Thursday, December 24, 2009

Top Ten Winter Wonderlands of Gaming

'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house,
SuperPhillip was writing a story with the click of his mouse.
The story was written with much love indeed,
In hopes of faithful viewers sitting down to read.
Winter wonderlands is what this article is about,
If you enjoy it, give your old friend SuperPhillip a shout!

10) Shadow Moses Island (Metal Gear Solid - PS1/Metal Gear Solid 4 - PS3)

I still have not played MGS4, and after seeing what happens, I'm not sure I want to. Regardless, Shadow Moses Island is an isolated military compound set in the Arctic Circle, so you know winter is always just around the corner there! I remember vividly sneaking around the wintry base, taking down bad guys with stealth-based attacks, Snake's feet crunching through the snow, and having to wipe his feet off before entering inside the base. An awesome area in the Metal Gear Solid universe, and a great way to start of our countdown.

9) Severnaya Surface (Goldeneye 007 - N64)

I recently reviewed Goldeneye 007 after playing it for the first time, so nostalgia isn't the case with the pick. The Surface level is chock full of land to cover, cabins to enter, bad guys to blast away, and snipers to watch out for. The entire area seems so desolate as it should be being in the middle of snow-capped Russia. From the winter clothing of Bond and the bad guys to the soothing soundtrack accompanying the level, Severnaya is definitely one great winter wonderland.

8) Gorilla Glacier (Donkey Kong Country - SNES)

Gorilla Glacier is the fourth world of the original Donkey Kong Country. It's a snowbound land with large snowfall, slippery cavern floors, icy ropes to climb on, and memorable music to boot. This choice is not entirely nostalgia as it still holds up well today. My favorite levels in Gorilla Glacier have to be when you're inside a colorful crystal cavern with ice on the ropes, floor, and probably off the Kongs' noses!

7) Snowpeak (The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess - Wii, GCN)

If you enjoy snow, Snowpeak from Twilight Princess will give you all you can stand... and then some! Players needed to use wolf Link to sniff his way through the area, or else they'd get lost in a hurry. By far the coolest portion of Snowpeak is the snowboarding mini-game where players race down the mountain to Snowpeak Ruins in order to win a piece of heart. It's such a chilling section of Hyrule that your teeth may start chattering just by looking at it!

6) Freezeflame Galaxy (Super Mario Galaxy - Wii)

The Freezeflame Galaxy is so cool. Perhaps cold is a better word! Regardless, being able to become Ice Mario and skate on icy water was definitely one of the highlights of this galaxy. Another would have to be leaping off the summit of the area's mountain in order to grab the last two purple coins. Everything from the environment to the memorable music gives off a wintry feel. The ice side of Freezeflame Galaxy is but one half of the level. There's an entire fiery side to traverse!

5) Ice Cap Zone (Sonic the Hedgehog 3 - GEN)

Who could forget the first part of Act I? Sonic snowboards down the alpine mountain with an avalanche following him. This was the very first snow zone in a Sonic game, and boy, did they nail it. Wonderful level design, fun loop-de-loops, and beautiful backgrounds makes the Ice Cap Zone not only one of the best winter wonderlands, but also one of the best Sonic zones period!

4) Frosty Village (Diddy Kong Racing - N64)

Frosty Village takes place in a village ready for Christmas full of seasonal lights, pine trees, following snow, and icy roadways. This race was for all vehicles: karts, hovercrafts, and planes. Frosty Village remains close to my heart with its round turns, icy lakes, and undulating roads. However, it's not my favorite winter wonderland in a racing game.

3) Sherbet Land (Mario Kart: Double Dash!! - GCN)

No, that title goes to Mario Kart: Double Dash's version of Sherbet Land. Compared to the icy lake that was the main feature of the Nintendo 64's version, Double Dash's is much more homely. There's festive flags hung around, Shy Guys skating on the ice, freezies from Mario Bros. resting on the track, freezing anything they touch, and a cascade of snow falling to the ground.

2) Phendrana Drifts (Metroid Prime - GCN)

If there's one thing Retro Studios knows how to do, it's creating the perfect ambiance. They do just that with Metroid Prime. One area in particular is a favorite of many Metroid fans-- Phendrana Drifts. It's so well put together, you almost feel as if you're starting to shiver with how cold it looks. There's plenty of ways this is done by the icy architecture to the mountainous volume of snowfall. It all creates this wintry look to it. It's absolutely breath-taking.

1) Freezeey Peak (Banjo-Kazooie - N64)

My number one winter wonderland in gaming comes to us from Banjo-Kazooie. It's Freezeey Peak. In the center of the level rests a skyscraper-sized snowman statue that has its own top hat, pipe, and scarf to sled down on. There's also evil snowmen around the base of the statue who love chucking snowballs at the bear and bird. There's even a Christmas tree that needs lighting up by Banjo! Add in some festive music, cool visuals, a Christmas vibe, and you have my top pick in gaming's winter wonderlands.

There you have it, that was it
I'd love to go on, but I have to quit.
Merry Christmas to you and all that you know,
Perhaps I'll try giving a new article tomorrow a go!

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