova can attack using her vacuum. The snowman slime will throw snowballs after being sucked up, while the spiky thing requires that Nova remove the four ice blocks spinning around it first.


After completing a few challenges Nova can head for the temple.


This is where the A and S rank tree sculptors hang out, as opposed to the B and C ones who are left in the snow. They look up to Iwasaki as an inspiration.


A brief step outside brings us to what appears to be the Tree Master's home, but it seems he doesn't want to be disturbed. Shrinking into the mailbox returns Nova to Iwasaki.


Sucking up the large dust crystal purifies Iwasaki. He realizes that he's advanced far enough in the craft to become a Tree Master of his own, and he doesn't need the Master's approval when he has his own adoring fans.


Nova converts the dust crystal into a card of Iwasaki, completing her mission.

The music for this area is two tracks: Self-Actualization Snowfield and Levitating Aurora Temple. Both titles are pretty self-explanatory.


Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 21: Frozen Paw (Cat Quest)

Cat Quest is a simple game. You are a cat. You are on a quest. Once dragons roamed the lands of Felingard, and only cats known as the Dragonblood could defeat them. As one of the last Dragonblood cats, you embark on a quest filled with lots of cats. And cat puns.


Far to the north of the main continent lies the Frozen Paw. You need to visit here at some point for the main quest, but I forget for what exactly. What can I say, it's been a long time since I've played this.


A little bit of exploring around the island brought me to this level 90 dungeon. I'm a level 52 cat, so this is probably going to destroy me.


Inside I met some ice dragons. They hit really hard and can also cast the Freezepaw spell, which slows enemies down. Thankfully, I have access to this too.


Yeah, that's about what I expected. Good thing cats have nine lives.


Let's try this again, with a more reasonable dungeon this time.


The enemies here are more manageable, but that big dragon looks like trouble.


Mana regenerates by landing physical hits on enemies, so occasionally you have to get in close. Enemy attacks are telegraphed, so avoiding those little arrows is important.


And I managed to pick up a treasure here. It doesn't look that useful, but it's still neat.


But unfortunately, the big dragon was too much to bear. I think that's enough for today.


Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 22: Whisper (Distance)

Distance is a game that's hard to place. It's a driving game where you play a futuristic (probably) self-driving car and blitz through a number of different tracks. Despite that, I can't really call it a racing game, as you don't really race against anything. Instead the focus is on surviving the many obstacles placed on the track. I guess you could call it a racing game with a platformer's design philosophy?


Whisper is a snowy course made for the game's Sprint mode. This track was originally made by Jay2a, adapted into the official Sprint track list. This is just a run down a single track where the goal is to finish as fast as possible.


There's a gentle snowfall as you speed through. The track is rather narrow, has no walls, and occasionally twists to the side. The main thing to do is avoid falling off. I'm also racing some ghosts of other players.


Activating jet boosters gives extra speed, but slowly causes your vehicle to overheat. Checkpoints and cooling rings help cool it down, and so can performing tricks in some cases.


This car also comes with jump and flight abilities. Much like with the boost, using flight too much overheats the car, so you need to fly through the cooling rings to avoid having it deactivate and send you falling into the void. It's also quite handy for returning to the track should you fall off.


This is one of the easier Sprint tracks, and all it takes to finish is good focus and staying on the road.


My final time is 02:26.25. Not bad, and it earned me a silver medal. I beat the ghosts too, and it's a major improvement over the last time I played this level.


Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 23: Arctic Bay (Wave Race: Blue Storm)

Wave Race is a jetski racing series made by Nintendo, originally released on the N64. Blue Storm is the Gamecube sequel to Wave Race 64. It was one of the first releases for the Gamecube, and I feel like it mainly exists to show off the Gamecube's water physics.


So what's an ice level doing in a game about a summer sport? Search me. I think the reason I remember this one so well is because it requires so much suspension of disbelief in what is otherwise a pretty realistic racer.


Most of the course circles around a huge ice formation, and there are a few background details like a ship full of spectators, plus some polar bears hanging around on the ice.


Don't try this at home, kids. By all rights these racers should already be dead from hypothermia.


To proceed you need to pass each buoy on the correct side. The arrows above help to showcase this. Hit 5 in a row, and you get a turbo boost.


This is the last race of the Normal circuit. It appears in the higher difficulty circuits as well, but with a different path through each time. Courses can also be affected by the current weather. Rainy weather translates to snow here, naturally, and makes the waves get higher.


