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Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 12: Mirror Temple (Celeste)

After the gondola incident, Madeline and Theo move forward. The next step in their journey takes them to an ancient temple.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DuPwimXUUAAkswp.jpg

Who built this thing? It's a complete mystery. Maybe it was just formed by the mountain itself.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DuPwimUUUAAKVAm.jpg

Theo's pretty interested, but Madeline is more hesitant. He runs straight in, and she has to play catch up. Things go sour pretty quickly when Madeline finds Theo's phone abandoned in front of a mirror.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DuPwimTU0AA7GDC.jpg

These platforms will move along the designated lines when you dash, and slowly return to their place afterward. They can be both friend and foe, and figuring out exactly when to use your dash is key to completing a lot of challenges in here.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DuPwimRU0AAhpCa.jpg

The other new thing here are these red bubbles. They're similar to the green bubbles from the prior chapter, except they keep going in one direction until they hit a wall. You can dash out of one and often need to in order to avoid getting hit by the spikes.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DuPw9A9V4AAl9GI.jpg

A few rooms in, Madeline finds Theo. He's somehow gotten himself trapped in the mirror world or something, and it looks like Madeline is going to need to find her own way there in order to rescue him. After collecting some keys, she can uncover a big mirror that allows her to do just that.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DuPw9BkVYAA1NTX.jpg

Madeline never was good with mirrors. After this portal opens, there's a brief segment where you have to control an eye thing and move it toward Madeline. It can break certain blocks, but can't move past blocks that look like waterfalls of light, and when it touches Madeline it kills her. Then we take control of Madeline again and head into the mirror world proper.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DuPw9BGU0AAjmlf.jpg

Oh, look who's back. She says that everything messed up in this temple is there because of Madeline herself.

Madeline: Why are you doing this to me?

Goth Madeline: Because you deserve it.

Okay, I'll be frank. As someone who's dealt with self-loathing before, this sequence really resonated with me.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DuPw9BIVYAApBPB.jpg

Now a lot of the temple is covered in creepy tentacles that aren't safe to touch, making things much harder.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DuPxM8uVsAAVJYZ.jpg

Oh yeah, and the eye things show up too. They charge at Madeline when they see her, and can be stunned for about a second by jumping on them. They're mainly a threat, but sometimes you have to use them to break blocks in your path or hit switches.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DuPxM8QU8AA0IoP.jpg

Madeline seems to be on the verge of a breakdown, but she manages to hold together. Just breathe. Remember the feather. You can do this.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DuPxM8qU0AADXLy.jpg

Eventually, she finds Theo again. He's trapped in a crystal and has all these eyes staring at him. This is thought to be a manifestation of his own anxieties. Madeline now needs to go around and free Theo from that pillar he's trapped in. And just who is Alex? Theo doesn't bother to explain right now, as he really wants out of here first.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DuPxM8yUwAEk5kU.jpg

He broke free! Well, sort of. Now Madeline has to carry him through the rest of the stage. You can't dash while carrying him, so your movement options are pretty limited. On the other hand, he can hit switches for you and can't be hurt by the eye things.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DuPxVsVU4AAsywt.jpg

You finish off by throwing the crystal at this big eye, shattering both and allowing Madeline and Theo escape from the nightmare realm.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DuPxVsrU4AAGL_F.jpg

What an ordeal.

This chapter starts out with Quiet and Falling, then transitions to In the Mirror when you enter the mirror realm. Both are pretty unsettling.

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Day 13: Reflection (Celeste)

After the whole business with the temple, Madeline and Theo both need a break. They decide to camp out on a nearby ridge.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DuVQueXUcAAhnbb.jpg

A long conversation ensues, in which they both talk about their personal lives, issues they're dealing with, and their reasons for coming to the mountain.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DuVQueUVsAYPinH.jpg

We learn that Alex is Theo's sister, and Madeline reminds him of her. They're both all-or-nothing and too stubborn to quit.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DuVQueZU8AALsQJ.jpg

We also get another selfie, as Madeline wants to remember this night. They both fall asleep, and Madeline wakes up a bit later.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DuVQuehU8AA81RE.jpg

This brief ascension sequence introduces us to the feather pickup, which when grabbed allows you to fly for a few seconds. It's handy but takes good maneuvering skills to use well.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DuVRF9XVAAAowzV.jpg

Madeline goes to confront her alternate self. She realizes that Goth Madeline has been responsible for all of the troubles she's been through, and in order to get any further, she needs to be rid of her forever.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DuVRF9VV4AAkPtf.jpg

It doesn't take. Madeline tries to focus on the feather, but her reflection just slices it in half.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DuVRF9XV4AA2Rrq.jpg

And then... she fell.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DuVRF91U0AApNnI.jpg

She fell quite far.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DuVRX0qUcAADL2E.jpg

Thankfully she landed in water, so there are no injuries to worry about. Now she has to climb back up through these crystal caverns. This also introduces a new type of block, seen on the right. If you dash into one of these it'll grumble at you and then dash in the opposite direction. You can ride on them or use them to break obstacles.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DuVRX0TUUAA7g23.jpg

Madeline is in despair. She's fallen and now it seems her climb is finished. There's no way she can get all the way back up there, and she thinks she should just give up. Uniquely, there are no strawberries in this level; this is thought to be related to her failing resolve.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DuVRX0jUwAACJuW.jpg

A little further in you can find these things that look like pinball bumpers. They bump Madeline around and will recharge her dash when doing so. They're helpful, sort of, if you can figure out the proper angle to bounce at.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DuVRX0oUYAAEUIw.jpg

Madeline meets the crazy old woman again. The old lady thought Madeline would have made it to the summit, because she'd "never seen someone so angry at themself before." She also mentions that Madeline's reflection is scared, which causes Madeline to realize she never thought of it that way. She offers Madeline a walk back to her car, but Madeline refuses. She knows she can't leave yet. She can't run away from herself any longer.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DuVRpkVUUAAPp9s.jpg

Goth Madeline is still frightened, leading to one final confrontation.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DuVRpkZVAAEB6nV.jpg

This segment is actually quite long. Goth Madeline fires bullets and lasers at you, and flees when touched. She can also manipulate some of the platforms in the area. It takes a keen eye to dodge all this, but it can be done, and after a whole lot of rooms of this, she finally calms down.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DuVRpkUVsAEQWMb.jpg

The two Madelines come together, both realizing that they're really after the same thing.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DuVRpkZVAAI9Oxb.jpg

Level up! Now you can dash twice before landing. The first dash turns Madeline's hair back to her usual red, while the second turns it blue. After a few rooms of testing out her new powers, Madeline meets the old lady and Theo again.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DuVRyNmVYAAdIgP.jpg

This is where I got the "Goth Madeline" nickname from. It's canon! Madeline realizes that with her reflection's help, she can make it to the summit after all. Goth Madeline is nervous, but agrees. With both of them united, nothing the mountain throws at them can stop them.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DuVRyN_UYAADB7H.jpg

The music for this level is three tracks: Starjump, Reflection, and Confronting Myself. It should be pretty clear which corresponds to which section.

