What’s a platform game without a winter-themed level? Not a good one, that’s for certain. As the genre’s importance has waxed and waned over the years, several incredibly icy levels have arrived to delight and frustrate players with frosty vistas and slippy slopes. So while we’re up to our knees in festivities, we thought it’d be a good time to run through some of our absolute favorites. Expect plenty of mascots and anthropomorphic animals as we dig into the best winter levels in platform games.
Cool Cool Mountain — Super Mario 64
Arguably the ultimate winter-themed platforming level, Mario’s jaunt to the snowy mountain in Super Mario 64 is a defining part of the early game. Winning the slide race and delivering that precious penguin baby – as annoying as it could be – is a fun but challenging endeavor, especially on the unwieldy N64 controller. But with such a killer soundtrack, inspired enemies like the flowery Spindrifts and plenty of stars to collect, it’s hard not to get caught up in the wonderful wintry vibes of Cool Cool Mountain. For nostalgia’s sake, maybe try and forget about all the times you’ve fallen off its slopes and into the blue abyss.
Freezeezy Peak — Banjo Kazooie
With its gigantic snowmen, bouncy Christmas presents and twinkly, dainty tree lights, the winter theming of Freezeezy Peak is blatant and infectious. An inspired winter level, players will climb inside of Christmas trees and igloos in search of collectibles. Frustrating sled racing aside, this is one of the best distillations of festive cheer in any platform game, and is well worth revisiting for a Christmas pick-me-up. Even if it’s just for the holly-jolly soundtrack, which is way better than some digital Yule log. Just make sure you fly through the star at the top of the Christmas tree, OK?
Snow Go — Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back
The short but sweet Snow Go was Crash Bandicoot’s first video game venture into a brisk icy biome, and its crystal-marked walls and evil penguins still make a strong impression as players try to platform their way to safety. The chilly level debuted in Cortex Strikes Back all the way back in 1997, but its slippy patches have since been brought up to date with the release of the N.Sane trilogy, which ramped up the reflections and texture quality. Those deadly seal-covered slopes and mischievous Nitro Box placements have remained the same, however…
Ice Cavern — Spyro the Dragon
A snow-coated mystical village full of unusual ski-toting inhabitants, Ice Cavern offers one of the most wistful and daunting winter levels in Spyro’s back catalogue, with a thick chasm of purple fog separating ice-coated crevices and crannies, goading players into death-defying jumps. But Ice Cavern is perhaps most memorable for its context-appropriate but unnecessarily banging soundtrack, which still stands as one of Stewart Copeland’s best. Check it out if you want to guarantee some frosty feelings this holiday season. Even if there isn’t any snow outside where you are, this one may summon a few shivers…
Have we missed any of your favourite winter levels from platform games? Thaw out by grabbing yourself a hot cuppa and let us know your thoughts over on our Community Forum!