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34 Cliches of Christmas
The Fire/Ice Level
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on December 05, 2007   |   Episode 14 (Show Archive)  

   

It's that time of year again, a time when Defunct Games celebrates the holidays by posting a daily theme article that should inform and delight gamers all over the world. This year we're taking a look at the video game cliche, the type of thing we've seen time and time again in all generations of gaming. Is this cliche realistic? Does it need to go away? These are the types of questions Defunct Games will be asking over the next month. Join us as we celebrate this joyous season with the 34 Cliches of Christmas!



From this picture you can definitely see why so many developers want to have an ice level in their game. Brrr!
As Seen In: Super Mario Bros., Hudson's Adventure Island, Duck Tales, Donkey Kong Country, Sonic the Hedgehog, The Legend of Zelda, Mega Man, Stuntman Ignition, Wizards & Warriors and way too many old school platformers to mention here.

What Is It? You've just survived a crazy upside down level, a dark level with a black background, the level where everything was really big and the underwater level. So what could possibly be next? It's the fire level of course, followed closely by the ice level. For whatever reason video game developers love the idea of adding fire and ice levels to their games. Sometimes it's not fire per se, but rather red hot lava that just looks and glows like regular fire. Oh, and did I mention that lava is really hot? Just like the snow and ice levels are very cold. And the fact that these levels tend to come one right after the other is all the more puzzling. Hey look, I'm not here to tell you why they made up these cliches, I'm just here to tell you about it.


Forget the fire, what I want to know is who makes fire pits? Is there a special company that comes out and makes fire pits for your fire breathing dragon?
Is It Realistic? Where does all this fire and ice come from? I can understand putting a level in a snowy region, that makes some sense (although it's still a mystery why you would have to go there in the first place). But what's going on with the fire? Where have you ever been where there's been that much fire around? Is there a reason that just about every 2D platformer hero had to fight his way through a wildfire? And don't even start with me about the use of lava, that stuff is still deadly hot (and not to be trusted). Even if you do assume that it's lava, that still doesn't explain why you have to do your work while the ground is still hot. Why not use your brain and just go back when everything has cooled down, I'm sure whatever it was you were after will still be there. But what gets me is how quickly most games go from ice to fire, as if they are just going from one extreme to the other just to get the cliches out of the way. Ice levels can be realistic, but that doesn't make them fun.

Is It Overused? It must be rough for all of those level designers, they are constantly being asked to come up with ideas for new types of levels. Too bad we continue to see the same two levels year after year. Ice levels are fine and I've been known to enjoy a few fire levels, but these two cliches have got to go. Isn't it about time these developers hired people who had some original ideas for where to take our hero.

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