Sunday, June 20, 2010

v2, d100: Random Nintendo Game of the Month: Fire 'n Ice

Last year, I made a crossword puzzle when I got to day 100.

Yeah. Last year was way more fun than this year ;-)

At least the guest blogs are longer this year?

Anyway, here at FOMW, we're celebrating Fathers' Day with a new Random Nintendo Game of the Month!

This month, I'm tackling an adventure/puzzle/fantasy/trippy game called Fire 'n Ice, brought to you by the people at Tecmo (who, of course, are legendary for their football simulation game Tecmo Bowl, in which you can frequently kick field goals while punting on second down).

They story is pretty simple and is clearly an early attempt at Global Warming scaremongering. Here, I copied it down as it scrolled across the screen:

"A long time ago, there was a small ice island far to the north. It was called Coolmint Island, a peaceful island inhabited by the winter fairies. But, one evil wizard named Druidle sent the Flame Monsters to the island. If something isn't done, Coolmint Island will melt away!"

Comment: Druidle? Is that what happens when you take the genetic structure of an evil wizard and some capture it in a sentient dreidel?

Well, as you can expect, the peace-loving fairies of Coolmint Island aren't about to take this lying down. The queen calls a special council (which, according to the animation, included a snowman, two polar bears, a penguin, and I think a baby seal):

"In response to this crisis, the queen of the winter fairies called upon a wizard. She chose..."

You! She chose you! It's going to say she chose you!"

"a novice wizard named Dana."

Gotta say, I did not see that coming. At this point in the prologue, the music shifts from epic and ominous to goofy and clumsy, as a wimpy, nervous-looking kid shows up on the screen. Dana, I guess.

"Dana [Queen speaking], I'll give you ice magic to extinguish the evil Flames. You have been chosen for your wisdom and courage. We trust you, Dana."

Press start

Dorky novice wizard, ice magic, extinguish Jarome Iginla and company to keep the polar ice caps from melting via a necromancerous Hanukkah plaything. Got it.

You hit start, and you get two children asking their grandmother to tell them a story. She asks if they want to hear the one about Dana, and you get a glimpse of their loving, cheerful faces as the "New game/continue/save/exit" menu shows up. This is encouraging. This means your exploits as the nerdy novice magician were clearly successful, because Coolmint Island appears to have survived at least three further generations. So no matter how many times you screw up, ultimately, somehow, Dana still wins. So from the starting gun, the pressure's off.

Now for the shocking part: this game is kinda fun! If you can keep from going insane from the music, and once you figure out how exactly your ice magic works (and how Coolmint Island physics operate), you can pretty easily get lost playing this game for a few hours. There are ten worlds, and each world has ten puzzles. You've got unlimited chances, and you can restart a puzzle in the middle if you realize you're stuck. It isn't a difficult game, but it isn't so elementary there's no point in playing past the first few levels. I only played until halfway through world 2, but I could probably have kept going.

Of course, this day in age this caliber of game is matched fairly well by some of the things you can find on online flash game arcades, but for the classic NES I can see this being a great weekend rental.

If you're bored, you could do worse than Fire 'n Ice. You could do better. But you could do worse.