Finishing the race shows off a replay with some cool camera angles. I got first place in this race, and second for the whole circuit.


Free Roam mode lets you freely explore each course without having to worry about passing buoys or other racers. It's good for finding secrets, like this ice cavern full of penguins. Wait... penguins in the arctic? What sort of parallel universe does this game take place in?


Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 24: Core (Celeste)

Celeste is the lovable and incredibly difficult platformer about climbing a mountain of self-reflection. When I went through the entire main story last year, I mentioned that there's also a postgame chapter, which is what we're looking at today.


Fittingly, it takes place about a year after the story.


Madeline is back to investigate more, and the old woman has pointed something of interest out to her.


The rules for dashing work differently in this chapter. We still have the double dash from chapter 6, but landing on the ground doesn't recharge it anymore. We need to use the crystals to get dashes back. Because of this, dashes have to be used very sparingly here.


To proceed further, we need 4 crystal hearts. Blue hearts can be found hidden in each chapter, while red ones are awarded for completing the B-side chapters. Thankfully, the first four blue ones aren't hard to grab once you know where they are.


It's getting hot inside. These deadly fireballs fly around in simple patterns. Some move up and down, some left and right, and some in circles.


The gem platforms will crumble when touched, but will also launch you in the direction opposite whatever side you touched them on. There are also moving walls that will send Madeline upward.


Heart symbols appear a lot in this level, like on this convenient switch.


That's cooled things down a bit.


The fireballs are replaced with ice balls which are still pretty dangerous, but can be jumped on safely from the top. The collapsing platforms now just collapse without launching you, and the moving walls become frozen walls that can't be climbed.


Oddly, there are only five strawberries in this level.


More switches appear, allowing us to shift between fire mode and ice mode as needed. These bumper-like things from chapter 6 are back, but in fire mode they become deadly spikes.


Putting all this together is quite the ordeal.


And now the lava's rising. Time to get to higher ground.


In ice mode it's replaced with rising ice that works the same way.


This requires some really good timing, and we still have to conserve dashes.


This sequence ends with another lift from Goth Madeline, who brings herself to a chamber with lava above and below.


In fire mode the lava rises, while in ice mode the ice descends from above. To get through this area we need to be sure to switch before the advancing death barrier overtakes us.


The feather pickups reappear, and it takes some good flying skills to get through in time.


These blocks turn on and off to the beat, and appear in areas where the B-side chapters are unlocked.


For this chapter it's required to pick up the B-side tape to complete it.


And then we move to the center.


Falling here just has Madeline wrap around the screen. Keep going and we eventually reach...


The heart of the mountain.



And here's my death count for completeness' sake. It's pretty mean, but not quite as bad as the summit. The music for this level is also called Heart of the Mountain. There's also a DLC post-postgame chapter, but it's even more difficult and I'm not sure I want to go there anytime soon.


Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 25: Cool, Cool Mountain (Super Mario 64)

It's-a me, Mario! This is my fifth year of doing this, and it's weird to me that in all that time I've never actually covered Super Mario 64 in a post.  Mario 64 is the classic that laid down the groundwork for the 3D platformer genre, and is still considered one of the all-time greats.


Peach's castle has been taken over by Bowser and his minions, and the key to rescuing it is collecting all the Power Stars. Each course hidden in the castle paintings and walls holds several of them. This one right here is Course 4: Cool, Cool, Mountain. Each main course is broken up into 6 missions, one for each star. The first is "Slip Slidin' Away".


So here we are. It's cool. It's cool. It's a mountain. Mario starts near the summit, and there's a welcoming cabin that can be entered through the chimney.


Inside is an icy slide that Mario can slide down. It's too slippery to walk on, and there are no walls, so the key to getting through is to make sure you stay in place as Mario zooms down.


Opening the exit door at the bottom reveals the star.


"Lil' Penguin Lost" has Mario searching for a lost baby penguin. She can be found near the starting point, but you have to carry her all the way down to her mother at the mountain's base.


Much like the indoor area, there are a lot of slippery surfaces here. There are also some jumping snowmen who obstruct this bridge. Getting past them requires walking under them as they jump, which is kind of annoying while carrying the penguin. Oh, and the penguin doesn't stop crying as long as you hold her.


Getting her back to her mother grants Mario a star.


