Shorts

Fire 'n Ice!
by: Dr. Boogie

Winter reminds me of just one thing: ICE. It trashes your gutters, turns the roads into deathtraps, and causes your unused water mains to burst. It should come as no surprise, then, that back in the 90s, someone decided to make a video game where you could use ice for a less nefarious purpose. Of course, there have been countless games with penguins manipulating that coldest of universal solvents, put what about man, the most evolved of all the different species of bird? Well man finally had his day in a tasty puzzle game called Fire 'n Ice.

By the way, if you decide to go looking for this game elsewhere, make sure you type it with an apostrophe before the "N". Don't use the word "and" or you won't get a damn thing. And don't even think about putting an ampersand in there, Mr. College.

First, a little background: The wizard Druidle is menacing Coolmint Island (famous for their mouthwash and gum). For some reason, he wants to see the whole island melt, perhaps so he can bottle the glacial water and sell it for $4 a pop. He poses a dire threat to the island and its people, so the Queen of the winter fairies puts the fate of the island in the hands of a "novice wizard" named Dana. Apparently, what he lacks in magical talent he more than makes up for in "wisdom and courage". Not the choice I would have made.

She gives him Ice Magic, and with it, he has the power to form blocks of ice, though only in specific spots:

His wand can also do the opposite:

Additionally, he can also support many times his own weight with one hand:

That's the "ice" portion of the title. The "fire" part comes from your enemies: a collection of flame monster placed on the island somehow by Druidle.

The fires never stop burning, but on the other hand, they never seem to melt the ice. The tricky part is that you can only put them out by dropping or sliding a block of ice onto them. I suppose if Dana were just a bit taller, he could just magic up a block of ice right over each flame and be done in half an hour, but oh well. At least he's got "wisdom" and "courage" on his side.

The refreshingly minty island is divided up into ten areas, which are then further divided into nine stages each, with a boss fight at the end.

Well, boss puzzle, I guess would be more accurate. A slightly more difficult puzzle, sometimes with a twist like a constantly rising fire pit, or mobile enemies with umbrellas, or something similar.

Of course, adding a boss fight to the end of each level is all but unnecessary. The whole game is all about solving these puzzles, and though they start off simple:

They start to scale up fairly quickly:

And toward the end, you'll really be scratching your head as you continue to try your hand at fighting fires:

Still, if you can keep from pulling all your hair out, you'll find that you actually enjoy helping the talentless wizard put out these rampant fires. It's like living in California!

There's even a twist ending that's so twisted, they put it in the beginning of the game:

The entire game is really just a story that an old woman is telling her excitable grandkids so they'll calm down and go to sleep. It's like the Usual Suspects, only the old woman is Keyser Soze. The game would make for a good bedtime story, though. "Once upon a time, Dana appeared in a small cave, and climbed up a series of steps. At the top, he created two blocks of ice, and then went back and removed the first block of ice, and then did this two more times before dropping down and kicking one block to the left while the other two served as a post from which he could climb back up and repeat the process. Wake up, kids, or you'll miss the tale of dungeon #2."

I'm getting bored already. You, though, you'll get a chance to actually play the game, and not just listen as it's described in detail by an old woman. Lucky you.

Questions or Comments about this piece?
email Dr. Boogie

*** You too can play Fire 'n Ice! ***

[CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD FIRE 'N ICE!]

Note: to play this game you'll need a NES emulator.

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Then check out Dr. Boogie's feature on:

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