Systems: Arcade, NES
Release Year: 1983 (Arcade), 1985 (NES)
Players: 1-2 Simultaneous
Pretty basic. The Ice Climbers, Popo and Nana, must climb to the top of Icicle Mountain and gather produce pilfered by a pteradactyl. Meanwhile, they must fight Topis, Polar Bears, birds, and other icy hazards.
This game was big around the same time as Donkey Kong and Mario Bros. Unlike those series, however, Ice Climber disappeared once Nintendo entered the console market. A home port of the arcade game was launched with the NES, but after that they were never heard from again (aside from a re-release in Japan's Animal Forest, but that's another story). Up until SSBM, it seemed likely that they would never be seen again. However, their popularity has climbed once again thanks to their appearance in this game. Maybe we'll see more of them soon.
Basic Nintendo arcade formula. Vertically scrolling levels, which must be completed one after the other. The background is monotone black, with colored platforms which are unique depending on their color (red = safe, blue = icy, etc). Enemies appear in pre-determined places, and hinder you as you reach the top. Things appear generally flat. A very low musical score was added to each level, which has little affect on the game. Each level was followed by a bonus round, in which you collected different vegetables and then tried to grab a pteradactyl which guarded the top of the level (and awarded a decent point bonus). Popo and Nana's moves are limited to walk, jump, and pound with their hammers. The jumping mechanics are difficult to control. The climbers can only jump in a vertically straight line, with a small bit of control once you reach the apex of the jump. This can make it difficult to jump from the games many moving platforms. Timing has to be very precise on some jumps.
Whether or not you like Ice Climber will depend on whether or not you like these kinds of games. It will get repetetive, with the only changes from level to level being more difficult and more plentiful enemies appearing successively. One nice feature about Ice Climber is that it has a limited number of levels, unlike Mario Bros., so the game will not go on forever. The NES version (and possibly the arcade version as well) has a level select, so you can quit and then pick up where you left off later.
I recommend trying Ice Climber, especially if you want to know more about them after SSBM. However, don't get tricked into spending $20-$30 on this game at a used game store.