Six Wonderful Winter Levels

It’s that beautifully chilly time of year where you can’t go anywhere without a jacket. Winter, love it or hate it there are some superb winter themed levels that have been created over the years. These levels are so cold they make you reach for the heating switch and make a cup of cocoa.

Gathered from all generations of consoles here are what I believe to be the best winter levels available today. These can be iconic levels that have stood the test of time or new additions to the winter wonderland catalog that will surely be around for years to come. There may be some cold feet, but I promise there is no need for concern. So without further ado let’s begin.

 

Hoth – Star Wars: Battlefront

Still fresh in our minds. This year EA Dice manged to recreate the universe of Star Wars in glorious HD. Regardless what you think of the actual game itself, it’s impossible to admire how the planet look. None is more mesmerizing than Hoth. The snow drenched world is a marvel to behold throwing in a battle against AT-AT Walkers rockets this encounter to a whole new level.

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Cool Cool Mountain – Super Mario 64

Ice slides, Penguin racing and red coin collecting. What’s not to like? It’s rare to find a level that excesses so much fun. Cool Cool Mountain was one of the top stand-out levels from Mario’s first 3D outing. Nearly twenty years later the level still shines just as much.

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Mountaineering – Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

Uncharted is known for it’s Hollywood-esque show pieces, yet Nathan Drake’s scouring of an icy mountain in Nepal is magnificent to say the least. Fondly remembered by fans of the series this “mountaineering” expedition brought something new to the series changing what the word exploration means. Horror elements were all of a sudden critical to this stage as tension rises the more you climb. The arctic chill is a new presence never fully being realised until now.  This all leading up to the impact of a moving shadow and the reveal of an ancient beast ready to tear Drake limb from limb…Tenzin the Sherpa is pretty awesome too.

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Freezeflame Galaxy – Super Mario Galaxy 

So yes this could be considered slightly cheating, but you cannot deny how beautifully tranquil this galaxy is. The combination of ice and fire creates something that had not been seen before. Skating round the molten core, Leaping through the air lets Mario twirl acrobatically showing his graceful side. One of the most stunning galaxies in the game and one of the most unexpected.

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Freezeaky Peak – Banjo-Kazooie

Christmas trees with singing lights, A fifty foot snowman, present greedy cubs and an absent father all make up this one of a kind level. Rare delivered a 3D outing still fondly remembered today, so there is no shock that Freezeaky Peak makes this list and there should be no doubt that it will continue to appear on lists like this for decades to come.

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Mario Kart: Double Dash – Sherbet Land 

What can I say, Nintendo do Winter best. Straight out of Mario Kart: Double Dash we have the the fantastically frozen Sherbet Land. Encountering Shy Guys skating on a frozen lake peppered with potholes before driving down an igloo tunnel makes this course one of the most re-playable. Oh and how could I forget the catchy soundtrack that mimics exactly what the track represents. No wonder it was revitalized for the Wii version.

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So there you have six wonderful winter levels to get your teeth into over the holiday season. What winter levels do you think are great? Leave us a comment below to tell us why. Anyway you better get inside before you catch a chill.

Happy Holidays from Vgamerz.com

 

The VGamerZ Monster Files: The Boos (Super Mario)

Super Mario

Oh yes indeed. Everybody knows these cheeky buggers. They’re gaming’s most adorable ghosts, with their hiding-faces-in-their-hands-like-a-three-year-old shenanigans. The last thing you’d ever expect to KILL YOU RIGHT IN THE FACE.

Don’t turn your back on them!

The Boos made their first appearance in Super Mario Bros. 3. Back then, their official name was the puntacular ‘Boo Diddleys,’ and they’d dwell in the dark levels of World 8. From this inaugural encounter, all of the Boos’ trademarks were in place: they hide like big girls when you look at them, they careen murdererously at your face when you don’t, they’re pretty well impervious to attack, and they’re just all-round ghostly pains in our big ol’ Italian butts.

Later, with Super Mario World, they learnt a new trick. There, they were found within not-so-fiendish Ghost Houses. These twisty-turny, deceptive levels were packed with hidden doors and dead ends, and more of those freaking Boos. The little buggers loved to fly around your cranium in formation, safe in the knowledge that your standard jump right on their darn faces combat tactics wouldn’t work at all.

