I recently read Mike Schiller’s first post in his “Ambassdorship” series, a series of blog posts looking at 20 retro Nintendo games “offered by the 3DS Ambassador program” (“The Limits of Nostalgia: Ice Climber”, Unlimited Lives, 6 April 2012). In that post, Schiller discusses his relationship to the 1985 NES game, Ice Climber, a game that he had especially fond memories of playing when he was younger but that he has less appreciation for now, finding that “it’s unremarkable even in an eight-bit context.”
Now, I did own Ice Climber for the NES myself, and I, like Mike, have rather wistful memories of playing the game. At the time (and really now as well), I personally had a preference for video games that were more end-goal oriented, games that offered some sort of narrative resolution as a prize for beating them. For me, the true gems on the system were games like Super Mario Bros., Zelda, and even Mike Tyson’s Punch Out!! as opposed to games like Mario Bros., Popeye, or even the tremendously well scored Spyhunter—all of which were more like endless arcade titles (appropriately enough, given that all of these titles are arcade ports). Nevertheless, Ice Climber is the game that I might rank as my favorite game that lacked an end-goal, that created an arcade-like experience in which the player kept climbing for the sake of climbing and for, of course, the sake of points. Though that was not the only reason that one climbed.