Top 10 Greatest Snow Levels in Video Game History Video Games
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Top 10 Greatest Snow Levels in Video Game History

List Criteria: Upvote your favorite snow level

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What is it about the Ice Level? Along with a level set in an active volcano, it seems that almost every game just needs to have a portion set at the north freaking pole. And they're always frustrating. The ground wants you to slip and break a hip, a blizzard pushes against you, or maybe the snow clouds your vision. Something is going to come along and make it a pain in the ass to get through the bitched. Yet, subconsciously I think we all get it. Since they're usually evil, the best Ice Levels are often some of the worst, at least for your sanity. So just in time for "that time of the year" when we'll be joining our video game protagonists in freezing our feet off, enjoy some of the best/worst ice levels in gaming!

I figured some ground rules were in order so . . .
1) It had to be a level in a game that otherwise has diverse settings for stages. If the entire game is set on the Ice, it seemed too much, so no Lost Planet, Ice Climbers, Snow Kids, Shadow Moses Island or The Scott Pilgrim Game. Yeah there are some good games set in snow banks, but the idea of the "Ice Level" is actually kind of lost when it isn't countered by the other variations in temperature we all love to see.
2) Some actual effect of the ice has to be in effect. Plenty of games can just swap in a new texture from level to level without actually changing the feel of the world. At least at one point, the effect of the cold must be apparent.
3) That's pretty much it really.

But if you want to see even more Ice Levels, these guys have apparently been trying to turn stuff like this list into a true holiday tradition!

So what are the greatest snow levels in video game history? That's up to you to decide!

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    Sherbert Land - Mario Kart 64

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    It would be a crime (probably a misdemeanor) if Mario wasn't on this list. Like the obligatory nature of the Ice Level in general, Mario's got to make an appearance on every video game list ever.

    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. 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 dropped 12 new layers of cold onto the world like you fed her laxatives made of bitterness.

    It's as if 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 complete? 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.

    None of the actual ice levels in the Mario platforms really stand out, likely 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 an 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! And, 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 might just be the fact that this was the first time that this misery was SHARED. Somehow, hearing someone else sitting next to you lose their s**t as they slid into an arctic oblivion, made the pain bearable.

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