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Ice Capped Zones: Snow Levels in Sonic Games


Sonictrainer
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I had originally done this topic awhile ago but it was lost due to the forum wipe. Hopefully, this one lasts a lot longer than before.

Anyway, if there’s one type of level in Sonic games that I really enjoy, besides the Green Hills, Beaches, Cities, and Casinos, it’s the Snow Levels.

It’s always fun to see Sonic and Friends slide, snowboard, and ski their way through winter wonderlands and avoid being completely frozen.

Note: The List in this opening post only contains Ice Levels from Sonic games I myself have played, experienced, and remember well enough to talk about, as well as levels I feel are debatable as Ice Levels. For example, I haven't played Sonic Labyrinth in a long time so I didn't mention the Labyrinth of Ice... If you have a favorite Ice level I forgot about, a level I didn’t mention because I never played it, or have a level you feel can be described as a Ice level, feel free to talk about it in the topic.

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Sonic 3 & Knuckles: Ice Cap Zone
The original Ice Cap Zone is the first Ice Level some of us have played in a Sonic game (unless you played Icy Isle in Sonic Arcade). From the automated snowboard section into the frozen caverns of Act 1 and into the frozen tundra of Act 2, Sonic and Tails try to keep warm, as they get closer to the Death Egg. The music was great, the enemies were well designed, and the level was challenging.

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Sonic Triple Trouble: Robotnik Winter Zone
The Robotnik Winter Zone has sinking snow pits that Sonic and Tails can sink into, updraft winds that carry Sonic and Tails to higher areas, and different kinds of spikes. Fortunately, there are items such as the Snowboard that Sonic can use to get the level.

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Sonic 3D Blast: Diamond Dust Zone
The Diamond Dust Zone features an interesting variety of enemies for Sonic to free Flickies from: exploding snowmen, snowmen with guns in their foreheads, a generic Penguinator, and what looks like a finalized version of Splats. Even after Sonic destroys the Badniks, the Flickies will be frozen in ice cubes.

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Sonic Adventure: Ice Cap
Ice Cap Zone in 3D? OK! Whether you’re exploring the area as Sonic, racing to the Chaos Emerald as Tails, or fishing for Froggy as Big, Sonic Adventure’s Ice Cap was an interesting take on the Ice Level.

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Sonic Advance: Ice Mountain Zone
The Ice Mountain Zone has 2 paths to travel:
-A lower path underwater filled with a Fish Badnik that hides in the walls and underwater lava that shoots platforms near the surface
-A higher path with rails made of ice, a Snowman Badnik that throws snowballs, and areas where there’s so much snow, it can actually slow your character down

At the end of Act 2, Sonic and friends will slide down into a body of water where Eggman will appear with his latest creation to try and drop Icicles on top of you. You had to balance using the Icicles as platforms to hit Eggman and reaching the surface to get more air.

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Sonic Advance 2: Ice Paradise Zone
On the outskirts of some city, Sonic and friends can boost their way through tunnels, slippery ice, and some kind of mechanical slides to reach the goal.

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Sonic Advance 3: Twinkle Snow Zone
The Twinkle Snow Zone is basically a combo of the Ice Mountain Zone and Ice Paradise Zone, except with Minecarts…that really break the pacing of the level.

The Boss in this level can go die in a fire. You have to jump on the platforms to make them fall and hit Eggman while making sure you don’t join them in the bottomless pit underneath him. Also, once he flips over, Gemerl appears with a Spiked Ball that launches at you and blocks you temporary. If it hits you, you’re done because you’ll fall right into the pit.

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Sonic the Hedgehog 2006: White Acropolis
Somewhere near Soleanna is Dr. Eggman’s base, located in the snowy region. Unfortunately, the level itself is also located in an unfinished game.

Fun Fact: An Acropolis is a citadel or fortified part of an ancient Greek city, typically built on a hill.

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Sonic Riders: Ice Factory
The Egg Factory has frozen over and Storm has to punch his way through the cleaning robots, giant ventilation fans, and blocks of ice to steal Eggman’s diary.

