With the so-called “Beast from the East” in full flow, it got me thinking about snow in games!
Generally I dread an ice level because at best it can mean some lazy level design (“let’s just make it the same but put white textures on everything!”) or at worst, some bad game mechanics (“let’s just make everything slippery!”).
However, sometimes snow arrives in a game and it puts a big fat smile on my face. Certainly these days, games are a bit more ambitious in their handling of this element.
Here is my Wob Wob Rob Top 5 icy highlights.
DONKEY KONG COUNTRY (SNES)
Entering Snow Barrel Blast introduces the customary ice world, a staple of any old school platformer. The wonderful thing about this level is the sun is out at the beginning, then over the course of the level snow begins to fall, then gradually swells into a full on blizzard. Such a simple touch, but highly effective!
Here Jordan Underneath breaks down his love of this level and snow levels in general!
BANJO KAZOOIE (N64)
While Mario 64 has some fine ice levels, I picked Banjo Kazooie’s Freezeezy Peak because of how jam packed with surprises it is, including a humungous snowman right in the middle of the map that’s just begging to be scaled. All in all, it’s a proper good frolic in the snow!
Here's a great little speedrun from packattack04082 who has a ton of great walkthrough content on their channel.
SSX TRICKY (PS2/Gamecube)
I defy anyone to play this game and not have fun. There are many good snowboarding games but for me, SSX Tricky represents perfection. There's nothing better than cutting through the snow on a perfect line at top speed whilst performing gnarly tricks to a banging soundtrack. And of course, couldn’t have happened without a whole lot of snow!
Check out Gaming Jay's video who is trying to play 1001 Video Games Before He Dies!!!
CALL OF DUTY: MODERN WARFARE 2
‘Cliffhanger’ is one of COD: Modern Warfare 2’s standout levels. It really uses the environment to ramp up the excitement. Whether you're using the blizzard to your stealthy advantage, or hurling down a mountain in a high speed snowmobile chase of ridiculous proportions, the level designers have really had a lot of fun with the location. I enjoy COD single player campaigns best when there are loads of fantastic set pieces like this.
Check out Dino5500's brilliant Lego version of the same level!
HORIZON ZERO DAWN (PS4)
There are many cultures based in the harsh snowscapes of Horizon Zero Dawn, but it’s when you scale the mountains and face gale force snow storms where you really get a sense of the cold and the hostility of the environment. Aloy’s hair flails around uncontrollably and snow particles chaotically fly around, but there are no mechanics to slow down your character’s speed and grace of movement. Perfect!
Here, Welmosca highlights the absolute beauty of Horizon's snow graphics.
What’s your favourite snow level? Do let me know!
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