153 (edited by Mezzopiano 2018-12-15 04:49:20)

Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 14: The Summit (Celeste)

This is the moment. Everything else Madeline has done has been in preparation for this. Today, she and her reflection make for the summit. This is it, Madeline. Just breathe. You can do this.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Dubf_cAVYAAQPrk.jpg

Honestly, I've been dreading a return to this chapter ever since I started this. Chapter 7 is easily the longest and most difficult in the game, and it has the most strawberries too.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Dubf_b-UUAAVXFj.jpg

Madeline isn't going to give up here though, and neither am I. Let's do this.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Dubf_ciVsAA3mKl.jpg

This chapter is basically the final exam over everything you've learned in the game, and the difficulty gets amped up a lot. You have to make really good use of that double dash earned in the previous chapter.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Dubf_cVUYAAES8-.jpg

Speaking of previous chapters, you have to visit all the environments you've been to as you make your way on the climb. The abandoned city is the first stop after the starting section, and you have to deal with those on-rail platofrms again. Between sections you get a lift from Goth Madeline. You need to jump into the little orbs she places, and then she'll catapult you upward.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DubgTrcU0AEMvMq.jpg

Next it's off to the old ruins. The astral blocks make their return, and the double dash gives you new ways to interact with them.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DubgTr4VAAEX2cU.jpg

You don't have to run from Mr. Oshiro again when you revisit the creepy hotel, but you do have to deal with all of those blobs.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DubgTr7V4AI_h20.jpg

The bubbles, clouds, and high winds from Golden Ridge make their return after you get through the hotel. You end up having to escort some moving platforms too.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DubgTr9UwAErwOn.jpg

And for the last of these segments, you have to deal with the red bubbles and dash-linked platforms from the Mirror Temple. Thankfully it only pulls stuff from before you enter the nightmare mirror world.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DubgjYgUwAA9eLM.jpg

Once Madeline crosses all of those again, she comes to the final stretch. Only 30 checkpoints remain between her and the goal. Don't think that this means the mountain has shown some mercy, though: This area is the hardest of all. The wind from Golden Ridge returns, except now it blows up and down, which effectively gives low and high gravity respectively. This is of course purely there to make the platforming more difficult.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DubgjY7UwAA4DLX.jpg

This section in particular is stupidly annoying. You need some very precise dashing skills to get through here unscathed. At around checkpoint 4, you can use a telescope to scout out the way to the summit. Checkpoint 2 is the last bit of challenge before you reach the end. And then...

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DubgjYjU0AA950C.jpg

They made it. The peak has been reached.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DubgjYlVAAAiPLj.jpg

Madeline's journey is complete. She and her goth self stay a while at the top to admire the view. Goth Madeline knows she'll disappear when she leaves the mountain, but she's still a part of Madeline, and she'll never be gone forever. The two Madelines head down the mountain together.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Dubg28WUwAESo7K.jpg

As one final gesture, Madeline uses all the strawberries she found to make a pie for everyone. You can also see my final time, strawberry count, and death count on this screen. Mission complete.

The main theme gets a reprise in this chapter in Reach for the Summit. If you only listen to one song from this game, make it this one.

There is in fact an eighth postgame chapter, but I'm not going to visit it. Maybe next year. There are also secret crystal hearts to collect and unlockable B-side chapters that really ramp up the difficulty.

And... that was Celeste. Expect me to go back to one game a day tomorrow.

154 (edited by Mezzopiano 2018-12-15 23:57:39)

Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 15: Frosty Flights (Fortnite)

Yes, I'm doing a Fortnite post. Feel free to disown me now.

Fortnite is the new early access crafting survival battle royale game that's a really big hit for some reason. The premise is simple enough: 100 people drop onto an island and battle until only one survivor remains. For Season 7, winter has come to the island, coating part of it in a layer of fresh snow.

https://i.imgur.com/LuJr9eo.png

I'm signing up for Squads mode here. In this version, people are split into 25 teams of 4, and the last surviving team wins. And you might recognize my teammates too.

https://i.imgur.com/c2o3ICk.png

This area gives you a little bit of time to prepare before being sent off. Then everyone boards a flying bus and it launches on its path across the island.

https://i.imgur.com/ByDwo0R.png

Everyone jumps off, and then you parachute down to wherever you want to land. In this case my teammates marked our landing site with a beacon.

https://i.imgur.com/l6EVOsX.png

You get a great view of the place as you dive down too. Everyone gets a glider that helps to steer you downward and avoid fall damage.

https://i.imgur.com/7XV7bbZ.png

Once you land, it's time to scavenge for weapons and materials. You can find wood, stone, and metal to construct your own buildings with, and pick up guns and other tools to fight off the opposing squads. This village was pretty deserted, so that allowed us to stock up on as many supplies as we could.

https://i.imgur.com/NGqGm9p.png

As the battle goes on, a deadly storm closes in on the island, moving players toward the center. We eventually had to leave the snowy areas behind and head for the more temperate part of the battle zone.

https://i.imgur.com/kG5kilq.png

It seems like whenever I do one of these, I end on a screenshot of me dying, don't I? This is from our second match, when I got killed by fall damage. Why does this game have fall damage when you open by falling from the sky? Who knows. At least I got a great view of this ridge before I collapsed.

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Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 16: Frozen Court (Slap City)

Roll up your shirt and jean shorts
and partake in the greatest death sport
slap a bestie on the face so pretty
welcome to Slap City~

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/947343648495669856/AAF5D01D66B4948DA2924452B871DEF826F3013E/

Slap City is a crossover platform fighter by indie studio Ludosity, here to prove that Nintendo's not the only one who can do Smash-esque games. It clearly doesn't have the budget of something like Smash Bros, but it does quite well with what it can. This stage is based on the Frozen Court area from Ittle Dew 2.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/947343648495670489/65FF81F18724E5DB22FB3BAEAE120A9DFDFC0DB5/

I'm playing as Princess Remedy from the little shmup/healing game of the same name. Her hobbies include healing random personal problems, stabbing people with syringes, and dating everyone she can. My opponents are Ittle Dew and Jenny Fox from Ittle Dew, and the Goddess of Explosions from... actually I'm not sure, but the fact that this game has a character named Goddess of Explosions is great.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/947343648495671174/4ABF058A15B85533FBEBEECE45B0833574197E0C/

The default match settings are 4 lives, 8 minutes. Much like Smash, you can rack up as much damage as you want, but don't lose a life until getting knocked off the screen. I don't think I've ever seen a Smash stage with a vertical barrier that reaches over the top like this, so it has kind of a different feel. KOs are pretty hard to get with all those walls around.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/947343648495671895/4C7FA557000EC11820545E4001891C87E348EDBA/

Also, there are no undead turnips here. That was mentioned on the stage select screen. Eventually this match came down to just me vs. Jenny Fox, and I nearly hit the time limit.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/947343648495672378/87AA770D498C787481DAC03FB27323E5ACD433D0/

But of course, in the end I managed to claim victory.