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Sonic Riders Zero Gravity: Snowy Kingdom
In order to beat Team Heroes to MeteoTech, Team Babylon takes a shortcut through Snowy Kingdom. This level is very wide and has multiple paths to take. Watch out for the giant bouncing snowballs!

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Sonic Rush Adventure: Blizzard Peaks Zone
In Blaze’s World, Blizzard Peaks is home to Nolan and the Vikings. To get through it, Sonic and Blaze had to use Snowboards in Act 1 and slip and slide through Act 2.

…I’m noticing a trend with Sonic jumping across icicles.

To top it all off, Sonic and Blaze have to defeat the Ghost Whale by getting inside its mechanical stomach and destroying it from the inside out.

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Sonic Unleashed HD: Cool Edge
Welcome to Holoska, Home of Jari-Pekka, his family, and a group of dancing penguins, a pair of Stomping Shoes, and one of the Gaia Temples. 

The Cool Edge Day Acts 1 and 2 have Sonic Boosting over ice, snow, ocean waters, and the local whales in his sneakers and in Jari-Thure’s Bobsled.

During the Evening, Cool Edge Night Act 1 has Sonic break and melt ice down get towards the Gaia Gate. The ice pillars from Sonic Adventure’s Ice Cap also make a return here.

Once Sonic and Chip make it down to the Gaia Gate, they’ll have to face Dark Moray, a giant eel-dragon that breathes Frost Breath. You had to take down its shield and freeze it yourself before hitting the green spots on its body.

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Sonic 4 Episode 2: White Park Zone
White Park Zone is a Winter-themed amusement park…that has avalanche inducing snowboard track, a booby-trapped old-school roller coaster track, and an underwater maze.

This is also where Sonic and Tails run into the new and improved Metal Sonic, ready to test out his new powers on them.

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Sonic Lost World: Frozen Factory
In the coldest part of the Lost Hex there’s a factory that connects to an indoor Casino, being watched over by Zeena.

What’s unique about Frozen Factory, besides the multiple level themes, is that when you use the Parkour/Run button in Zone 1 and 4, Sonic will do his best Shadow impression and ice skate across any icy surfaces. In Act 4, it almost seems like he’s skiing.

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Meanwhile, the 3DS Version, Sonic meets the Ivory Wisps for the first time and uses their Thunder Shield-Spider-man abilities to get through the Zone.

 


If you had to choose, what would be your #1 Ice Level in a Sonic Game?

What would be your least favorite Ice Level in a Sonic Game?

What are some old or new ideas you'd like to see in future Ice Levels in Sonic games?

What's another level theme you'd like to see fused together with the Ice themes in Sonic games?

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Combadre, you forgot 2 other levels. Crystal Mountain from Rivals and Icy Isle from SEGASonic Arcade.

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But for my favorite, in terms of handhelds. Twinkle Snow always tickled my fancy the best but it's probably because of how amazing the theme is, so much bliss! <3

Robotnik Winter was pretty fun with the snowboards and it's probably the other Sonic level I can remember quite well in Triple Trouble besides Sunset Park.  And I LOVE Blizzard Peaks, it's probably one of my favorite Sonic levels ever!

For consoles, Ice Cap in both 3&K and SA1 were pretty fun levels. 3&K's Ice Cap is a nicely designed level with nice music but SA1's Snowboard section was HYPE as hell!

Cool Edge in Unleashed is just breathless, no words can be said how awesome that level was in the HD version!

Frozen Factory is a nice level that mixes some industrial pieces as well, which is cool! And Frozen Factory Zone 1 on the 3DS is probably one of my favorite levels in the game.

White Park was cool level but I feel it could've used more its carnival elements more creatively.

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I like pretty much every snow level in Sonic that I have played, whether it's the design, visuals or music. But my favourite is probably Ice cap (both of them) and least favourite is Frozen factory (Have I told that I hate ice-physics? Not to mention that snowball)

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Combadre, you forgot 2 other levels. Crystal Mountain from Rivals and Icy Isle from SEGASonic Arcade.