"Big Penguin Race" takes place inside the ice slide area again. It's the same course, but now Mario has to race a penguin to the bottom.


There's actually a hidden shortcut behind a fake wall, but if you use it to complete the race the penguin just calls you a cheater. You need to slide down the full track to be awarded the star.


"Frosty Slide for 8 Red Coins" has eight red coins scattered around the outside area, which make a star appear after all are collected. Every course has an 8-red-coins star, and they all work more or less the same way.


For "Snowman's Lost His Head", Mario needs to guide this snowball down to the disembodied snowman head below. It's pretty fast and can hurt Mario if it touches him, so this is a bit difficult.


Once they're together, Mario gets his reward.


The last star is "Wall Kicks Will Work". This one requires Mario to reach a hidden area on the mountain's underside by being launched out of a cannon. The key to climbing this platforming section is Mario's super wall jump, naturally.


And there it is.

There's a second snow level, but it's much further in the game so I think this will do for now. The music is pretty cheery, and sounds similar to the Slide theme used for the indoor section.


Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 26: Slide Slide (MagiCat)

MagiCat is a cutesy, simple platformer about a cat who can do magic. That's really all there is to say about it, honestly. It has a whole lot of different levels, with several icy ones among them.


Our journey begins at level 3-6, Slide Slide.


Here our lovely cat can encounter some icy slime enemies, plus shiny ice blocks. The blocks can be broken with a dash, but that costs mana to use, and that's a limited resource.


Each level has two horizontal sections with one vertical section in between, and each of these has a hidden gem that can be found.


If you die you can revive on the spot, but it costs exponentially more each time so you don't want to die that many times in a row.  There are checkpoints too, but they cost mana to activate.


Each stage is concluded by a boss fight against a larger version of a standard enemy. This slime just hangs out on the ceiling, forcing our cat to attack with projectiles. The real threat is the slime on top, which occasionally hits a button to make the platforms disappear and send us flying into the spikes.


Following up from that is stage 3-7, Dripping Ice. This one is themed around the classic obstacle of icicles on the ceiling that will fall as you walk under.


4-1 is Sticky Snow. This one has deep snow that can't be walked in at all. The only way to move is by jumping, making this rather annoying to cross.


4-2, Cold Boom Boom, has cannons that will launch our poor cat in whatever direction they please. To get through we need to time our shots right and adjust the cannons as needed.


4-3 is Winter Aurora. This one is themed around these blocky enemies that shoot ice bullets. They're dangerous, but can be jumped on to reach new heights or cross gaps.


Finally there's 4-9, Melting Breath. This one features the ability to summon temporary ice cubes to use as platforms.


As it's at the end of world 4, this one's boss fight is special, pitting our MagiCat against a MagiPig. It will slam the floor and walls to make icicles fall from above, and requires much more effort to take down than the other bosses.


Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 27: Frozen Cliffs (Nihilumbra)

You are Born. You were created by the Void, but you managed to escape from it, and now seek your own existence. This is the story of Nihilumbra, a puzzle-platformer that as its name suggests, is themed around darkness and nihilism.


This is a rare case of the ice world being the first world of the game. You have managed to flee from the Void and land here, on this icy mountain.


You are accompanied by ominous narration that reflects your thoughts, and often reminds you that you are nothing.


The powers in this game are themed around colors. Here, you gain the color blue, which can be used to make surfaces icy. You move faster on ice but have worse traction. You can also use it to make other objects slip around.


Naturally, this is a component to solving many puzzles around here.


The snowfall is getting heavier, and you take shelter inside a nearby cave.


There, you find creatures created by the Void, still seeking to return you to itself.


And now things get more ominous.


The level ends with an auto scrolling segment where the Void chases you, destroying everything in its path.


You manage to escape, but the frozen cliffs are consumed by the Void. The only choice is to move onward, fleeing from the Void and experiencing more of this world.


Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 28: Dungeon of the Firebird's Finery (Diablo III)

Yes, I'm making a post about Diablo III again. What can I say, I've been playing this a lot, particularly the Switch version. A big component of the postgame is item sets, each of which provides substantial benefits to specific builds or playstyles. Each set has a corresponding set dungeon made to test its capabilities.