156 (edited by Mezzopiano 2018-12-18 05:33:25)

Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 17: Howling Peaks (Aer: Memories of Old)

Aer is a relaxing flying exploration game. As a human with the ability to transform into a bird, you travel across a realm of islands in the sky and uncover the secrets of a lost civilization. It's one of those games that while there is a plotline, sometimes it's just fun to roam around the skies and see what there is to explore.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/947343648500187550/87D7962D96DB3154885FB210564F56DA0A1237B5/

The Howling Peaks are located at the northern part of this sky realm. These mountains are visited by a constant snowstorm that impairs your visibility, but also adds an atmospheric touch.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/947343648500188272/F9150842334C61704DA636747A319E5E934BCC9A/

You don't really have to worry about any sort of threats here, so you're free to look around wherever you can. In human form, you have a lantern that you can use to light your way and see hidden objects.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/947343648500188764/B3456DFA108FE406FBDF8F55AE342B871B015142/

While looking around the area, I found this cave which appears to have some sort of spatial rift inside. You can't use bird form indoors, so I couldn't reach it.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/947343648500190100/7F3EA1EE8E9A7E1FACB8F053F0A0C6F924A13EF3/

Head further northwest and you can reach the Roof of the World, which is the site of one of three temples you need to visit on your journey.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/947343648500190369/5745701C6EAC43C91DD1A78CB8A97CABC2DA259C/

I couldn't get back into the temple, so instead I just looked around. This island is pretty big and has lots of little things to discover, so it's not like I had nothing to do out there. And it really is a lovely view.

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Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 18: Frozen Valley (Epic Battle Fantasy 5)

You may remember I once talked about an RPG named Epic Battle Fantasy 4, which was apparently a flash game franchise that graduated to a standalone PC release. The fifth installment is out now. More epics! More battles! More fantasy! Matt, Natalie, Anna, and Lance from EBF4 make their return. There is also now a fifth party member in NoLegs the cat, which is just the best thing.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/951847432569587765/D6AF07F6FC6B9F31536906F490ADEF763EAFA912/

This icy valley lies to the south of Matt's home, and our heroes need to cross it to reach Redpine Town. Of course, the journey will be perilous.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/951847432569588433/01EA4DED54C1594FD73591339B3F2E17B6DE65F2/

Naturally, many enemies here are ice-themed. Fire attacks are your best friend here. Combat is a bit more streamlined than in the prior game, and there is now also the option to capture enemies and use them as summons.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/951847432569588807/E134BB06E82E1A045018C5258746060DF6AADE33/

The valley is home to many ancient ruins that the heroes can't identify. They're pretty sure it was built by aliens, though.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/951847432569589473/55A9C188D6BA706D9996397CD77CDB25B54A2EB5/

As you head further in, things get colder. You also have to deal with the RPG classic of slippery ice that you constantly slide on until you hit something. Most of the puzzles are themed around this, and it also serves to cut you off from some screens.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/951847432569590577/7A33FDE4E38BC9EEB0AB69A961F57D6899B2D80C/

There are also a lot of undead enemies in this part, plus other things like woolly mammoths, polar bears, ice cream slimes, and ancient monoliths. It takes some persistence to get through, but eventually you can prevail and head for warmer climes.

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Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 19: Icecap (Sonic Adventure DX)

Depending on who you ask, Sonic Adventure is either a classic of the early 2000s, or the beginning of Sonic's descent into awfulness. Sonic's first foray into the realm of 3D is mostly well received, but brings with it a lot of awkwardness. This game defined the "Modern" look for Sonic, plus has six playable characters all with their own gameplay styles.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/951847432573341802/42162FF610E394CCA51D1A903A89AD4E4B00C400/

Dr. Eggman has teamed up with a new villain called Chaos, who feeds on Chaos Emeralds. Sonic and Tails are determined to get their hands on the Emeralds before Eggman can, and one is located on the slopes of this icy mountain.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/951847432573342260/39F608164382959E62F44B8B023B6C4ED9B91539/

A lot of the platforming in this level is between these icicles that Sonic can grab onto. There's also an icy cavern to explore and springs to bounce off of.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/951847432573343280/9423A737C6A95C60063CEEC9B66CA2158A620F0C/

The camera angle isn't very kind to you in these narrow spaces, but it's not too tough to get through if you know what you're doing. (Granted, considering the general awkwardness of this game, you probably don't.)

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/951847432573344323/3B16AFF4FB51C1D978916EE048B33BF8DEEC0D43/

When a sudden avalanche hits, Sonic grabs a convenient nearby snowboard and rides his way downhill.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/951847432573345044/073B03DDA4A5578F123305EFAD777EA3BFB0D527/

This segment is the longest part of the stage, and has lots of ice formations to break through, jump ramps you can do tricks off of, and a few Eggbots carpet bombing the area. Once you slide down to the bottom of the hill, you find the Emerald in a small clearing.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/951847432573345593/16E40E7EB02EA327A8BE2AC0E0307313E5DDF179/

When playing as Tails, you skip straight to the snowboard part. Now you need to run a snowboard race against Sonic and reach the Emerald before he does. Why? Who knows, this game certainly isn't gonna explain.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/951847432573346310/6A160F94BA6D2A6019699506D199BFBD9EDA7463/

It controls exactly the same as the Sonic version, but with the addition of racing to the goal first.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/951847432573346770/6AC7F36448265EA475E88A541CD25126012DE21E/

The third character who can visit this stage is easily this game's most hated character, Big the Cat. He's a cat. He's big. He's got a fishing pole.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/951847432573347431/60A9825418AF73F0C89665A6AE1490605C85C53C/

Once you break a hole in the ice on the floor, you can cast your fishing line down and fish for Big's friend Froggy. Wow. Such riveting high-speed action gameplay here.

Thankfully, one area where this game didn't screw up is the music. You start off with the cool Snowy Mountain, followed by Limestone Cave for the cavern section. For the snowboarding sequence we get Be Cool, Be Wild, and Be Groovy.

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Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 20: Snow Brawl (Heroes of the Storm)

Heroes of the Storm is another big inter-company crossover, this one being between Blizzard Entertainment's many franchises. The "Multiplayer Online Battle Arena" or "Hero Brawler" genre got its start from mods of Blizzard's strategy games, and this is Blizzard's own attempt to get in on that trend. I actually happened to catch the tail end of a special event this week that turns Heroes of the Storm into the most extreme snowball fight ever seen.

https://i.imgur.com/MDSSxjY.jpg

Winter has arrived in the Cursed Hollow, and snowballs are everywhere. This brawl gives you a selection of three random heroes to pick from. I played 3 rounds: One with Lucio, one with Thrall, and one with Sylvanas.

https://i.imgur.com/nT3UdAP.jpg

Each hero can hold 1 snowball at a time and throw them to attack enemies. There are two types: The soft snowballs hit a single enemy hero and knock them back, while the heavy snowballs crash down over an area. Snowballs spawn basically everywhere, so you're encouraged to use them as much as possible.

https://i.imgur.com/FghC8wA.jpg

There are also snowmen you can build by throwing snowballs at them. Once one's been completed, it'll follow you around and fight for your side.

https://i.imgur.com/EO97jBQ.jpg

Much like in the standard Cursed Hollow map, tributes spawn between the lanes. Having a hero capture one launches a giant snowball toward the enemy base for huge damage. These tributes spawn much faster than normal, basically turning the whole map into a fight over control for them. They take time to capture, which makes it possible to interrupt enemy heroes who try to take them.

https://i.imgur.com/Ug7mxsH.jpg

A few big snowballs launched at the core ends the match really quick. I lost the first two matches, but won the third. Victory is sweet, and all these snowmen appear to cheer the victors on.

