This morning I awoke to sheer terror. Out my window I saw it: the first landings of an enemy fleet set to invade every corner and cover every surface with its icy touch. Yes, dear readers, it was snowing. Now, being from the Great White North, snow was obviously a big part of my life growing up. Come December, I’m usually at peace with that white wonderland surrounding me; in fact, winter is actually my favorite season (for some reason I just always dread the first snowfall…). That being said, sometimes it’s just too damn cold to go out and play in the snow, so why not stay inside and play in the snow? Here are our picks for the top 10 snow levels in gaming.
10 – Chill Penguin (Mega Man X)
Let’s get the snowball rolling with one of the best snow levels from one of the best SNES games out there. Mega Man X brought the Blue Bomber into the 16-bit era with difficult, edgier gameplay. After a brief intro level, you are greeted by the familiar level-select screen. While you have eight options to choose from, everyone knows that Chill Penguin’s lair should be your first stop. Not only do you get the awesome Dash Legs, but you also get to bust robot-butt to one of the sweetest 16-bit tracks ever.
9 – Ice Cap Zone (Sonic the Hedgehog 3)
Probably named after every Canadian’s favorite icy treat, the Ice Cap Zone from Sonic the Hedgehog 3 opened with an awesome snowboard sprint down an avalanche and ended with a high-speed run through icy caves. It’s one of the more memorable zones from a game that is pretty much all memorable zones.
8 – Icecrown Citadel (World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King)
The final raid from Wrath of the Lich King took our brave warriors to the heart of Northrend to battle Arthas himself. After assembling a team of dozens of various classes and roles, the multi-staged battle would take place atop the icy throne. What culminated was the one of the most epic battles and major storylines in the expansive Warcraft lore.
7 – Cliffhanger (Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2)
If there is one thing that the Call of Duty series is known for, it’s white knuckle action sequences. Nowhere is this more evident than in Modern Warfare 2‘s Cliffhanger level. What starts out as a stealthy entrance into an enemy base soon breaks down into a fever pitched escape through the Siberian tundra… on snowmobiles!
6 – Battle of Hoth (Star Wars: Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike)
While every game in the Rogue Squadron series (please make more of these!) have featured a level based on the iconic battle from Empire Strikes Back, the best was saved for last. You are placed in the boots of Luke Skywalker right after his Snowspeeder is downed, and you have to fight your way back to Echo Base. Along the way you will take down AT-ATs with your lightsaber, battle some Stormtroopers, and launch into an epic aerial battle with what seems to be hundreds of TIE fighters.
5 – A Rock and a Hard Place (Uncharted 2: Among Thieves)
When it came time to follow up on of the PlayStation 3′s best launch titles, the gang at Naughty Dog went big with Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. While the whole game is extremely memorable, the opening level that sees Nathan Drake trudging through the Nepalese mountains is to this day the most remembered from that game.
4 – Snow Barrel Blast (Donkey Kong Country)
Conversationally known as ‘that level where you can’t see anything’, Snow Barrel Blast is nothing short of a (snicker) blast to play. What starts off as a nice jaunt through Donkey Kong Island’s mountain region soon downgrades into a Nunavut-class blizzard where you’ll have to squint to see what’s ahead of you. What’s worse (or better, if you’re into that sorta thing) is that the platforming and barrel hopping just gets faster and faster as the snow falls harder and harder.
3 – Cool Cool Mountain (Super Mario 64)
While today Cool Cool Mountain is more remembered as ‘that one with the penguin’, it still stands as one of the best levels offered in Super Mario 64. Apart from giant mama penguins, you also had an awesome ice slide, a giant snowman, and a sky lift! Add to that all the hidden secrets and opportunities to show off your Mario platforming skills, and you have yourself a winter wonderland that won’t freeze your nose off…and yeah, you can throw baby penguins off a cliff.
2 – Silent Hill (Silent Hill)
Ah man, it’s snowing… again! It’s probably the least of your concerns if you’re visiting Silent Hill, a town where the darkest recesses of your imagination come to life to torment you. All you have to help you survive is a small weapon and your wits, while all the while a gentle snow falls, only adding to the feeling of isolation and despair.
1 – Snowpeak Ruins (The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess)
In all honestly we could probably make a top 10 with only snow dungeons from the Zelda series, but at the end of the day the absolute best was the Snowpeak Ruins from Twilight Princess. Less of a dungeon and more of a giant, fully stocked manor to explore filled with all the amenities of a home, this snowy level feels different than a typical Zelda dungeon. In addition to that, the dungeon also features one of the best items in Zelda history AND some of the best boss battle music…ever.
So do you like to play in the virtual snow or would you rather warm up next to the digital fireplace? Let us know in the comments below!