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Ice Climber (universe)

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Ice Climber (universe)
Developer(s) Nintendo
Hamster Corporation
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Hamster Corporation
Designer(s) Kenji Miki
Genre(s) Platformer
Console/platform of origin Arcade
First installment VS. Ice Climber (1984)
Latest installment Arcade Archives Ice Climber (2019)

The Ice Climber universe (アイスクライマー, Ice Climber) refers to the Super Smash Bros. series's collection of characters, stages, and properties that hail from Nintendo's old, classic NES game Ice Climber, released in 1985. The game was one of several classic NES games that HAL Laboratory was considering bringing back to modern attention by including it in Super Smash Bros. Melee, and it won out over the other games to include the Ice Climbers as playable characters.

Interestingly, it has made two crossovers with the Balloon Fight universe: the alternate music for Icicle Mountain, simply called Balloon Fight, and the fish that is a regular enemy when the iceberg drops into the water in The Summit.

Franchise description[edit]

Cover artwork from the Famicom release of Ice Climber, featuring Nana, a Condor, a Topi, and a Polar Bear.

In January 1985, one of the various original video games developed by Nintendo's Research and Development division for the Japanese Famicom was Ice Climber, as part of a stream of similarly "one-shot" games released in rapid succession in late 1984 and early 1985 (other games included Clu Clu Land, Excitebike, and Balloon Fight, which incidentally was released just a week earlier). It was the first game programmed by Kazuaki Morita, who went on to become the main programmer of the industry-defining Super Mario Bros. later that year, and became a prolific programmer for multiple titles in the Mario and The Legend of Zelda series, as well as for Star Fox 64. Like the other aforementioned Famicom games released before the world famous debuts of the Mario and Zelda series, Ice Climber was not necessarily any kind of breakout hit, and was never chosen as a recipient for sequels or follow-ups. The game was also arguably overshadowed by Super Mario Bros. when both games were among the fairly extensive launch library for the Famicom's Western equivalent, the NES. Nonetheless, the game can be said to have a particularly significant background role in Nintendo's early release timeline because Morita described his work on the game as a "warm-up" before becoming a main programmer on Super Mario Bros.

A little-known arcade version of Ice Climber entitled VS. Ice Climber was released in North America in the October of the previous year, which included some different stages; exclusive level hazards and enemies; and other mechanic changes, but otherwise, Ice Climber remained an isolated, historical relic from the early years of the Famicom/NES. Sixteen years later, however, Nintendo's Super Smash Bros. crossover fighting game series selectively picked its main characters, the Ice Climbers, as a playable character choice representing an exclusively "retro" game series among a sea of Nintendo characters well-known in Nintendo's modern lineup of IPs. The appearance of the Ice Climbers in 2001's Super Smash Bros. Melee - which developer HAL Laboratory chose over other retro NES games such as Balloon Fight and Kid Icarus - spurred on multiple rereleases of their game in a variety of formats, such as for the e-Reader, a Game Boy Advance cartridge, the Virtual Console featured on the Wii; the 3DS; and the Wii U, and as part of the Switch's online service. The arcade version has also seen a rerelease as part of the Arcade Archives series. Despite the Ice Climbers reappearing in Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, though, there have never been any announced plans to produce some kind of modern-day follow-up.

In Ice Climber, the player controls a child in a blue Inuit parka and wielding a mallet, Popo, and in a two-player cooperative mode, a second, female Ice Climber in a pink parka, Nana, becomes a simultaneous second player-character. The Ice Climbers are motivated into jumping up through vertical, platform-heavy "glacial mountain" stages when all of their vegetables are stolen by a giant condor that retreats to the top of each stage, and along the way, they must smash blocks of ice either by jumping into them from underneath or using their mallets. In addition to randomly forming ice stalactites that fall down from above, several varieties of enemies native to the mountains threaten to reduce an Ice Climber's limited stock of lives: a flying bird named the Nitpicker, an upright-walking Polar Bear that wears pink shorts and sunglasses, and a Topi, which was famously changed from a seal to a rotund, yeti-like creature in the Western version, perhaps to avoid potential accusations of endorsing animal cruelty (in that the game depicts humans bludgeoning live seals for a point reward). Furthermore, the arcade version includes two enemies which were omitted from the NES release: the Bee, which wields a spear and flies across the screen, and the Butterfly, which replaces the Condor in some levels. The upper half of every stage is an enemy-free "bonus" stage in which the Ice Climbers have the opportunity to navigate a tricky set of platforms, collect vegetables for points, and potentially jump up to and grab the condor's talons (or the Butterfly's feet in some levels in Vs. Ice Climber) at the mountain peak, all for a massive point bonus.