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Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 21: North Zone (Hyper Light Drifter)

Hyper Light Drifter is a mysterious top-down exploration game. I don't want to call it a Metroidvania per se because it's not a platformer, but the concept is fairly similar. The game's storytelling is entirely visual, so it can be a bit hard to understand what's going on.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Du_Q2tmUwAANaMO.jpg

The drifter's journey takes them to the four corners of the world, and at the northern end is found a tall mountain.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Du_Q2teUcAAaHcR.jpg

It's big and snowy. Thankfully the snow is just there to look cool rather than hinder your movement.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Du_Q2tqUwAA-Gxc.jpg

Across the land can be found the ruins of ancient giants. What were these things, and why are they now just rubble? Who can say.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Du_Q_E9VsAA2V_s.jpg

The main opposition are these bird-like people. They attack you with magic blasts on sight, and you can retaliate using the drifter's sword and gun. Combat in this game can be pretty tricky, and restarts are common, but with enough persistence, you can prevail. After enough exploring, you can fight the largest and presumably leader of the bird people, who is the boss of the area.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Du_Q2tNVYAAJZMN.jpg

After defeating it, this pillar on the summit activates, but it's not clear what that does, either. It's probably good, though.

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Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 22: Icy Ascent (Marble It Up)

Marble It Up! (exclamation point included) is a marble rolling puzzle game for Switch. It follows in the grand tradition of other games such as Marble Madness and Super Monkey Ball, testing your skill at rolling a ball toward a target without it falling off the edge. You'd think a minimalist marble game wouldn't have an ice level, but this one actually has a few.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DvEaruRV4AEDNrZ.jpg

Stay Frosty is the tutorial stage that introduces you to this game's ice physics. You don't have much traction on slippery floors so it takes a lot more momentum to get the ball rolling, but once it does you can use the ice to build up speed.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DvEarv1VsAEp4Pd.jpg

Your maneuvering skills are put to the test in Icy Ascent. This is a long climb upward where you have to use speed boost powerups to zoom up icy ramps.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DvEaruVV4AACBly.jpg

Unlike some other marble games, this one is gracious enough to grant you a jump button, which is good because these platforms would be impossible to traverse without it.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DvEb-yRU0AElWD2.jpg

Crystalline Matrix is a long narrow path with many branches. It doesn't really matter which way you go, as all paths eventually lead to the goal. Be sure not to fall off!

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DvEarunV4AAH4SK.jpg

The last of these levels is Uphill Both Ways. This one is more puzzley than the others. About halfway through you encounter a pair of ramps that invert gravity, allowing you to roll on the opposite side of the level. You need to collect 8 gems scattered across both sides to unlock the goal, and you do indeed go uphill both ways.

These levels also hide a lot of secrets, namely trophies that unlock new marble types. The lovely frost-covered marble you see here was a secret tucked away in Uphill Both Ways, and the frost on it actually animates! There are plenty more too, but they're quite cleverly hidden.

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Day 23: Ice Climber

If you've played Super Smash Bros. you've probably heard of Ice Climber. It's the NES game the Ice Climbers come from, and if it weren't for that this game would likely have faded into obscurity long ago. This is a pretty simple vertical-based platformer where you climb up a mountain. And there is ice, obviously.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DvJH2Z2UwAAOzcR.jpg

As you can see I'm playing this through the Switch online service. Anyway, you are an ice climber. There is ice. You climb. The screen wraps around at the left and right edges. You can break the ice floors of each level by jumping into them, then hop up to the next floor.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DvJH2ZdVYAAUgD7.jpg

The Topi enemies will push ice blocks across the stage to repair the cracks you make. They're not that much of a threat so long as you give them a good smack with your hammer when they approach. The birds are harder to catch, but have big score value if you can take one down.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DvJH2ZuU8AEqdoB.jpg

There are 32 different mountains to climb, each with their own specific layout. They all have the same basic structure, but include new elements like falling icicles, moving floors, and walled-off sections. Unfortunately I didn't get to see any of the snazzy polar bears.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DvJH2ZuUcAIafel.jpg

After you clear floor 8, you go to the bonus level. You have 40 seconds to grab as many vegetables as you can, and try to make it toward the summit and reach the condor for an extra bonus. If you die here you just go on to the next level, so no pressure. The platforming is quite a bit trickier here, so unfortunately I couldn't snag the bonus.

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Day 24: Snowdale Hills (Nine Parchments)

When a mishap scatters the Astral Academy's spell parchments to far-off corners of the land, the student wizards studying there find an opportunity. By working together, perhaps they can recover the lost spells, and even collect the nine parchments they need for graduation. That is, if they don't blow themselves up first.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DvTHEBhU8AENwEa.jpg

This is a game that's very similar to Magicka, the famous wizard suicide simulator. Our brave students need to venture across the land to recover the missing spells. After heading through the tropical Turtle Islands, they come to this snowy tundra. This can be played solo or co-op and in this case I'm going solo with the cat warlock Rudolfus the Strange as my chosen mage.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DvTHEBeV4AAbsng.jpg

Spells come mainly in five flavors: Fire, ice, lightning, life, and death. Rudolfus is mainly a death specialist but can use a few others if needed. Rather than crafting your own spells like in Magicka, here you start with a preset spellbook and gain more magic as you collect the parchments. Many of the enemies are infused with magic as well, and are color-coded to represent this. The blue ones are immune to ice but vulnerable to fire, and vice versa for the reds.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DvTHEBmUUAA8iTz.jpg

Combat tends to feature a lot of spellslinging from many sides, and your spells are just as lethal to you and your allies as they are to your enemies. Like in Magicka, this often leads to you dying from something stupid like setting yourself on fire or walking into your own death curse.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DvTHEBGU8AA9_js.jpg

Along the way, you can check out some really gorgeous scenery. I had a hard time settling on screenshots for this one, because it's really long and all of it looks absolutely beautiful.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DvTHxQoUYAA5O-v.jpg

About halfway through you meet an ice falcon who holds one of the parchments. This duel is no simple task, as it can cast ice walls all over the field, plus fire a hail of arrows down on you. However, Rudolfus managed to prevail and got the Huge Fireball spell as a reward.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DvTHxRbU0AAEnyj.jpg

Because explosions make everything better.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DvTHxRcUwAEV_P4.jpg

These large enemies can only be hit from behind, and they tend to some with a swarm of irritating little minions. You have to keep a clear head and use the proper elements to take them down. Thankfully, attacking them with spells that fall from above works just fine.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DvTHxRBU0AAhIMk.jpg

Some enemies have shields or auras of protection. In this case the blue field nullifies ice magic, while the yellow shields protect vs. lightning. Fortunately, they're still perfectly vulnerable to death magic.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DvTH6uNVYAAHghm.jpg

A few scuffles later and it's on to the spring valleys to search for more lost spells.

