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Sherbert Land - Mario Kart 64«»Up 15Down 2It would be a crime if Mario wasn't on this list. It would probably only be a misdemeanor, but like the obligatory nature of the Ice Level in general, Mario's got to make an appearance on every videogame list ever.
If you're like me and getting a bit older, you'll surely remember dodging flurries in SMB 2, or melting blocks with fireballs in SMB 3. Or maybe you started with Mario 64, and had a devilish time sliding after penguins.
More recent players might have enjoyed the Penguin Suit antics and four player follies of New Super Mario Bros. on the Wii, but most of these stages amount to the variations of the same thing: dodging s**t while you slide around like a maniac!
Mario ice levels are pretty much the definitive examples for the rest of the gaming world. You've gotten used to how everything feels, to the momentum of the character you're controlling, to how they jump, their "weight", all those fine little details that allow you to make those precision leaps that prevent you from constantly pancaking at the bottom of some screen pit. But then it's about halfway through the game (often specifically world 4 for some reason) and in that brief moment between defeating that last boss or clearing that flag, mother nature crapped 12 new layers of cold onto the world like you fed her laxatives made of bitterness.
It's like just getting this far pissed off Walter Sobchek, and now you're entering a world of pain. Everything was nice and easy before, but now the ground has almost no traction and those little sensations that you've spent so long getting a feel for are useless. And does the rest of the level get any easier to compensate? Oh hell no, this is a world of pain. In fact if anything, the difficulty in the platforming often gets a bit tougher, and that lack of traction leading to the "butter shoes" condition you've now come to hate, seems to be taken to account with every tiny platform you've got to land on. A world. Of Pain.
Perhaps I've played too many of these levels over the years, but none of the actual Ice levels in the Mario platformers really stand out. I suppose it's part of the problem that comes along with defining the concept, but everything is just one degree of generic too much to imprint itself on your brain. Look at Mario 64, a great example as there are two perfectly good Ice levels in the game, and neither is objectively "better" than the other. One has that sweet Penguin Slide, the other has a kick-ass Snow-Man Mountain! A lot of these stages just sort of end up canceling each other out! Besides, Mario games in general tend to save their meanest levels for lava zones, and so by comparison, the Ice world usually isn't too bad.
The level that stuck out in my mind though, was Sherbert Land in Mario Kart 64.
This track takes everything that's frustrating about an ice stage, then asks you to deal with it while moving at 60 miles and hour. Plus it's got a nasty lake to fall into and apparently the entire cast of Happy Feet to get in your damn way. Stupid frigging PENGUINS! Plus you're still dealing with the fact you'll be dodging shells and bananas like you just gave an unpopular speech to a gaggle of peasants.
But best of all though, might just be the fact that this was the first time (for me at least) that this misery was SHARED. Somehow hearing someone else sitting next to me lose their s**t as they slid into an arctic oblivion, made my pain bearable. It probably means I'm a bad person, or it just means that I've started to truly learn what the holidays are all about: shared misery.
Also, is it just me, or does Nintendo have a crazy hard-on for Penguins in Ice levels? I mean, you race a Penguin in Mario 64, you dodge them in Mario Kart, you even start wearing a Penguin Suit in New Super Mario Bros. I know the buggers are cute and all, but there are more creatures from the land of ice that aren't Bjork right? I mean you've got . . . polar bears, walruses, uh . . . penguins? Yeah, OK Nintendo, you win.<< PREV 1 of 10 NEXT >>
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