In Super Smash Bros. Melee[edit]

Ice Climber is a franchise first introduced in the Smash series in Super Smash Bros. Melee, and it features a standard universe's worth of content from the franchise.


  • IceClimbersIcon(SSBM).png
    Ice Climbers (Starter): A pair of children clad in blue and pink Eskimo parkas, the Ice Climbers (respectively, Popo and Nana) live and sustain themselves on a variety of vegetables. When a giant condor steals the vegetables for itself and flees up to the peaks of various mountains, the pair grabs big mallets and hike up each mountain, smashing blocks of ice in their way and swatting Topis, Nitpickers, and Polar Bears before retrieving their stolen veggies and confronting the condor at the top. The Ice Climbers are the most unique fighter in Melee in that it is two copies of the same fighter mimicking each other's moves a fraction of a second apart, and the player controls the one "lead" Ice Climber while the second is computer controlled. At first considered gimmicky, over time professional players have learned to take advantage of this setup with various innovations such as desynching, transforming the Ice Climbers into a combatant in the high tier.


Melee features one stage based on the Ice Climber game. Two other stages, however, were left unfinished, though their data is still on the disc.

  • IcicleMountainIconSSBM.png
    Infinite Glacier: Icicle Mountain (Starter): Representing the vertical, platformed mountains that Popo and Nana regularly scale, this is perhaps the game's most unusual stage; it is an infinitely scrolling vertical stage where all sorts of platforms are laid out in almost random configuration, and one must pay attention both to the battling and keeping oneself on platforms that aren't about to disappear off the bottom into the abyss. It is a combination of this and the fact that the KO boundaries on either side of the stage are rather close to each other, causing potentially random KOs, that many players consider this their least favorite stage, and it is often banned in tournaments. The Adventure Mode version of this stage features many Topis and Polar Bears as common enemies, and the Mario-series item Freezie makes many appearances as well.

Common Enemies[edit]

Melee features some easily KO'ed enemies hailing from the Ice Climber universe.

  • Topi: In the U.S. versions of both Melee and the original Ice Climber, the Topi is a small, fluffy creature said to resemble a Yeti. In the Japanese versions of these games, however, the Topi is a blue seal. The reason for this change is that Nintendo was wary of potential American accusations of depicting animal cruelty in Ice Climber, in which the Ice Climbers would hammer the Seal Topis with their mallets, so they changed the Topi into a more fictional creature. In the original Ice Climber, the Yeti Topi or the Seal Topi is relatively harmless and serves only to impede progress by placing blocks of ice over the openings in stages the Ice Climbers would jump through, and in Melee they walk and slide around damaging whoever they bump into.
  • Polar Bear: This animal is a bipedal polar bear wearing pink shorts and sunglasses. In Ice Climber it is an uncommon enemy which is potentially deadly because it pounds the ice to force the screen to move upward, and if the Ice Climbers are too far down at the bottom, they will lose a life. As common Melee enemies, they operate just like they did before. They also act like Topis in that they walk around without doing much of anything, but characters bumping into them take more damage, and Polar Bears take more hits before they are KO'ed.