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Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 25: Christmas Dreams (NiGHTS Into Dreams)

Merry Christmas! NiGHTS Into Dreams is a surreal flying game thing originally released on the Sega Saturn. Two children named Claris and Elliot meet in their dreams with NiGHTS, a dream spirit jester or... something. This game is confusing.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/951848044616875958/FD2BE11101D59350A7B199D3572C967D1DB6560E/

You can play as either in this mode, and they both get festive outfits.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/951848044616876958/1144E0F3EF6450EBA89DD003F61D37D26F07B140/

However, you spend most of your time flying around as everyone's favorite nonbinary jester, who also sports a fancy outfit change. Flying is done in a 2D plane where you loop around an area. This is a holiday-themed version of Claris' first dream, Spring Valley.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/951848044616878043/AD5C09C60A6DD1D08094BB449FF6264CBF010738/

Normally you collect blue chips to destroy Wizeman's machines, but in this case you're collecting ornaments to decorate the Christmas tree with. Once you have 20 placed on it, the route is complete and you can return to the starting point to begin the next.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/951848044616878838/62DC2BA1D9AFAD21EA4C3A454A5B0592CB9F0428/

Honestly, I don't know half of what actually goes on in this game. The Nightopians here get Santa outfits too, the rings you fly through are wreaths, and the stars are bells. It's quite full of holiday cheer.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/951848044616880218/D0D9658397822E56F63681F9819965FA1FE9D476/

Even the Nightmaren boss at the end gets into the Christmas spirit. Of course, just because it's dressed well doesn't mean it'll go easy on you. Defeat it, and you recover the star for the city's tree.

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Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 26: The Glacial Tundra (Hero Siege)

Hero Siege is a top-down action RPG for PC and mobile platforms. It's pretty much a straight Diablo clone, right down to using that weird font with the crossed Os. It doesn't have the story emphasis Diablo has, but there are heroes, and there is sieging to be done and loot to collect.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/951848044621808315/940D810FF92D27709E209D07FCD6E64CCEFD12AC/

The town of Inoya is the central hub, and from here you can select an act to visit. It also has a fresh coating of snow thanks to what I think is a winter event.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/951848044621812678/1C725CD92FDE30B00316484B8908B0EEFFAAC848/

Act II is The Glacial Tundra, and it has five levels: Crystal Village, Chilling Lake, Arctic Tundra, Snowy Mountains, and The Glacial Trail. In each level you're basically just dropped into a large area full of enemies for you to go to town on. My chosen hero class is Pirate, and she's equipped with a pair of handguns, cannonball blasts, and a swinging anchor. Battles can get quite chaotic, and at times almost makes things feel like a bullet hell game.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/951848044621816708/5E56E021B7BF6CE423BF109C0E14486273DF516D/

Once you've cleared out enough enemies, you can return to your starting position to encounter the stage boss. This one is a big eyeball that splits into two once it takes enough damage. When it dies, you can move on to the next stage.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/951848044621826374/B0FF10D8EEC9A076014E48DA5312C4A3B16FFB64/

As you move further into the icy depths, more undead enemies keep appearing. Why are undead found so often in cold places? Maybe it's a "cold touch of death" metaphor.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/951848044621827923/0A97190DB09E51B8D72BDFAC0EC8C3AD24B5F062/

Speaking of death, the Grim Reaper himself shows up as the end boss of the act. He attacks by throwing his scythe and firing skull novas in every driection. If you can beat him, the act is complete, and you'll likely earn a lot of loot too.

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Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 27: White Glacier (Bomberman 64)

Bomberman 64 is, as the name suggests, the White Bomber’s first Nintendo 64 appearance. It’s actually pretty different from the classic maze-style Bomberman games, as it features more diverse environments and the bombs no longer explode in the classic cross shape. When invaders conquer Planet Bomber, their fortress is secured in four places: Green Garden, Blue Resort, Red Mountain, and White Glacier. This game likes naming levels after colors.

https://66.media.tumblr.com/c9e0b0a46d6ae618902f86da73ceb563/tumblr_inline_pkfk24IGY01t9re87_500.png

Stage 1 is Blizzard Peaks, a snowy mountain. There are trees to blow up, enemy snow bunnies and snowmen to watch out for, and narrow paths. Some areas here have high winds that push you and your bombs around, while in another place you can use a bomb to cause an avalanche. Reach the narrow path to the highest peak, and you can activate a lift to stage 2.

https://66.media.tumblr.com/6a5567f2f690250d3cd74c3946dcde68/tumblr_inline_pkfk5kUlMa1t9re87_500.png

Stage 2 is a boss fight against Regulus, the blue general. Why the blue one and not the white one? Because this game likes mixing things up. He can drop bombs just like you, and will also attack with a dash. He’s not too hard to take down, though.

https://66.media.tumblr.com/1d6d9280405cfaa193783d763bd67c3f/tumblr_inline_pkfk79nXpL1t9re87_500.jpg

Stage 3 is titled Shiny Slippy Ice Floor, and lives up to its name. It is quite shiny! The camera occasionally changes here to view things from under the floor, and there’s lots of bad traction for you to deal with as you try not to fall into the abyss. To activate the lift to stage 4, you need to slide down a slope to reach a switch on the other side. There are enemies here, but I found it easier to just ignore them and focus on walking carefully across the ice.

https://66.media.tumblr.com/2d398737c5c499c3562035d94be570c3/tumblr_inline_pkfkb7u4CY1t9re87_500.png

Stage 4 is Cold Killers, the main boss fight. This ice spider is named Mantis, and is indeed a cold killer. Its attacks aren’t that threatening, so long as you keep mobile on the slippery floor. Its weak point is its central body, so to hit it you have to throw a remote bomb and detonate it in midair. This is no easy task, especially doing so without blowing yourself up. When it reaches its last hit point, it’ll break the floor, sending you down to a spider web. It isn’t slippery, but you need to be careful not to fall through the gaps in the floor.

Oh, and of course this has some classic snowy music too.

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Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 28: Winter (Nidhogg II)

Nidhogg is a bizarre little indie fencing game. The first Nidhogg was done in a pixelated style but had a surprising amount of depth. Nidhogg II brings all that back and adds more to it, plus now it has an ice level.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/951848302307005040/671752EDFF1FE26077367FE20EE01FB01DE182A6/

There are also more arena choices than the first game, and one of them is this lovely wintry area.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/951848302307006919/1B5E7BEEC78FFC3BDB7A3AA70BCC3ADCFDBB6BB2/

Our two duelists meet in the center and are ready to throw down. I'm the blue one on the left, while my AI opponent stands on the right. Almost all your attacks are one-hit kills, so individual battles end pretty quickly. However, killing your opponent is just the beginning.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/951848302307014729/B33637124528254D5446EB80DF37F635D7D8C4F8/

Making a kill gives you the right of way, allowing you to move forward. Enemies respawn quickly, and if you're unprepared they'll take you down and start moving the screen in the opposite direction. New to this game from the first Nidhogg is different weapon types. The standard weapon is the rapier, but you can also acquire broadswords, daggers, and even bows and arrows.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/951848302307015484/DD54B0F0844B174C882DD9758FDA426B2008AED3/

You can block an opponent's strike (or reflect an arrow) by holding your sword at the same height. Or you can throw your sword at the enemy, but then you're stuck without a sword and have to rely on your fists and feet to knock the enemy's weapon out of their hands and kill them. Or, more likely, be stabbed to death immediately because you can't block their blade. There are a lot of options, and combat can get intense.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/951848302307019421/D0772652B596DDC45191F8C8EE4BD0D5EA734459/

Bows might seem like the superior weapon, but they do have some major disadvantages. You can't block with them, so if the enemy gets close enough they're vulnerable to melee. And it's possible for arrows to cancel each other out or even be reflected in the opposite direction, killing you with your own shot.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/951848302307023771/EF4DD455B515AA17108DB4CD8C85D8B7220AB0C4/

The eventual goal is to reach the end of the field. That's the right end for me, and the left end for my opponent. Battles can take a while as they turn into a tug-of-war for territory, and sometimes running past your foe is the simplest plan if you already have right of way. Or you could end up falling into a pit and granting it to the enemy...