I have seen cutscenes from both of those games and understand the stories but when it comes to talking about the levels I feel like I can't do them justice because I've haven't actually played and experienced them myself (never owned a PSP or saw the Arcade Game in the US). That's why I didn't include them in my first post.

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I also didn't mention Ice Cap from Sonic Drift 2 because I haven't played it in a long time, like Sonic Labyrinth.

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Blizzard Peaks is definitely my favorite snow level. Snowboarding is always so cool and I love the frozen halfpipes. I will say that Sonic 4 ep 2 had a nice idea with a snowy amusement park. Plus those walrus and polar bear enemies are some of my favorite badnik designs for sure.

My least favorite is definitely Frozen Factory. Not an ounce of fun was had in that zone. Not an ounce! (`_>´) 

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Icecap has always been one of my favourite levels in the entire series.

Combining the general look of the level with the snowboarding mechanics and the amazing sense of speed they give you in both the S3K and SA1 versions I've just always loved going back to them over and over in the past.

I don't remember a lot about the other levels except Advance 2's bottomless pits and losing a bunch of lives trying to get that last jump in White Acropolis. I haven't played either of them in ages though.

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White Park could have been one of the best if they'd integrated the settings more. It's pretty unique visually regardless though, and I enjoy all the acts individually well enough, even the underwater one.

 

In terms of non-Sonic 4 Dimps games... I'm really fond of both Ice Mountain and Twinkle Snow, they are beautiful with the nice scenery and the Aurora Borealis and the fact you go underwater adds to it. The boss of Twinkle Snow is insane though, jesus, it's Castlevania level hard. Ice Paradise always annoyed me, you get this awesome city in the background but no, you play a generic ice level with lame Christmas music instead. Blizzard Peaks for me is more memorable due to the boss than anything else, that Whale boss is fantastic and plays like a level. Blizzard Peaks doesn't stand out that much, but it's still really great, it's just Rush Adventure had a load of unique settings and Blizzard Peaks is the most generic. It's also possible to accidentally go to Sky Babylon before Blizzard Peaks, and that difficulty spike from Haunted Ship to Sky Babylon sure will fuck you up!

 

Honestly though, I've never been anywhere near as fond of Ice Cap as I guess everyone else was. I feel like it's really brief and is pretty unmemorable once you get through the snowboarding sequence. Another thing that bothers me is that almost all the ice levels have snowboarding. Why is it almost snowboarding? Just because Ice Cap did it? I'm not fond of Cool Edge (slippery controls combined with ice in this game is painful, and it's the most linear level in the entire game) but at least they used bobsleds instead. They should take Sonic skiing in a main game one day just to break up the monotony. Speaking of Cool Edge, it's like the only Unleashed level aside from Eggmanland to have level specific gimmicks, that goes for both Day and Night. However, the actual level design of both of these stages is just aggravating with lots of instant death and collapsing things and I feel like I'm fighting the controls more than anything else. It's certainly not one of my favourite Unleashed levels.

 

Ice Cap in SA1 is pretty nice, the snowboarding goes on a bit too long though and the rest of it feels pretty bland. The first music in Sonic's level is awesome though you don't get to hear more than 20 seconds of it.

 

White Acropolis would have been awesome if the game was finished. I always loved the searchlights, and the last area is a really nice open space where you're meant to work out the right way to proceed, or sequence break off a pillar or rock or something. It's sadly only enjoyable as Sonic though as only he gets to move at a half decent speed through it. Having an icy base with a frozen wasteland is also pretty unique and honestly other than the wonky snowboarding, Sonic's version of White Acropolis is one of 2006's best stages to play in my eyes.

 

Oh and there's Robotnik Winter. That was a level.

 

Overall, ice levels generally tend to be fun levels but I feel like they use the same elements over and over again, such a slippery ice, snow slowing you down, snowboarding, and the same mountainous settings. The few games to attempt to mix it up don't do it quite enough.

