Life is tough. More so if you’re in the arctic trying to build and igloo before you freeze to death. Even more so if you’re unfortunate enough to be called Frostbite Bailey. Poor guy.
Frostbite was written by Steve Cartwright and published by Activision back when they were still making fun and quirky games. It’s an easy to pickup, yet hard to master platformer that borrows ever so slightly from Q-Bert and Frogger. Yet still maintaining its own individual flavor.
The goal of Frostbite is to jump from ice floe to ice floe in order to collect ice blocks to construct your igloo before the temperature drops, this is your timer, and you freeze to death. Which sounds simple enough, yet you have to contend with not only the falling temperature but ice floes that break, falling into the freezing waters, ice gulls, crabs, clams and one very annoyed polar bear. Giving the game its frantic feel.
The game starts simple enough but as you progress through the rounds new elements are added to ensure you don’t get too comfortable. There are a couple of defensive options available to the player in the form of a safe zone in the upper left portion of the screen, which protects you from the polar bear, and been able to change the direct a floe travels in by pressing the fire button. However there is a penalty for changing the direction of the flow and the game deducts one of the collected ice blocks, except when you complete the igloo for some reason. Also the safe zone is only accessible by ice floe and does not allow you to move anywhere except back onto another floe.
Graphically the game lives up to the standards that Activision had set. The graphics are bright and colorful with some nice work on the sprites, which all look like what they are intended to be. The background areas are well defined and give a clear indication as to the areas of play on the screen. There is also a nice sunset effect in the background and also a nice change in color between the day and night levels.
Audibly though the game is your standard 2600 array of bleeps, woops, bloops and whistles. Although, and this is going to sound odd, I like the effect when you die and when the bear catches you. It just has a great sound and really lets you know that you messed up.
Anyway let’s kick out some final thoughts.
Frostbite has and always will be one of my all time favorite Atari 2600 games. It was the game that introduced me to the system and the game I always turn to when I want a challenge of skill and dexterity.
I don’t know if it’s just me but I find many of the Activision games to be pretty simplistic and easy to pick up and play. Also it’s that simplicity that keeps me entertained for hours on end to which, thankfully, we find Frostbite is no exception. As it would have probably spoiled it if Steve had tried to program too much into it.
However there is one slight niggle with the game, and it is only slight, and that is the incredible harsh difficulty curve. Even on the simplest game mode it gets very fast very quickly. This can be very off-putting to new players and is frequently commented on by people I introduced to the game. Even my twitching, gibbering, counter-strike playing friends all have difficulty after only 5 rounds.
So I would certainly class this game as an ‘old school hard’ game.
Yet if you fancy the challenge then I highly recommend this game to you. If not for the game play then certainly to increase your reaction times.
5 out of 5.