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/951848302307025186/B34D2FE5961924FEFAE924D98F2F67E58361D8CF/

Your reward: being eaten by the Nidhogg. Yay...?

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Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 29: Ice Cavern (Final Fantasy IX)

Final Fantasy IX is objectively the best Final Fantasy. It just is, okay? It's the ninth or somethingth game to be an epic RPG with the words "Final" and "Fantasy" in the title, and is generally thought to have a lighter tone than the other Final Fantasies of its era. When an attempt to kidnap Princess Garnet Til Alexandros XVII goes wrong, four heroes are brought together by unusual circumstance. After a narrow escape from the well-named Evil Forest leaves them stranded in the valleys of the Mist Continent, they find an escape through a nearby cavern.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/951848302311247389/1C72CA3E9298EBD8963E5679E83C25284FB0132C/

It is, of course, an ice cavern. It's not really clear why, as neither the area around the base or summit of the climb is icy. Perhaps it's the work of the evil Mist that fills the land. Staying down in the valleys has long-term ill effects, so our heroes need to be swift in their ascent.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/951848302311248264/D5B57856BACB865BD9483DF5442B549AC81DAA6A/

Of course, that doesn't mean they can't stop to look at the scenery first. This game's pre-rendered backgrounds looked quite lovely on the PS1, and the PC port preserves them well. They still look decent today, but the contrast between them and the character models is very apparent.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/951848302311250145/1F8580550B003FB04624FD581C7C8B2398FB1A17/

Garnet is accompanied by three others: The thief Zidane, the black mage Vivi, and the knight Steiner. Garnet fills out the group as their white mage. None of the enemies in the cavern are all that difficult, since this area is still pretty early in the game and it's the first time you use these four all in the same party.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/951848302311250833/A874C1ACA8F96AC6AAA2114FD5961B12EA2250B8/

Thankfully, you don't need to worry about slipping and falling off these fancy ice pathways. Some have walls that you can melt with Vivi's fire magic to uncover secrets. There's also a Moogle you can free this way to make a save point. After meeting him, the group comes to a valley where a chill wind blows, putting them all to sleep. Only Zidane is able to resist.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/951848302311252737/4C13FA2048A54D9C2D38398292BA2BF11BBF33DB/

The source is revealed to be the Black Waltz #1, a black mage that is determined to return Garnet to her wicked mother. He also summons an ice creature named Sealion to help him. You have to beat both of them with just Zidane, which is no easy task. Both will wear you down by casting magic, and while neither does that much individually, they can grind him down pretty fast. Black Waltz 1 can also heal Sealion by casting ice magic on it. Using potions is important, and you can also snatch some nice items with Zidane's thievery.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/951848302311253609/A884036C9DD9233F52C9529ACD4D2C4FABB36E79/

The key to defeating them lies in Zidane's Trance form. Once he takes enough damage, he'll enter this form automatically. His thief skills are replaced with powerful energy attacks for the duration.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/951848302311254358/8CF19A95F8B02E4A9257C2F487A96A0B27082DCA/

Kaboom! One dead mage, and Sealion falls soon after. Then Zidane can rescue the rest of his party and continue on.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/951848302311256617/D4A21673B24F3E3162776E7730B7ABBB61068900/

After a few more rooms, they come to the summit. They know they're not out of danger yet, as Queen Brahne still seeks to capture her daughter by any means necessary. Garnet decides she needs an alias to stay hidden from the local populace, and looking to Zidane's knives for inspiration, calls herself Dagger.

The music for the Ice Cavern is kinda... quirky? I don't know how else to describe it. But given that it's Final Fantasy music, and from the best one at that, it's still fun to listen to.

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Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 30: Ice Ring Isle (The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker)

The Wind Waker is the Zelda game that everyone thought would ruin Zelda forever, but when it actually came out it was well-received. This is the game that introduced the “Toon Link” style that a lot of other Zelda games would mimic. There are dungeons to solve and evils to slay, only now it takes place on an ocean.

https://66.media.tumblr.com/b59feaeb88f1d0e9ecd005a0695a93e1/tumblr_inline_pkl0wfo9Mu1t9re87_500.png

Ice Ring Isle lies just west of the Forest Haven. It’s, well, a ring of ice. It’s too cold to touch: If you try to make landfall on it, Link freezes to death! Once you have the Fire and Ice Arrows, you can gain access by shooting a Fire Arrow into the big rock formation that looks like a dragon. This will warm the island up enough for you to land.

https://66.media.tumblr.com/f971d81410ba6998febd94c4f07cccb3/tumblr_inline_pkl10oj6ME1t9re87_500.jpg

It’s still cold, though. You have 5 minutes from the time you shot the Fire Arrow to get inside and grab what you need, else the island freezes over again. First, you need to do some precision jumping on slippery floors. Link can hold his footing on most of them, but the sloped ones will send him sliding down.

https://66.media.tumblr.com/703896591f18fb8021adceef8163f2c9/tumblr_inline_pkl12kuY1u1t9re87_500.png

Once you get inside, you’re still under the time limit as you need to slide down a few more slopes to get the treasure.

https://66.media.tumblr.com/9de256f61f2552184449fb7c62857e9a/tumblr_inline_pkl14ft3Ub1t9re87_500.jpg

You found the Iron Boots! If you played Ocarina of Time, you’ll remember them. They’re so heavy you can barely walk, but can’t be worn in water. Instead, you use them to stand against strong winds without being pushed back. Once you have these, you can access the Wind Temple’s entrance at Gale Isle, and come one step closer to saving the Great Sea from Ganondorf’s wrath.

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Day 31: Mount Alodiel (Pyre)

The Commonwealth is a proud nation formed from the ashes of a fallen empire. It is a place that you would love to return to, if you could. For you have been exiled to the Downside, a vast, inhospitable land where criminals are sent to spend the rest of their lives. However, there is one way to regain freedom... A set of ancient Rites, ordained by the stars above, offer you one chance. Such is the story of Pyre.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/951848487720171649/026F286078B4CF971FA8A257AC219F930E1099EF/

As the Reader of a triumvirate named the Nightwings, you and your companions seek the path to freedom. It eventually leads them to the sacred Mount Alodiel, the tallest point in the Downside. The first stop along the climb is the icy Sclorian Shore.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/951848487720172135/0020F7C5BEC3FD6E7382F14CCEE96457CA083471/

Then your wagon comes to the mountain trail itself. It is a beautiful place, adorned with statues of the Eight Scribes who once gave their freedom so the people of the Downside could reclaim theirs.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/951848487720172879/32FADD6EB80BC854E936F25834BC5DDC3829A166/

At the summit is the point where freedom becomes a possibility.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/951848487720173333/F98DB6BF175D16894E86E5E6F7B80E338ED94562/

There are multiple paths leading up the mountain trail, and some your companions would like to visit for their own personal reasons. Taking a particular path may lead you to hidden items, or bonuses for certain teammates.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/951848487720174165/4BBCB056AA4E8CE26D1C80782397D981C8EDF4E2/

