Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Fact of the Day: Why the Ice Climbers Climb Ice

Ice Climber is a game for the NES released in 1984 made popular by the appearance of the protagonist and his sister, Popo and Nana, in the 2001 game Super Smash Bros. Melee. Ice Climber occupies one of the special societal ranks as a classic Nintendo arcade-style game, a position it shares with more well-known favorites Excitebike and Balloon Fight. While most gamers are now familiar with the heroes and mechanics of their gameplay, there are few who know exactly why the Ice Climbers are climbing a mountain decorated with colorful bits of vegetable.

There's actually a reason for this. Ice Climber, unusual for an early Nintendo game, actually has some semblance of a plot. You see, there is one iconic foe that battles the duo at the top of every mountain directly responsible for sending the Eskimo pair on their careless climb. Known only as The Condor, this avian adversary isn't just a savage beast, but an evil bandit who has stolen the Ice Climbers' crops.

The food and the bird might seem to be mere gameplay elements, but in reality they help convey one of the earliest stories in video game history.

Good on you, pal.

Even though he's one of the most minor characters to ever play a role in a Nintendo game, even less recognized than his swimsuit clad minions, the Condor is one of my all-time favorite video game villains. There's just something appealing about his character design. All wicked and pointy and sinister, yet just a simple bird. If I could pick any retro villain to appear in another Super Smash Bros. title, Condor would soar right to the top.

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