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The Ice Climber universe (アイスクライマー, Ice Climber) refers to the Smash Bros. series's collection of characters, stages, and properties that hail from Nintendo's old, classic game Ice Climber, released in 1984 for the arcade cabinets and, in 1985, made a port for NES. The game was one of several classic NES games that HAL Laboratory was considering bringing back to modern attention by including it in Super Smash Bros. Melee, and it won out over the other games to include the Ice Climbers as playable characters.
Interestingly, it has made two crossovers with the Balloon Fight universe: the alternate music for Icicle Mountain, simply called "Balloon Fight", and the fish that is a regular enemy when the iceberg drops into the water in The Summit.
On December 17, 1984 Nintendo released Vs. Ice Climber, part of a series of Arcade cabinets called Nintendo Vs. Series
One year later, in 1985, the game Ice Climber was released in the U.S., and it was among the groups of video games released prior to the release of the original Super Mario Bros. later that year. In that sense, it would not have been considered a huge success, as video games had not entered the mainstream at the time. It was the first game programmed by prominent programmer Kazuaki Morita, and he would later consider this game his "warm-up" on the NES before his work as a Main Programmer on Super Mario Bros., which revolutionized the industry. Morita later had central programming roles in other Mario, as well as games in The Legend of Zelda series and Star Fox 64 as well. Ice Climber, in the meantime, had been ported to other related platforms such as the Famicom Disk System, with an altered and lesser-known version called Vs. Ice Climber released in arcades in the year before its first normal release. More recently, the game had been ported to several modern platforms such as the e-Reader for Game Boy Advance (as well as a Classic NES series entry), as a collectible NES game in the 2002 GameCube game Animal Crossing, and as an entry in the list of games available for the Wii Virtual Console.
In Ice Climber, the player controls one of two children in Eskimo parkas and wielding huge mallets (the game can be played solo with the blue Ice Climber, Popo, seen only onscreen, or cooperatively, where the other, pink Ice Climber, Nana, is controlled by the second player simultaneously), and the challenge is to scale vertical stages, titled mountains, to recover the Ice Climbers' stolen vegetables from a giant condor that flies around at the top of each mountain. Each stage consists of eight lower floors featuring barriers and blocks of smashable ice arranged to make jumping up and climbing each stage tricky. During this the Ice Climbers must contend with a few varieties of enemies native to this mountain: The relatively harmless Topi which pushes ice into gaps to impede the player's progress; the more harmful bird enemy Nitpicker, which flies around and can damage the player; and the pink-shorts-wearing, sunglass-sporting, upright-walking Polar bear, which pounds the ice to force the screen to move upward, and if an Ice Climber is too far down at the bottom, a life will be lost. After eight floors, the Ice Climbers reach the second half of the stage, the "bonus" stage, where without any enemies to worry about they must navigate a tricky platform obstacle course, collecting vegetables for bonus points, and when they reach the mountain's peak the Condor flies above. Jump up with pinpoint precision to grab the Condor's talons and end the stage with a huge bonus.
Ice Climber remained a gem and relic from gaming history, like other games such as Kid Icarus and Balloon Fight. When HAL Laboratory was designing Super Smash Bros. Melee, they decided that one of these games would be introduced in the game as a playable franchise. The game selected was Ice Climber, and the result was the titular pair of Ice Climbers, Popo and Nana, as a single playable fighter, the stage Infinite Glacier: Icicle Mountain as a playable stage, and Topis and Polar bears as common enemies. In addition, graphics and layout from the original game were used in the Ice Climbers' Target Test stage to serve as a heavy nostalgia trip. Melee introduced the modern generation of gamers to Ice Climber and renewed the latter game's appreciation by the community.
List of Games in the Ice Climber franchise
- Ice Climber (1985, NES)
Ice Climber is a franchise first introduced in the in Super Smash Bros. Melee, and it features a standard universe's worth of content from the franchise.
- Ice Climbers: A pair of children clad in blue and pink Eskimo parkas, the Ice Climbers (respectively, Popo and Nana) live and sustain themselves on a variety of vegetables. When a giant condor steals the vegetables for itself and flees up to the peaks of various mountains, the pair grabs big mallets and hike up each mountain, smashing blocks of ice in their way and swatting Topis, Nitpickers, and Polar Bears before retrieving their stolen veggies and confronting the condor at the top. The Ice Climbers are the most unique fighter in Melee in that it is two copies of the same fighter mimicking each other's moves a fraction of a second apart, and the player controls the one "lead" Ice Climber while the second is computer controlled. At first considered gimmicky, over time professional players have learned to take advantage of this setup with various innovations, such as Desynching, transforming the Ice Climbers into a combatant in the top tier.