At the Scribesgate, you must declare your reasons for coming to the bard Celeste. She is satisfied, and together the Nightwings proceed to the celestial landmark at the Fall of Soliam.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/951848487720174679/9036409DD137F86BD0B00428F2F50B2121064A1A/

Here, the Liberation Rite will commence. This is the chance to secure freedom... but only for one person. And it cannot be you, as you are a Reader and do not participate in the Rites directly.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/951848487720175690/612B10FD6641ADEAE39391C874140E66CE1D3861/

My choice was the exile Kae. The Nightwings are opposed by the Tempers, who chose the exile Ignarius as their candidate.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/951848487720176735/848A5EC87BF40EC6313CCD3EAF27C16A88E73318/

The goal of the Rite is to extinguish the opposing triumvirate's Pyre by use of the Celestial Orb which falls from the sky. It can be considered similar to a game of basketball or soccer, with the Pyre serving as the goal. Each triumvirate must act as one, meaning that only one exile of the three can be controlled at a time. You can swap exiles (and pass the Orb, if you have it) at any time.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/951848487720177364/D7E7C10681018CE6AD77BA05CB62744A21603D1B/

Exiles can strike one another with their Aura, and become temporarily banished should it hit. However, they have no Aura when holding the Orb. One option is to banish the entire opposing team, while another is to simply grab the Orb and make a run for it. You can either plunge into the Pyre directly, or throw the Orb into it. Should you choose the former option, that exile will stay banished for the next round.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/951848487720178189/D33693CE774B54BFBF93E914D4545293F40A6446/

The Tempers played well, and this Rite came down to the wire. Then with one final push, Ignarius launched himself forward, and extinguished the Nightwings' Pyre.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/951848487720179371/06978FC96BBE1DF446051444F6DB4F3A13D4D64B/

Kae was denied her freedom, and Ignarius was returned to the Commonwealth, all crimes pardoned. He entered the shimmer-pool and ascended into the air.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/951848487720179856/D6E8DA77BAF686961886F49DAA214CCC28A80BD8/

However, this was not the end of the story. The Nightwings retreated to a moonlit alcove on the opposite side of the mountain, awaiting the day when the stars would align once again, and the cycle of the Rites would commence once more.

The Liberation Rite is accompanied by the song Never to Return, a fitting theme as this is easily the most serious event in the game.

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Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 1: Ice Cavern (The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time)

It begins again, and this time we're starting off with a classic. The Nintendo 64's Ocarina of Time is the myth, the legend, the gold standard of Zelda games that every other one in the series gets compared to. It is also one of the first to include time travel as a central mechanic, with past and future states for not just the kingdom of Hyrule, but Link himself.

https://i.imgur.com/LeL83j3.png

In the past, Zora's Domain was the home of the aquatic Zora tribe.

https://i.imgur.com/dsZtLiP.png

Now it's frozen completely solid, and the few Zoras remaining are trapped within the ice.

https://i.imgur.com/2V6Tj2F.png

By heading up to Zora's Fountain, we can use a few chunks of ice floating in the water to reach a hidden cavern.

https://i.imgur.com/uOS02hq.png

It's about what you'd expect, and has some very crystalline music.

https://i.imgur.com/Iecp5Zi.png

These Freezards don't move, but can freeze Link solid with their icy breath. A few sword hits can shatter them easily.

https://i.imgur.com/Qhz6ThG.png

If you leave him alone for a few seconds, Link will shiver in his idle animation. That's kind of adorable.

https://i.imgur.com/RuyJkSx.png

These things are some of the most obnoxious enemies in the game. Ice Keese freeze Link on contact just like the Freezards do. Being encased in ice prevents Link from moving and slowly drains his health, and it gives the bastards enough time to fly away before he can recover. Without a ranged weapon handy, the only way to deal with them is to hit them before they can touch him.

https://i.imgur.com/p4jPu3V.png

Mysterious blue fires burn in a few places, which can be captured in an empty bottle. It might be good for something.

https://i.imgur.com/y6zaQWh.png

Here's another classic Zelda element: block puzzles. This ice block will slide along the floor until it hits something, then you can jump on top of it to reach the Rupees above. And there are more Ice Keese here too.

https://i.imgur.com/ycYesrr.png

The blue fire can be used to melt this red ice that blocks Link's path. If the fire is cold, is the ice hot? Who can say.

https://i.imgur.com/RtK4UZz.png

Getting through all the challenges will bring Link to a miniboss, the White Wolfos. It looks pretty intimidating, but it's a pushover. One good hit on the tail destroys it.

https://i.imgur.com/9gQPVdG.png

The reward for defeating it is the Iron Boots. This might seem like a joke item at first, since they're so heavy you can hardly walk. However, if you wear them in water, you sink to the bottom.

https://i.imgur.com/qc72uZI.png

After obtaining them, Link meets the mysterious traveler Sheik, who explains that the ice over this place is the result of Ganondorf's curse, and the key to breaking it lies within the Water Temple at the bottom of Lake Hylia. The Iron Boots are the key to getting inside.

https://i.imgur.com/mQsA1e3.png

Link learns the Serenade of Water from this encounter. It's a song for his ocarina which, when played, teleports him to the temple's entrance at Lake Hylia from wherever he is. The Water Temple, as its name suggests, is themed around liquid water and not ice, and I'll be happy to not visit it today.

https://i.imgur.com/hsQMbfK.png

Going back and using some blue fire to unfreeze King Zora has him grant Link a new outfit out of gratitude. The Zora Tunic isn't just a fashion piece, as it also allows Link to breathe underwater, and pairs quite well with the Iron Boots. With these tools in hand, Link is ready to head to the Water Temple and defeat the monster there in order to break the curse.

172

Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 2: Snowy Depths (Noita)

Noita is a game that's essentially a combination of a particle physics sandbox and a roguelike. You play a wizard (or witch, it's not exactly easy to tell) that attacks with a variety of different spells, and can use lots of different materials to your advantage.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/781868143662382521/4DA0BB08346D7F0EE5056A7E51A1E1D38AA964E5/

The Snowy Depths are the third section of the caverns you proceed down into. There's lots of snow and ice around. Ice can be cracked by sufficiently strong impacts, while snow is powdery.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/781868143662383541/86F74E873B088E122FF4F5504F777A958C4A0F67/

Right at the start I got attacked by an icy skull. When shot, it bleeds freezing vapor that rises upward. This is hazardous to our health and will also freeze any liquids it comes into contact with.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/781868143662383902/905DD4D4D98517FBBB668106DE7B22E341218533/

And then I got sniped by a lightning bolt. Okay then, time to try this again.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/781868143662386427/D14AD7B3B001331608E755D36567549204E02B7B/

After a few unsuccessful attempts, I managed to return. This time I found both a spell that generates a freezing field, and one that summons large quantities of water.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/781868143662387025/570321FC5F8A78B0F7A74F51D61662167A905DBE/

These synergize well, as I can use them to create a circle of ice to use as a platform or barrier. In this case I can just sit tight while letting all those rats drown.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/781868143662387736/8338A736901D234AC51174E6B6E3DA8F124B399B/

It still couldn't save me, though.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/781868143662388454/918AC7D1FB4F34D1C44EEDF0E59FFA3B94CEF375/

Okay, third time's the charm. This time around I encountered a rock creature that also bleeds freezing vapor. I managed to kill it, thankfully.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/781868143662389352/99CDA43147AB69B48CE52BDFCE1C167E4F8035DD/

Now maybe I can actually proceed deeper inside the caves.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/781868143662389732/286D542D0244550B3EB888380DB24492CFE8C9F7/

And here I found a giant sandworm. I tried shooting it a few times, but its health bar barely budged, so I eventually decided to leave it be.

https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/781868143662390644/19B0F70B684D884FE9CA79ED5190BE39D07E21FD/

And then an icy skull got me again. Yeah, it's that sort of game. I think that's enough for today.

