Smashing BrosOne day, a letter arrived.

Popo and Nana had been living together for some time now. For seventeen years, it had been the same: every winter the vulture would descend upon the nearby village, and every winter Popo and Nana would quest up the mountain to retrieve their stolen foodstuffs. Even though they were literal saviors, the couple had to live far from the village. They learned a long time ago that the mountain was all they could understand, and the conflict of man versus beast was something wholly unknown to the simple folk that farmed their eggplants. The duo was celebrated and isolated for the same reason, and they understood that this would simply be their lives for many winters to come.

So the appearance of mail was a complete surprise. It was a plain white envelope with a red, circular seal. Nana and Popo stared at it for a moment. While “fan mail” had been common in the early days, accolades and congratulatory notes had become an extreme rarity in recent years. They did their job. It was expected. They no more anticipated fresh praises than the burly fellow that takes your trash away. But this… There was a weight to this. This felt like something important. Something that would change their lives forever. Something that, like those long absent tributes, would convey just how important they were to not only the local village, but also the world at large.

“You are invited to participate in the 2001 Super Smash Bros Melee.”

The inducement was a simple sheet of paper, and a separate note that indicated where to go. There were no instructions on what to bring, nor was there any explanation of what this “Melee” was to contain. Was this something that was normal in other regions? Were they supposed to intrinsically understand the gravity of what they had just received? Whatever the case, the event was apparently scheduled for November, so they would be able to visit and be back before the first snow. Nana even commented that this might be some gathering for people in the same profession. But Popo was confused. Was there some manner of union for anybody who salvaged vegetables from avian creatures?

But this “Melee” was not about unions. This was… this was something altogether different.

Who likes this?Nana and Popo, on some base level, always saw themselves as blue-collar exterminators. They were handling vermin, right? Some creature that ruined your food? So it was comforting when the first person they met was a plumber. He seemed amicable enough, and when they met his brother a few moments later, everything was going smoothly. A “pair”. They understood that. Shortly thereafter, Nana was pleased to meet a woman named Peach, who seemed to be Mario’s partner, even if her dress portrayed a woman that was not exactly involved in the same profession. Or maybe she handled the clerical work while Mario was cleaning out pipes? That would make sense, right? Split the duties? Nana and Popo had talked about doing something like that back in the old days, but then they decided to simply use some spoils to pay an accountant. However, apparently something like that was the style of the time, as they then met Peach’s friend, Zelda, who had a partner by the name of Link. And, once again, the woman was dressed for an ornate ball, while the man was dressed for… Well, Nana and Popo both didn’t quite know what to make of Link, but that sword did look like it was for slaying. They were still trying to figure out the exact point of this Melee, though everyone involved seemed nice enough. This was probably going to be…

And then they met the gorilla.

Let’s make one thing clear here: Nana and Popo came from a secluded village, and in said village, they were the finest physical specimens their region had ever produced. Give or take the town cow hurler (local tradition), they were inarguably the strongest, quickest, and most fearless people to ever live near a glacier. Their ability to heft hammers effortlessly, or scale entire mountains in moments, it was all thanks to a combination of years of training and beneficial genetics. Other cultures may worship at the altar of overly muscled men walking around in bikinis, but to anyone that had known Nana and Popo for years, they were the undisputed apex.

Sucks to be youAnd here was a gorilla that was easily four times their size. He was wearing a tie. And, while his various grunts were ostensibly unintelligible, he offered a paw forward in greeting. Without thinking, Popo took that gigantic mitt, and shook. The hulking gorilla seemed pleased, and then sauntered off to share a banana with some red and yellow robot thing.

That would probably be about the exact moment that the duo started reflexively sweating through their parkas.

What was going to happen here? Why were these eclectic people all gathered here? Wait. Scratch that. Can a gorilla really be considered people? What is that pink blob over there? There are high pitched squeaks coming out of… It? Her? Them? But every once in a while it spontaneously generates a hat? What is that about? And.. is that another pink ball next to it? Wearing a bow? Is this some hitherto unknown genus? And why are they all cooing over… My God… That is a rat and some manner of rat baby. It could stand face to face with our ice heroes, but it is yellow, and obviously a rodent. And it brought its kid? That… It… has a child? Wearing goggles? Is this some kind of horrible cross-species breeding center? Is that the Melee!?

The plumber had always been a good host, and he quickly noticed the newcomers were in distress. He spoke to them through a thick accent (or were they just foreign to the local vernacular?), but what he said was comforting. This wasn’t some kind of… whatever bizarre scenario Popo had imagined. No, this was a friendly competition between people that had excelled in their own chosen fields. Mario pointed to a spiked turtle monster (!), and claimed that much of this “game” came together because the plumber and the turtle found they could have a good time racing go-karts. They had tried other sports together (Nana mentally noted that “go-karting” was not a sport, so claims that they all played golf together was probably nothing greater than a round of mini-golf), and now they were trying out this tournament thing with even more entrants. Apparently the red-headed fellow in the corner was an adversary of the plumber’s girlfriend’s friend (what was her name? Zoey?), and that creature that appeared to be a mutant kangaroo was a rival to the rodent. But they were all going to cooperate and have a good time today at this contest. Popo asked if they were supposed to invite their own antagonist, or if they were going to have to compete against each other (Nana shuddered at the mere suggestion), but the man in overalls said that was unnecessary. “The Ice Climbers” had been known far and wide for years, and they were invited simply to represent their own unique régime. Oh, and the hammers would help, too.