Melee features one stage based on the Ice Climber game. A second one was apparently planned, however; hidden in the debug menu is the name of a stage called "IceTop", but it was apparently never designed because selecting it will only transport to the normal stage detailed below:
- Infinite Glacier: Icicle Mountain: Representing the vertical, platformed mountains that Popo and Nana regularly scale, this is perhaps the game's most unusual stage; it is an infinitely scrolling vertical stage where all sorts of platforms are laid out in almost random configuration, and one must pay attention both to the battling and keeping oneself on platforms that aren't about to disappear off the bottom into the abyss. It is a combination of this and the fact that the KO boundaries on either side of the stage are rather close to each other, causing potentially random KOs, that many players consider this their least favorite stage and it is often banned in tournaments. The Adventure Mode version of this stage features many Topis and Polar Bears as common enemies, and the Mario-series item Freezie makes many appearances as well.
Melee features some easily KO'ed obstacle opponents hailing from the Ice Climber universe. This may be considered unusual because the game's other Common Enemies belong only to "big" franchises such as Mario and Zelda.
- Topi: In the U.S. versions of both Melee and the original Ice Climber, the Topi is a small, fluffy creature said to resemble a Yeti. In the Japanese versions of these games, however, the Topi is a blue seal. The reason for this change is that Nintendo was wary of potential American accusations of depicting animal cruelty in Ice Climber, in which the Ice Climbers would hammer the Seal Topis with their mallets, so they changed the Topi into a more fictional creature. In the original Ice Climber, the Yeti Topi or the Seal Topi is relatively harmless and serves only to impede progress by placing blocks of ice over the openings in stages the Ice Climbers would jump through, and in Melee they walk and slide around damaging whoever they bump into.
- Polar Bear: This animal is a bipedal polar pear wearing pink shorts and sunglasses. In Ice Climber it is an uncommon enemy which is potentially deadly because it pounds the ice to force the screen to move upward, and if the Ice Climbers are too far down at the bottom, they will lose a life. As common Melee enemies, they operate just like they did before. They also act like Topis in that they walk around without doing much of anything, but characters bumping into them take more damage, and Polar Bears take more hits before they are KO'ed.
- 25: Icicle Mountain: A synthesized medley of the two primary tunes in the NES game Ice Climber, with the first part being the "Bonus stage music" and the second part being the "Normal stage music". It appears in Infinite Glacier: Icicle Mountain as a primary track.
- 50: Ice Climbers' Victory: The victory fanfare of Ice Climbers is an orchestration of the victory music that occurs in the original Ice Climber when an Ice Climber reaches the top of a stage and manages to jump up and grab onto the talons of the Condor.
Full Trophy List
The Ice Climbers return in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, with little change other than a huge graphical improvement, and a stage not as universally disliked as Icicle Mountain.
- Ice Climbers: Returning again from Super Smash Bros. Melee. Aside from an On-screen Appearance where they drop in from the sky holding onto the Condor and a colossal new Final Smash named Iceberg, nothing much seems to have changed about the mountain climbing duo.
- Summit: A stage that takes place at the summit of Icicle Mountain. As players fight, the chunk of the mountain they're on will break off of the mountain and slide down into the icy waters below. While floating in these waters, a polar bear like in the original game will appear and push the stage down to a level where players may drown if not careful. The fish from Balloon Fight also appears and may eat players, causing an instant KO.
- Vegetables (Ice Climber): An item that appears only on the Summit, food from the mountains of the original game will appear as a healing item, similar to food.
- Ice Climber - A medley of the original Ice Climber game's title screen and main theme; changing tone and pace depending on whether the stage is at the top of the summit, sliding down the mountain, or floating in the ocean. It is the theme of the Summit stage. This song is also played during Ice Climbers' Classic Mode credits.
- Icicle Mountain (Melee) - Taken directly from Melee. It is also used on the Summit stage.
- Ice Climbers' victory theme - Taken from the original Ice Climber, this was the victory fanfare that would play if Popo or Nana completed a bonus level by grabbing the Condor's talons at the end.
- Ice Climber is one of the only universes to have more trophies than stickers.
- The Ice Climber and Metal Gear universes are the only universes to get their only playable character cut.
The Ice Climbers were originally planned to be playable, but were cut out due to the 3DS’s limited engine. They do however have their own trophy.
The Ice Climber theme from Brawl also returns.
- Polar Bear