173 (edited by Mezzopiano 2019-12-03 17:04:45)

Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 3: Ice Mountain Zone (Sonic Advance)

Sonic Advance is one of the first Sonic games created for a Nintendo console (the Game Boy Advance, naturally). It continues the tradition of classic 2D Sonic gameplay in the era of Modern Sonic, and has Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and Amy as playable characters. It also has some really great sprite work.

https://i.imgur.com/O5HGW8C.png

Zone 4 is an icy mountain.

https://i.imgur.com/yBEjegI.png

The GBA's small screen size means you can't really see much ahead of you, so Sonic is a little slower than in past games to compensate.

https://i.imgur.com/tfKFWqV.png

Being on an ice mountain means there's lots of slidey things around. Sadly, there's no snowboards in this one.

https://i.imgur.com/fQul0VR.png

Though there is deep snow that will hinder Sonic's running.

https://i.imgur.com/tLykaFs.png

This is also the only zone in this game to feature water. Sonic is well known for his inability to swim, so the only thing to do is run along the bottom and keep an eye out for air bubbles before the dreaded drowning music catches you.

https://i.imgur.com/5jipCuk.png

Here's a penguin bot that originally appeared in Sonic 3. I'm surprised it got an update for this game.

https://i.imgur.com/Uh4O7Nw.png

The Act 2 boss is Dr. Eggman in some kind of drill machine.

https://i.imgur.com/Yn19NSu.png

He clings to the ceiling and drops icicles from above. These can be used as platforms, allowing Sonic to both reach the boss and get a breath of air.

https://i.imgur.com/atGnMGE.png

As Eggman takes more hits, he drops more icicles at once. This boss is significantly easier when playing as Amy, since her enhanced jump height means she can just hit Eggman directly instead of bothering with the icicles.

https://i.imgur.com/Aiwcbsp.png

After beating it, the water drains from the room, and Sonic can rescue all the animals from Eggman's capsule.

This is actually going to be a triple feature: there are three Sonic Advance games, and each one has its own ice level. Expect more Sonic for the next few days.

Oh, I nearly forgot the music! Act 1 is kind of mellow, while Act 2 is more cheerful.

174

Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 4: Ice Paradise Zone (Sonic Advance 2)

Compared to the first entry, the second Sonic Advance game features a greater focus on speed over platforming, and larger environments for Sonic and friends to run around in. It also introduces a new playable character, Cream the Rabbit.

https://i.imgur.com/7iJUePs.png

Like before, the ice world is Zone 4.

https://i.imgur.com/dcSKll3.png

https://i.imgur.com/QkiVPPM.png

I'm not really sure what makes this a "paradise". Maybe it's the city in the background, or the cheery music.

https://i.imgur.com/vgJ8UQA.png

There are a few slippery ice floors that you slide along. You can't run on these, but you can still jump.

https://i.imgur.com/XPi6GZg.png

And of course, loops. Can't have a Sonic game without 'em.

https://i.imgur.com/PwT7tOh.png

Rail grinding was in Sonic Advance 1, but only in a few places. Here it's much more prevalent and fits in with the higher speed theme.

https://i.imgur.com/ywe6Uc3.png

Building up enough speed lets you enter boost mode, where you leave an after image trail. It's not really helpful for much, but it looks cool.

https://i.imgur.com/CiT1qmU.png

There's Act 1 complete. Now we can move on to Act 2, which has its own music.

https://i.imgur.com/x5YNYXL.png

Don't let Cream's cute appearance make you think she's weak. She's actually the most overpowered character in the game, beating out even Tails. She can fly by flapping her ears, plus order her pet Chao, Cheese, to attack any enemy on the screen and destroy it instantly.

https://i.imgur.com/aYC7cLS.png

Boss fights in this game are all endlessly running forward. For this one, we need to chase Eggman's pod and avoid the bombs it drops. Normally you have to hit the platform following it to bounce high enough to hurt Eggman, but since I'm playing as Cream, I can just use Cheese to, well, cheese this fight.

https://i.imgur.com/0xH9DB7.png

Kaboom.

https://i.imgur.com/BJWWYFX.png

And that's that. The conclusion of the Advance trilogy comes tomorrow.

175 (edited by Mezzopiano Yesterday 22:54:48)

Re: Mezzo's Obligatory Ice Level Month

Day 5: Twinkle Snow Zone (Sonic Advance 3)

The third and final game of the Sonic Advance subseries tries to strike a balance between the pure speed of Advance 2 and the platforming focus of Advance 1. It also adds a new gimmick: You select two characters, and who you pick as your ally affects your main's abilities. It's also playable in co-op with two GBAs.

https://i.imgur.com/RTNaBZh.png

This time around the snow world is Zone 5 rather than 4. There's also a small hub world between acts, which gets its own music.

https://i.imgur.com/8ceXivB.png

And here's Act 1.

https://i.imgur.com/2nshZ5O.png

When paired up with Sonic, Amy gets a speed boost and can enter boost mode much like in Advance 2.

https://i.imgur.com/C0BeT3i.png

It's helpful for zooming through stuff, even if her rail grinding animation looks a bit silly.

https://i.imgur.com/VEEau0k.png

I switched out characters for Act 2, since I want to give everyone else some time in the spotlight. With Tails as his ally, Knuckles gains a double jump in addition to his glide and wall climb, making him very good for exploration.

https://i.imgur.com/U9smhZC.png

These top-hatted penguin bots are rather cute, and will throw snowballs as you pass by.

https://i.imgur.com/25DB2Yc.png

There are some cannons that freeze you and launch you into the air. This is actually more helpful than it looks.

https://i.imgur.com/dnzcDjV.png

And we have to deal with some more underwater sections. Knuckles has the ability to tread the surface of water. This is only present in the three Sonic Advance games, and only for Knuckles. I'm not really sure why it's a thing, since it's not good for much.

https://i.imgur.com/MOlEp2T.png

There are now three acts per zone, rather than two. Tails gets the leading role in Act 3.

https://i.imgur.com/AoZvcOi.png

Teaming Amy up with Tails grants him the ability to use her signature hammer, and he can even use it to attack while flying. This comes at the cost of his regular spin jump, but it's a small price to pay.

https://i.imgur.com/H0zHfQ3.png

The boss of this zone is a vertical challenge. Eggman's machine will rise from below, forcing the stage to scroll upward. To deal damage you need to drop the platforms on it from above. Tails' flight is very helpful for this, but one hit is liable to send him careening into a bottomless pit.

https://i.imgur.com/averbub.png

"You're going to pay for this!"

Once that's dealt with, this zone is finished up.