  • Icicle Mountain: A synthesized medley of the two primary tunes in the NES game Ice Climber, with the first part being the "Bonus stage music" and the second part being the "Normal stage music". It appears in Icicle Mountain as a primary track. It is Song 25 in the Sound Test.
  • Ice Climbers' Victory: The victory theme of Ice Climbers is an orchestration of the victory music that occurs in the original Ice Climber when an Ice Climber reaches the top of a stage and manages to jump up and grab onto the talons of the Condor. It is Song 50 in the Sound Test.


In Super Smash Bros. Brawl[edit]

The Ice Climbers return in Super Smash Bros. Brawl with little changes made to them and their representation other than a huge graphical improvement and a new stage in place of Icicle Mountain.


On the final character select screen (after all characters are unlocked), the Ice Climbers share the fourth column with fellow Famicom/NES-originated characters Pit, R.O.B., and Samus.


  • Icon-summit.gif
    Summit (Starter): A stage that takes place at the summit of Icicle Mountain. As players fight, the chunk of the mountain they're on will break off of the mountain and slide down into the icy waters below. While floating in these waters, a polar bear like in the original game will appear and push the stage down to a level where players may drown if not careful. The fish from Balloon Fight also appears and may eat players, causing an instant KO.


  • Vegetables (Ice Climber): An item that appears only on the Summit, food from the mountains of the original game will appear as a healing item, similar to food.


Original Track[edit]

  • Ice Climber: A medley of the original Ice Climber game's title screen and main theme; changing tone and pace depending on whether the stage is at the top of the summit, sliding down the mountain, or floating in the ocean. It is the theme of the Summit stage. This track is also played during Ice Climbers' Classic Mode credits and in the Glacial Peak's first part in Subspace Emissary.

Returning Track[edit]

Victory Theme[edit]

  • Victory! Ice Climbers: Taken from the original Ice Climber, this was the fanfare that would play if Popo or Nana completed a bonus level by grabbing the Condor's talons at the end.




Main article: Masterpieces

In Super Smash Bros. 4[edit]

The Ice Climbers are not playable in Super Smash Bros. 4. Masahiro Sakurai originally planned to include them in the game, but ultimately removed them, as the Nintendo 3DS version did not have the power to run them, and Sakurai did not want the Wii U version to have an exclusive character. As such, all Ice Climber content is labeled under the "Others" category.

Common Enemy[edit]


Both Versions[edit]

  • Ice Climbers

Nintendo 3DS[edit]

  • Polar Bear


Returning Tracks[edit]

In Super Smash Bros. Ultimate[edit]


  • 15.
    Ice Climbers (Unlockable): After an absence from Smash 4, the duo finally returns as an unlockable fighter after being a starter in Melee and Brawl. The duo received some major nerfs to their gameplay, most notably that the side character (depending on alternate costumes) can no longer react as the main character grabs. This effectively killed major chain grabs that the duo were known for.


  • Super Smash Bros. Brawl
    Summit (Starter): The icy mountain returns as a retro stage in Ultimate after being left out of Smash 4.



There are no new Ice Climber tracks in Ultimate.

Returning Tracks[edit]

Arrangements and remixes from previous Smash games.

  • Super Smash Bros. MeleeIce Climber (Melee): An arrangement of the bonus stage theme and stage theme from Ice Climber. Returns from Melee, renamed from Icicle Mountain.
  • Super Smash Bros. BrawlIce Climber (Brawl): A medley of tracks from Ice Climber, including the bonus stage theme and the stage theme. Returns from Brawl. Appeared in the Ice Climbers' character trailer.

Victory Theme[edit]

  • Victory! Ice Climbers: A remix of the theme that plays when clearing a bonus stage from Ice Climber, the beginning is cut down in Ultimate.



  • Ice Climber is one of the only universes to have more trophies than stickers.
  • The Ice Climber and Metal Gear universes are the only universes to have their only playable character not return in Super Smash Bros. 4. Both Snake and the Ice Climbers would later return in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
  • Despite having two tracks, the Ice Climber universe does not have its own category in Ultimate's music section. This also holds true for the Duck Hunt universe.
    • Oddly, the Game & Watch universe has its own category despite only having two music tracks.