With the first day of winter a few days away (December 22nd), I thought it would be an excellent opportunity to pick out my top 10 video games which reminded me of the cold season. The rules of eligibility were simple enough:
- One appearance per franchise.
- Must resemble winter in Canada.
Without further delay here is the list I came up with:
#10 – Megaman X
Running through inches of snow while dodging snow balls and destroying maverick reploids. Megaman X was one of the first games I played (other than Mario) which featured a snow level. As icing on the snow themed cake, X fights Chill Penguin who summons blizzards to slam penguins sculpted from ice. Cool. (Pun intended)
#9 – Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes
Taking place in Alaska certainly helps Metal Gear Solid and its remake, Twin Snakes, make its way onto the list. Stuck in Alaska with a blizzard raging in the dead of night, Solid Snake somehow managed survive freezing waters, defeat a Hind and save the world without getting frost bite. Damn that anti-freezing agent in his blood.
#8 – Project Gotham Racing 4
Traffic during snowy conditions in Canada is pretty much the worst; everything goes to a crawl, cars get stuck and traction becomes non-existent. Fortunately, Project Gotham Racing 4 snowy tracks, like Quebec and Nurburgring, demonstrate just how awesome driving in winter conditions could be without the fuss of traffic jams.
#7 – Final Fantasy Series
Final Fantasy XII – Paramina Rift
Final Fantasy VII – Snowboard
Final Fantasy VI – Opening Sequence
Yes, I cheated with this entry since there were a few highlight instances of winter like conditions. I believe every Final Fantasy had some subzero area on the world map, but these three entries were particularly memorable. Final Fantasy VI’s opening theme plays in my head when I push forward through winter storms. Sometimes.
#6 - Super Mario Galaxy
Mario’s 2-D escapades did not feature the best ice or snow levels, but the Italian plumber’s 3-D adventures in Super Mario Galaxy featured some of the best chilled platforming ever. Using the frozen flower enabled Mario to freeze water and create his own “on the fly” rink and ice platforms where he could perform triple axels and skate around like he was on the Rideau Canal.
#5 – Sonic the Hedgehog 3
How awesome is Ice Cap Zone? Fuckin’ awesome. The ingredients for this winter wonderland include:
- Starting the first level on a snowboard weaving through trees,
- Smashing frozen spring boards,
- Being ambushed by buried robotic penguins and
- Being frozen into a block of ice.
One of the finest examples of winter themed levels ever created for the 2-D plane. Ice Cap Zone’s background theme is also one of the most remixed VG songs out there. It’s that good. Unfortunately, it ends way too quickly.
#4 – Donkey Kong Country
As far as 2-D winter wonderlands go, Donkey Kong Country’s World 4 and its barrel blasting through blizzards is number one. Not only is it the most gorgeous 2-D representation of winter, but it also boasts some of the most atmospheric background themes and sound effects for the winter theme. I kid you not, when I was younger, the increasing snowfall in Snow Barrel Blast actually affected my concentration.
As for the other levels? Ice crystal caves and freezing waters cannot keep those primates away. Nor to mention the giant bees, armadillos or vultures. It did not make much sense, but those levels were some of the best snow levels.
#3 – Metroid Prime
Featuring one of the best soundtracks ever, Metroid Prime’s Phendrana Drifts was one hell of an ice world. Missile upgrades encased in ice, enemies with ice breath, a gentle snow fall, ice caves and frozen lakes all add to the frigid theme of this beautiful ice world.
#2 – Crysis
Crysis offers a unique winter experience since it isn’t necessarily winter in Crysis. Aliens have frozen portions of a tropical island and managed to encapsulate entire palm trees in ice. While not your typical winter wonderland, Crysis does a fine job representing the effects of the cold touch of Jack Frost through insanely gorgeous visuals.
#1 – Lost Planet
Surprised? You shouldn’t be since Capcom’s Lost Planet takes place on a frozen rock. Nothing else on this list represents the winter season better than Lost Planet. Knee deep in snow and struggling to keep warm by absorbing pouches of thermal energy dropped by giant alien insects is something every Canadian can relate to. (Replace pouches of thermal energy with Timmy’s coffee.)Disagree? Got more to add? Please comment below!
P.S – Thanks to GameTrailers and the YouTube authors for their uploads.