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This topic came back! Awesome! :) Ice and Snow levels are my 3rd favorite as far as level tropes are concerned next to Food and Carnival/Casino level tropes.

If you had to choose, what would be your #1 Ice Level in a Sonic Game? 

I definitely have to go with the original when it comes to favorite Ice/Snow levels in Sonic games: Ice Cap Zone.

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This level is an absolute beauty with it's wintry ice and snowy backgrounds full of detail. The gameplay was a blast as well especially with that music:

I have such fond memories playing Ice Cap Zone initially back in 1994. I clearly recall making it a point to be extra careful with Sonic when he had an electric shield not to lose it while playing Ice Cap Zone as I had the thought that they were keeping Sonic warm amid the wintry cold as well as protecting him from his enemies ^_^

To this day I still feel it is is real shame that wasn't the level chosen to represent Sonic 3/Sonic 3 & Knuckles or at least made for DLC for Sonic Generations. I can still see this zone remade in high definition along with some amazing remixes if it was in Generations. Throw that in along with some snowboarding, skiing or sledding gimmicks in the snow and ice and this zone had the potential to be a lot of fun as well as amazing. At least the original didn't disappoint there.

What would be your least favorite Ice Level in a Sonic Game?

 Frozen Factory from Sonic Lost World

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This is a beautiful looking level full of detail and the music is really good too IMO, but that is pretty much moot when the gameplay isn't enjoyable. Especially with that snowball. The snowball ruins nearly everything. 

 What are some old or new ideas you'd like to see in future Ice Levels in Sonic games?

 I always liked the gimmicks of snowboarding, skiing, and sledding in the wintry conditions provided by the snow and ice levels in Sonic games so I think it would be fun to continue to do all of those things in those levels to mix things up within the gameplay.

And while this isn't exactly a new idea (as it has been done in the Mario & Sonic Winter Olympic Series), but having a multiplayer or mini-game/party mode or bonus round/special stages even with some of these Winter activities could be incorporated competition-style such as :

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Ski Racing

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Or a good ol' snowball fight :P 

I also think this would be pretty harmless way to have Sonic's friends in the game. Even if it isn't along the main stream of things that they are playable.

And it's a minor thing but I would love to see Sonic and crew actually dressed for the wintry outdoors amid their adventures with a hat, scarf or even a coat:

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I think details like that with Sonic adapting to his surroundings could made the visuals even more appealing as well as realistic and cute :)

 What's another level theme you'd like to see fused together with the Ice themes in Sonic games?

The first thought that came to mind was that of the food level theme:

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Something like this only with actual snow around instead of the clouds everywhere, the licorice being visibly icy, etc. That said, a food and snow level fusion is something I would love to see ^_^ I think combining these two themes-notably with snow, ice and ice cream of various sorts could be a fun and creative looking level as well as delicious :P Among the gimmicks could include Sonic using a huge spoon as a sled or something like that ;) The opportunities for creativity and fun with this combination of level themes could be many.

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I loved "Diamond Dust Zone" Saturn/PC. I play its music every year in December (both acts and extended). It's very unique: the snowfall you have to go through to get to the other side, and the way the Flickies are encapsulated in tiny ice cubes after you destroy a Badnik. I also love the secrets in this zone where you have to spin dash spikes in the walls.

 

I hated the Icecap Zone in "Sonic 3", but I absolutely adore its 3D counterpart. You have ginormous ice picks falling from the ceiling, an ancient dinosaur skeleton in the frozen lake as you're fishing for Froggy, and a snowboarding chase to finish off a amazing zone. Also, the very first "act" music. It's so creepy yet serene at the same time. Like "Aquatic Ambiance" or, to be more ice appropriate, "A Snow Bound Land". 

"Ice Mountain Zone" is another favorite of mine. I love how, like "Diamond Dust Zone", on the Saturn & PC, it's snowing in the foreground. The one part I hate in this zone is the shark Badnik that pops out at you from nowhere on that spring by the wall. 

 

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