Tuesday, 19 January 2016
Fuck An Ice Level
Now we all know about the sewer level and how much that sucks but that one is fucking obvious. You step into a sewer and you know from the levels entry point that it's going to be a fucking maze with terrible backtracking, stupid level puzzles and crap enemies. The ice level though, while generally a giant stinking pile of shit is a bit less obvious because there do exist good ones. A great example of a highly enjoyable ice stage is the Ice Cap Zone in Sonic 3, an ice level so iconic in gaming that almost everyone and their dog knows the fucking theme for it regardless of if they have played the game or not.
For the most part though, ice levels are only one step above a sewer level when it comes to most games. It's always a terrible excuse to have a shitty slip-sliding mechanic where the level designer to do their best to slide you into an enemy or a pit for an instant kill. If it's not that then it's stupid sliding block puzzles where the blocks will fall into pits and never stay where the fuck you want. Failing that it's stupid crap that involves freezing or defrosting things which usually involves copious amounts of stupid backtracking, the same concept as a level puzzle just with ice instead of levers.
One that's sticking out in my mind right now is the Ice Cavern in Ocarina of Time. It's strange that this one should stick out so much because in terms of difficulty it's not all that bad. However, it has all the things I hate about ice areas. Slippy block puzzles, enemies that screw you with your lack of normal mobility, defrosting puzzles that involve backtracking if you didn't manage your bottles right, the whole shabang. That and at the end of it you get iron boots, which on the N64 version of that game sucked because switching gear in that game was tedious as all hell although it's an issue the 3DS version does not have.
Another middle finger goes to Final Fantasy 10s Cloister of Trails for Shiva. The cloisters were more of a mild annoyance than anything else while you solve baby's first RPG puzzle but the Macalania trail is just fucking dumb. Lots of chances to fuck things up which means you have to reset stuff and getting the destruction sphere in that trail is probably the biggest pain in the dick thing to do in that whole game. I'd rather spend HOURS grinding master/clear spheres to max stats then do that fucking trail.
Unlike the sewer level, I don't think ice levels should be abolished because like I said before there do exist good ice levels. Just if you are going to make an ice level, don't be a fucking asshole about it.