This winter has been pretty rough. Snow, ice and freezing rain are showing up in parts of the country that exclusively wear flip-flops. Life in the polar vortex has been like living in a videogame ice level. Sometimes it can be fun, sometimes a lot of fun, but too much can be a real drag. In recognition of the unusually crappy climate conditions, we've compiled a list of the most difficult and dreadful snow levels in gaming. Grab some hot cocoa and stay inside with some games that will make you feel like you're stuck outside.
Spelunky is great - but it's also the worst game ever made. Every level of this platforming roguelike is designed to murder you and make you feel like it was your fault. "Why'd you make me do that, baby? If you hadn't provoked that giant spider it wouldn't have scared you into impaling yourself on that spike pit." The third world, the Caves, is especially brutal. Fraught with tough jumps, landmines, wooly mammoths and laser-shooting aliens, traversing the Caves is made even harder by the icy-slick surfaces. Getting thrown into a bottomless pit by a yeti should be a sign about how you're spending your time, but it will only make you slap your back with a belt and try again.
The Ice Climbers are a pretty cute duo in the Smash Bros. series, but their original game is a tag-team of ugly and terrible. Popo and Nana must be bundled up like Ralphie's little brother in A Christmas Story, because they shuffle and jump like manatees in blue and pink hoodies. For a game that lets you get rides from a flying dinosaur and wallop seals with a hammer, it's pretty boring. Nintendo hasn't made a lot of truly bad games *coughUrbanChampioncough* but the ones that suck really know how to blow.
I know what you're thinking and yes, they made a March of the Penguins game, and no, Morgan Freeman is in no way involved. It's a minigame collection for Game Boy Advance and DS, filled with the kind of waterfowl-flavored timewasters you'd find on AddictingGames in 2001. The star is undoubtedly the Lemmings rip-off portion, in which you place objects in the path of the titular marching penguins so they don't fall off the iceberg and uh, swim much faster than they would be able to waddle? As far as movie-based games go, this one's somewhere between E.T. and Super Steel Magnolias.
Has anyone ever played one of those slide-across-the-ice puzzles and afterward marveled at the rich and rewarding experience crafted by master artisans? Maybe the deviants at GameFreak know someone, they've been putting the same shuffleboard section in Pokemon games for years. X and Y have a ton of great improvements, but in this case a stubborn tradition prevailed. Do you know another game that has awful slide-across-the-ice puzzles? I'll give you a hint: It rhymes with Starch of the Sanguines.
This level has a lot going for it, from the tense crawl across the ice to the opportunity to punch a shark in the face. But everything grinds to a halt when you have to get on a wobbly raft and repeatedly tap a button to pull yourself around, sometimes as an escort. It's the least fun part of any Batman game, and that includes playing as Chris O'Donnell in Batman Forever.
Thanks to its time-travel plot device, Chrono Trigger has some of the best, most varied locales in any RPG. And then there's Death Peak. Not only do you have to slog through battles with blobs and porcupine snails, but the wind is a major obstacle to progression. Slip and fall and it's just like getting bumped off the last stretch of Choco Mountain in Mario Kart 64 -- you have to start all over. And there are no blue shells in Chrono Trigger.
After five Mega Man games, Capcom was clearly out of ideas. Envision the developer meeting over this level:
"Since we're basing our robot masters on international stereotypes, we should have Canada in there somewhere. We already did Ice Man so maybe like, Snow Man? No. What about Blizzard Man? He'll be like a cross-country skiier who uh, slowly skis at you. We could have enemies be evil curling pucks, it'll be great! Man, I hope this company never runs out of ideas and abandons Mega Man, disappointing fans for years on end."
No one can blame you for being nostalgic for some FFVII, but take a look at the video of the snowboarding minigame. Admit it, that looks like someone ported Snowboard Kids to the Atari Jaguar. It has all the wonky mechanics of other racing segments but without chocobos or motorcycle sword fights. Aeris should be glad she didn't live to see this.
The snowy Secret Mine in Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon is pretty cool (get it, because of temperature), but the boss at the end is a hateful prick. Imagine you're playing skee-ball, but instead of hitting your targets at a leisurely pace in a family establishment, you're rocketing behind a rotating ice drill headed straight to hell. Miss just a couple shots in the on-rails boss fight and you have to start from the beginning. Leave it to Luigi to get a whole year in his honor and still shit the bed.
Do you want to ruin your friendships? Play Mario Party. Do you want to black out and wake up covered in three different kinds of blood that don't belong to you? Play the icy Bumper Balls minigame in Mario Party 2.