“Help with what?” Nana asked.

“Oh, that’s a-simple. We’re all gonna smash-a the crap outta each other.”

Popo and Nana again returned to their state of panic. They had always considered themselves warriors, but they only warred against the winter. Sucks to be you, againTheir opponents were hairy jerks, icicles, and the occasional polar bear. They fought their way up an infinite number of mountains, but never fought another human. Or turtle. Or whatever that robot thing was all about. And… sure… there may have been a minor resemblance between the pink creature and those fuzzy Topis (something about being a ball with limbs seemed to indicate a common genetic ancestor), but… “Puyo” there seemed nice. Could they do this? Nana and Popo would never! These hammers were for one thing only! Saving the local village’s foodstuffs, and banishing the terrible birds that hounded them their entire lives. There were no condors here! There was no way they could ever…

Nana and Popo’s synchronized train of doubts was interrupted by another newcomer.

“Hey, I saw all you guys talking, figured I’d say hi…”

Nana and Popo’s skepticism turned to seething rage.

“The name’s Falco Lombardi. I rule the sky. Who are you two?”

Nana and Popo decided they were going to like it here.

SBC #36 Ice Climbers & Ice Climber (Arcade)

Ice Climbers in Super Smash Bros Ultimate

The Ice Bros

  • They any Good? The original duo is back, baby! The Ice Climbers make up for being the characters nobody asked for by possessing excellent ice breath and hammer spinning. The trade-off is that if you do not recover from a hit properly and lose a climber, you have to be sad for the rest of the round. Personally, I understand the Ice Climbers can be very effective if used in tandem, but I resent having to rely on an AI partner for any reason.
  • That final smash work? Summoning the glacier is an effective way to ruin everyone’s day on most stages. I’ve never been certain what I am supposed to do “during” the attack, though. The Ice Climbers are trying to survive just like everybody else.
  • The background work? All we have now is Summit, since the original Ice Climber scrolling stage was deemed too terrible to ever be seen again. The transformations between different configurations get confusing for being an otherwise simple stage. Maybe that is a good thing? Just don’t accidentally drown in a complete lack of water.
  • Classic Mode: Duos for Days. It’s a battle against buddies! Are Ken and Ryu a pair like Donkey and Diddy Kong? Villager and Isabelle, Link and Zelda, and particularly Pit and Palutena are very distinctly not equals. At least the final hands make a perfect pair.
  • First Appearance: Ice Climbers were similar all the way back in Melee, but the buddy AI has really shown improvement over the years. That thing has no sense of self-preservation! Nana just stood there next to an electrode!
  • Smash Trivia: The Ice Climbers did not appear in Super Smash Bros. 4 because they were attending a funeral. They won’t say who the funeral was for, but it was probably one of the dudes from Advance Wars.
  • Sweet parkas

  • Amiibo Corner: Two for the price of one, complete with a little “ice flow” to hold Nana up above Popo. You can really see how the Ultimate line of amiibos learned from earlier models that had to rely on piss pillars. And the detailing on those hammers! And the cleats! Great amiibo all around.
  • Does Smash Bros Remember Today’s Game? It was the saddest thing in the world when the Ice Climbers’ opponents were still skulking around Smash 4’s adventure modes, but the duo was nowhere to be seen. Regardless! They are here now, and they have a stage, obstacles, and trophies to spare. They just need an assist trophy, and they’ll be all set.

Ice Climbers in Ice Climber (Arcade)

  • Now I'm hungrySystem: Well, arcade seems like a good bet here. It is also available as a separate-from-the-free-service purchasable downloadable title on the Nintendo Switch. If you buy this, you are an Ice Climbers Superfan.
  • Number of players: This game is remembered for duos, so we’ve got two players.
  • Maybe actually talk about the game for a second: Look, we had to revisit Ice Climber fanfiction again, because there is just nothing to talk about here. You climb a mountain! You bowl over some randos. You do it all again over and over again. The arcade edition has some differences from the NES version, but… man. Nintendo should release Ice Climber 99 just to do something with the franchise.
  • Favorite Ice Climber Vegetable: Still potato.
  • It gets better: The arcade edition has a built-in level select, presumably to entice quarter munching in a situation where you would inevitably not make it past the first screen. Unfortunately, the levels seem to be arranged arbitrarily, and the second stage already mucks everything up with conveyer belts. So, yeah, if you are in an arcade, you could be playing literally anything else to find happiness.
  • Say something nice: It’s kind of cool that the timer follows you along the screen like an object. That is neat.
  • Back to actually talking about the game: Sometimes you will respawn into death almost immediately. The Ice Climbers know a world completely devoid of mercy.
  • What is even happening hereDid you know? The arcade version has dip switches that can make the game significantly easier than its NES counterpart. Being able to modify how quickly the bear comes to play or how often icicles form can really make a difference. It is downright strange that these “switches” were in no way carried over to the NES edition. Please let me have my easy mode, Nintendo!
  • Would I play again: I cannot believe I wound up playing this for yet another website project. Please go away, Ice Climber.

What’s Next? We have a little something for the kids (that fight). Please look forward to it!

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