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The plucky poltergeists’ finest hour came in Luigi’s Mansion. This Gamecube launch title saw them dethrone the mighty Bowser as antagonist, and their king kidnap Mario himself. The underlings were safely ensconsed in the mansion’s rooms, detectable only by use of Luigi’s radar attatchment. They couldn’t fight as such, but did have a knack for tricking you and trying to blow your dumbass moustache off with a Boo-shaped bomb.

On ocassion, the Boos will stop their dastardly antics and join the rest of the Mushroom Kingdom in some sports. They’ve appeared in such spin-offs as Mario Hoops 3-on-3, Dance Dance Revolution: Mario Mix and Mario Tennis. In a sneakier capacity, of course, such as the Tricky class of tennis player (able to bend the ball like a racquet-flailing David Beckham), but they are there.

The devious dudes have become more iconic, and more central to the series, over the years. In the Mario Galaxy games, our hero is given a new power-up which transforms him into one. As you nonchalantly cruise through that first wall as Boo Mario, you realise how awesome it is to be one of those tiny ghosts.

Is it Really the Best Game Ever? #2: Super Mario Galaxy

Super Mario

In the last installment, we admired The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. There were collective oohs and aahs, like super mario, we were attending some kind of nerdly gaming fireworks display. Because Ocarina is just that beloved by players and critics.

Not all of them, naturally. It’s impossible to please everybody in any walk of life, perhaps especially the gamertastic (you know the philosophy of the Internet, I whine, therefore I am, after all). But we’re looking at the most celebrated games here, and the best-reviewed of all time –according to gamerankings.com– is Super Mario Galaxy.

The hype was strong with this one, there’s no doubt about that. This much ballyhooed Wii release was Mario’s first for the system, and it had the full force of the franchise to live up to. Super Mario 64 was among the most prestigious platformers ever made, and was the game that thrust our ol’ moustache buddy into the third dimension. But hell, that’s a classic for another day. All we’re concerned with just now is: how do you top that?

The N64 launch game added a liberating sense of scale and freedom, with its big ol’ mountain slides and vast castle hub. The Gamecube’s Super Mario Sunshine was quite the curve ball, sending us a-platformin’ across the verdant tropical paradise of Isle Delfino. Thinking big has been the key for the series’ designers.

And what’s even bigger, more ambitious, than these huge worlds? Outer darn space, that’s what. Because if a world is vast, a galaxy must be vast..erer.

Super Mario Galaxy 2

Wasn’t this a sight during the previews/screenshot/sneak peeks phase? Prior to its release in November 2007, there was a lot of anticipation about this odd new direction Mario was taking. The Mushroom Kingdom was nowhere to be seen. The hub would be the Comet Observatory, from which we would transported to planets, moons and satellites across the cosmos. It was all shiny and new and exciting.

After all, Mario has only rudimentary knowledge of space travel. It isn’t his domain at all, as the franchise hasn’t really ventured into that area before. Beyond the fleeting Space Zone in Super Mario Land 2: Six Golden Golden Coins, that is. You would think it’d be an idea at odds with the games’ legendarily brightly coloured, toon-tinged funtimes. The endless black bleaky blackness of space is an odd fit in this vibrant cartoon world.

But wow, does that juxtaposition work. It’s rather a gimmicky concept, and running across those rotate-y planets and asteroids is a strange feeling at first. But then you’ll encounter the giant goombas on the supersized world, or the thwomps, and you’ll wonder why they didn’t think of this before. As is the case with the other 3D games in the series, there are no ‘levels’ as such. Instead, you are exploring the same locations with a different objective, and this is the key to Galaxy’s success.

Whatever you may think of Super Mario, the quality of its platformery –because that’s a thing– is pretty well unrivalled. As the genre goes, they are always polished to a delightfully shiny shine. What Galaxy did was literally take this to a place the series had never been before, and try to enhance that sense of wonderment, grandeur, freedom and plain fun the mascot stands for.

It will only take your first joyful journey on a Launch Star to see that they succeeded.