Gamer's Piece: These games are snow joke
Published: Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 22:02
After this past weekend’s snowstorm took Connecticut out of commission for a few days, there was nothing to do but take in the beautiful scenery. Oh, and there was plenty of shoveling. But the idyllic wintery scene thrown upon the landscape this weekend reminded me of how wonderful winter can be when used as a theme in pretty much any medium, games included. In what better way can a senior pay reverence to Jay Hickey than writing a very subjective list of gaming’s best moments in the ice and snow?
Since its inception as a Playstation 2 launch title, the “SSX” franchise has been a reliable source of wintery fun across two generations and at least six different consoles. The recent reboot, released in late-Feb. 2012, was a visually spectacular display of how advanced the series’ giant mountains had become. The ridiculous exuberance of “SSX Tricky,” the best game in the franchise, is a special source of wintery bliss with its ridiculously fun powerup system and cartoony approach to the sport.
Cool, Cool Mountain
The fourth level of “Super Mario 64,” with its iconic music alone, belongs on this list not just due to its surprisingly large, perfectly-laid-out mountainside of a seven-star course but its true appreciation for winter sports. “Slip Slidin’ Away” introduced Mario to surviving the sliding course hidden inside the level’s hilltop cabin, and “Big Penguin Race” immediately challenged its players to use their survival skills in order to defeat the mountain’s racing champion. “Lil Penguin Lost” taught patience and exploration as its endurance run across the level was much like a virtual Iditarod. Even snowball fights get a shout-out in “Snowman’s Lost His Head.”
Oh, the hours upon hours I poured into a personal favorite map from the first true experience of the Xbox 360, “Halo 3.” Its small size and excellent attention to detail in design made it an ideal pick whether someone wanted an online match, a six-person bout over LAN or a two-person splitscreen deathmatch. Let’s not forget the stark white icy backdrop, made especially striking when contrasted with the gallons of blood pouring onto it from legions of Spartans and Elites.
That Freaking Yeti
No matter how far you managed to progress down the ski hill in “SkiFree,” freeware included with a ton of computers back in the ‘90s, eventually a Yeti would begin to chase you down the hill, overtaking and devouring your poor sporting enthusiast and forcing you to start over. That unforgettable, traumatizing-for-small-children cherry landed on top of one of the best freeware games of the ‘90s (high praise, he said sarcastically). Of course, a decade and a half later, it turns out that pressing F made the game run twice as fast, meaning the Yeti was actually escapable all along.