5. Stranded Ship – Shovel Knight
Polar Knight’s stage,Stranded Ship, in Shovel Knight takes the theme of its level very seriously. The ice isn’t just trappings and decoration, it’s a genuine part of the level. Every move and leap you take must be carefully timed to avoid sending Shovel Knight sliding on slippery ice and careening into the abyss. That doesn’t mean you can’t use this to your advantage-you can slip and slide, but so can your enemies, which can make for some very satisfying encounters. You’ll also find yourself knocking snow down in order to cover up deadly spikes, and slamming your shovel into a rainbow ice statue to fly across pits. You can’t make this kind of stuff up, folks. The stage and enemies are all very much inspired by Viking culture; Polar Knight himself looks like an imposing Viking chief, striking foes with fear and imposing ferocity. All of these elements combined makes for one engaging-and very difficult-trip through a winter wonderland.
– Donovan Bertch
4. Fichina – Star Fox
In one mission from Star Fox 64, Fox and his ragtag crew of pilots were asked to take back an important base on the snowy planet of Fichina from enemy hands. The mission began simply as Fox, Peppy, Falco and Slippy kept enemy units under control. However, when Slippy notices enemy ships leaving the base, the Star Fox team’s robotic operator, Rob, tells the crew that a bomb has been planted inside of it. And to make matters worse, the Star Wolf mercenaries immediately show up and begin attacking Fox and his friends. Contrasting what was seemingly a calm acre of snowy mountains below, an epic confrontation of fighter ships hovering, zooming and blasting raged on above. The Battle of Fichina was a fun and tense tangle of ship-interception paired against a snowy backdrop of Fichina’s mountain ranges.
– Rafael Serrato
3. Shiver City – Paper Mario
Paper Mario is a fantastic game with a lot of fun characters, an engaging story, and a very wry sense of humor. There’s no greater evidence of this than the town of Shiver City, a cute little town made up of penguins, snow, and a murder mystery! As soon as Mario and co. get to the city on their hunt for the Star Spirits, they are accused of killing the town’s Mayor in a freak misunderstanding, and are not allowed to leave the town until they find out who put the penguin on ice. The way the whole town reacts with fear and terror to Mario is hilarious and surprisingly dark for a Nintendo game, with one NPC even screaming for Mario not to kill him (with floaty, shaky text to boot). Players must use their guile and wit on this case as the clues aren’t immediately laid out, which makes finding them a lot more gratifying, and the key suspect has some fun back and forth (for as much back and forth as you can get with a silent protag) with Mario. The case culminates pretty much how you’d expect it would in this kind of game, but that doesn’t make it any less hysterical. The game is afoot in this chilling mystery, and it’s definitely a blast.
– Donovan Bertch
2. Hoth – Star Wars Battlefront
Few snow planets are as memorable as Hoth, especially given how many times players have found themselves right back in the thick of battle upon the planet’s icy surface. The Battle of Hoth has been recreated in plenty of Star Wars games since it’s first video game translation in the 1982 title, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Fast forward over three decades later and players can once again jump into the carbon-scoring fray of the Empire’s raid on the hidden rebel base. However, Electronic Arts latest recreation brings the Rebel Alliance, the Empire and the ice world of Hoth into the glory of HD and current generation graphics. Hoth in Star Wars Battlefront is both a cacophonous and beautiful field of blaster fire, Tie fighter’s ion-screams and towering AT-ATs.
– Rafael Serrato
1. Skyrim – The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Taking the throne of our Top Ten Snow Levels is none other than Bethesda’s The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. And by Skyrim, we of course mean the whole damn thing! From Markarth to Riften and to Windhelm, the open playground of Skyrim’s vast, snowy lands is an epic accomplishment in regards to scale and ambiance. Wherever the player may be, the snow is a constant theme. Skyrim’s flora and fauna eek out a living against the harsh winter weather, but give the land a thrilling and lively tone. The mountains, valleys and cities are beautifully crafted to fit the lore and feel of an Elder Scrolls title and a homeland fit for the Nords. Both snow and cold enrapture the entirety of the Skyrim, making the ever-present ice inescapable. Even in the land’s darkest dungeons or sturdiest cities, it’s impossible for players to to escape the freezing landscape of Skyrim’s icy breath. The mighty dragons, too, are subservient to the land and its weather as they call ice-cold mountain peaks their home. The snowy breadth of Skyrim is vast, absolutely unforgettable and takes up the number one spot on our list.