Here's the item set in question. The Firebird set has seven pieces: The Firebird's Plume (head), Breast (chest), Down (legs), Pinions (shoulders), Talons (hands), Tarsi (feet), and Eye (off-hand). Actually you only need 6 pieces to get the full benefit and I'm using another orb I transmogrified to look like the Eye, but eh, details. As the name suggests, it's themed around fire magic. Hitting enemies with at least 3 different fire spells will cause them to ignite and take heavy damage over time, and your damage is boosted for each burning enemy. It also will call a Meteor to crash and revive you should you die.


Consulting the Tome of Set Dungeons while wearing this set gives a clue referring to "the burning desert that hides the forbidden archives". This is the Desolate Sands area in the desert region, where the portal can be found. If you are wearing the set, you are cleared to enter.


The dungeon itself is an ice cave, showing that it does qualify for this month after all. The test is to see if your fire is hot enough to melt their ice. There's a time limit of 5 minutes, and you have two objectives to complete: Ignite or kill 20 enemies at once, and hit 50 with the Meteor that revives you, plus kill everything in the dungeon.


Enemies here include the glacial monstrosities and ice porcupines found in the ruins of Sescheron, plus a big group of Amputator crabs. The latter are mainly good as targets for that first objective.


Disintegrate and Energy Twister normally deal arcane damage, but I've added some rune modifiers to make them fire-based instead. I also have a little fireball-throwing familiar, plus a flame enchantment on my weapon. All together it's more than enough to incinerate these fools.


Guardians of Finery are the dungeon's elite mobs. They have the Frozen trait, allowing them to set ice mines that explode and freeze you after a short period. The Firebird set includes a staggeringly high x20 bonus for burning an elite enemy, so they're not much threat either.


This is one of the easiest set dungeons, but it does have the odd requirement of having to die around large crowds. The Meteor that revives you can only be used once per minute, so you have to time it well.


Unfortunately, I only hit 45 enemies with it, and couldn't achieve full completion. There's an achievement for each set dungeon, and if you complete all of them for a class you get a fancy pennant you can wear. It's also part of the objectives in Seasonal play.


Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 29: Frappe Snowland (Mario Kart 64)

Mario Kart 64 is another of the all-time classic N64 games starring Mario. It isn't the first Mario Kart, but it still laid down the groundwork for a lot of later Mario Kart games, plus plenty of other kart racers.


Frappe Snowland is the second course of the Flower Cup.


It's basically just a big flat snowfield. There are a few big snow sculptures decorating the background.


The little snowmen are bombs that will send your kart flying if you touch them. Getting through this section in particular feels like navigating a minefield.


Then there's a sprint through a trench in the deep snow.


Overall it's one of the simpler courses in the game, and so long as you don't veer off track into the deep snow you'll be fine.


I got kind of a slow start (racing while taking screenshots is hard, okay) but still managed to come in first.


There's a second cold course: Sherbet Land, in the Star Cup. No relation to Sherbet Land from Mario Kart Double Dash, or the one from Wario Land.


This one is themed around ice instead of snow. A bunch of those penguins from Mario 64 also show up, just waiting for an unsuspecting racer to crash into them.


The track is a circuit around a freezing lake, with a small detour through a cavern. There are penguins all around inside there too.


Needless to say, falling into the water is a really bad idea.


This was another case where I had a rough start, but managed to pull through.

Both courses have the same music, which is a soft and cheery theme.


Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 30: White Land (F-Zero)

F-Zero is Nintendo's other big racing game franchise. Well, to be honest, it hasn't had a game since the Gamecube and the only reason it remains well-known is because of all the memes surrounding its main character, but that's not important right now. The first F-Zero on SNES didn't even show the characters at all, just the cars.


Time to start your engines as we head down the White Land I track. There's apparently at least one other, but I couldn't reach it.


This is just a practice race with Captain Falcon's Blue Falcon vs. Samurai Goroh's Fire Stingray.


Fittingly, there's ice on the course that has lower traction, plus deep snow that will slow you down. I'm honestly not sure how either of these concepts apply to a hovercraft, but there it is.


Navigating this section is especially tricky, since the only way to avoid the snow is to use the conveniently placed jump pads.


It's 5 laps per race, and you need to keep an eye on your machine's health, which will drain if you hit the walls or other cars. If it runs out, your car explodes and you immediately lose the race.


Not that it matters that much, since I lost anyway. F-Zero is pretty hard.


I think I got a decent time though. Or at least I hope I did.

The music for White Land is pretty cool. Smash players might recognize it, since it got a remix in Smash Bros. Brawl.