Thin Ice


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Rating: 4.5/5 (28 votes)
| Comments (58) | Views (47)

PatrickThin IceThin Ice is the latest game from the Nitrome factory assembly line of casual gaming goodness. In this game you control a skater (of the wintery variety, not a Sk8ter) that is somehow threatened by the extended family of the yeti from that Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer claymation movie. You may recognize the characters from the previously reviewed (and excellent) Frost Bite. By skating circles around these strange creatures you cause them to sink into the pond, where they presumably die of hypothermia. Freeze all of the things that are different from you to win and move on to the next charmingly snowy level, but don't fall into the holes cut into the ice yourself or you'll lose about 25% of your health meter.

The game's interface is fluid as a snowflake that melts before you can show anyone: Simply click the mouse to skate and move the mouse to adjust the direction that your skater moves. This results in a really gentle adjustment that allows you to lace beautiful patterns all around. While you're sinking beasts into the lake, you can also pick up treats like ice cream and letters that spell "BONUS" which gives you points. Elegant and pristine with very nice pixel art filling out the sides.

Thin Ice is an enjoyable concept executed in classic Nitrome fashion, but it fails to provide an experience without a few minor kinks. In this case, the speed with which your trail recedes is equal to the speed of your skater. I guess the designer thought that making the two speeds equal would create balance, but it actually creates some frustration. Often I found myself chasing the trail in order to close a circle, something that might easily be tweaked by adjusting a variable in the code. Likewise, the physics feedback from colliding with a monster could be tuned down.

Overall, this is another fantastic experiment gone mostly right.

Play Thin Ice

As noted in the comments, Thin Ice is a game with roots in another game of the same name released in 1986 by Mattel Electronics for the Intellivision. The gameplay mechanic of creating loops around enemies and objects dates back to the arcade game Quantum by Atari, from 1982. Notable Flash games more recently that employ a similar mechanic include gameLab's Loop and Ferry Halim's Floats.

58 Comments

I'm sorry, but this game is WEIRD
PMSL
I can't stop myself playing it though.. although this one level atm isn't loading pmsl.

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How cute! I admit, happy to see this after the rash of "squash bugs" games. I don't think the Yetis are dying of hypothermia: they're snowmonsters after all. They're just getting a bit of a dunking because they are being naughty and hogging the ice. All in good fun, and everyone has hot cocoa afterwards. That's how *I* choose to see the game, anyway.

The little girl is still a bit hard to control, but then I never was that terrific on skates anyway. I do wish the power ups appeared a bit more randomly. As it is, I just zip along and scarf them up at the beginning.

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Wow, Nitrome have really outdone themselevs. 4 games in 1 and a half weeks is really impressive considering that they were all quite good, especially twang.

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I like how the character turns smoothly. And i really like the game, too.

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Woah now... these Nitrome guys are making me feel uneasy. How do they manage to make so many new games in so little time? Is recycling the sprites from former games the key (well, no, because the three before Thin Ice were entirely new...)?

I like keyboard-controlled games much better than mouse-controlled ones, so I'll probably pass on this one.

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Very similar to Loop! (I like loop just a bit better)

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Nitrome kicks SO much butt. Great music, as always! It will be stuck in my head all day (Until I zone out in front of Psyconauts [if I can get it working properly] or whatever I happen to get a blockbuster today!)

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You know, I would have thought Nitrome would have figured out collision detection by now, but it's terrible in this game...it makes level 15 unplayable. Too bad, I was having fun until then, despite the fact that the bouncing-when-injured things really does suck.

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While I've come to expect a certain lack of historical perspective around here - unfortunate as that is for a site that would like games to be treated as an art form - this one is a bit more strongly assertive in that area than usual. Before throwing around hyperbole like "fantastically innovative", at least take a few minutes to look for similar experiments in the past.

This case is particularly bad because the game mechanic and theme had appeared together under the same name, and in a commercially released game:

http://www.mobygames.com/game/intellivision/thin-ice

The concept itself was born, AFAIK, in 1982 at Atari:

http://www.klov.com/game_detail.php?game_id=9189

Perhaps that kind of perspective is - disappointingly - too much to ask, but the same gametype has been reviewed here on jayisgames and the same mistake addressed by another poster when Floats was reviewed, prompting the mentioned review of Loop - which garnered a comment with the above link to Quantum.

Perhaps this is just a link blog and I'm expecting too much, but I'd hoped for a little more insight. There are a few truly novel game ideas every year, and treating rehashes - however nicely done - as new only undermines the genuine innovation that's out there. As the casual game market expands (always according to Sturgeon's Law), a little bit of detective work - or reviewers with a bit more background knowledge - can really pay off.

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borednow - I couldn't agree more and, no, I don't believe you are expecting too much. Would you like a job reviewing games?

For that matter, would ANYONE with significant video game background or that is good in the background detective work department like to get paid for reviewing casual games?

Is so, please send me an email to the address at the bottom of the left sidebar.

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I think it's a him, not a 'little girl' :)
I see Cinvent is high up on the high scores again (after Frost Bite)- He/she must like these frosty games.

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While I appreciate Patrick's review, I have to agree wholeheartedly with borednow. I developed an involuntary twitch when I read phrases like "novel concept" and "fantastically innovative." Even though I don't have the historical knowledge that borednow does, I immediately thought of Ferry Halim's "Floats," and I knew that wasn't original then either.

And if borednow needs any encouragement to write reviews, I'll just say right now that I would love to see some reviews that cover (even if only in brief) the history of the genre to which a game belongs, putting that game into proper perspective. I'm sure there are others here who feel the same (You know, besides Jay).

As for the game itself, well, it's fun, but not so much fun that I can't put it down. It suffers from the characteristic Nitrome problem of collision detection, as others have noted above, which is rather annoying. Pumping out games like there's no tomorrow is good, but I think it would be better to value quality over quantity. I would take one really good game a month over a dozen okay games. I realize that I am beating a dead horse here, but so is Nitrome.

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Yes, I had the same reaction as bored now when I saw "novel" and "innovatve", because I loved playing Thin Ice with my brother on our family's Intellivision as a child.

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I don't know, I've played (and enjoyed) Floats, and don't think there is any similarity other than needing to encircle the target. Are all games with something that shoots the same, then?

This is just a pure fluff game. Not particularly difficult, but whimsical and a good work break. I like that sort of casual game--frankly, I don't come to this website looking for super involved games in the mode of (for example) Civilization.

@Dav Is there any more reason to believe the character is a "him" vice a "her"? I see a little girl struggling to stay upright on her skates amidst hulking ice hogs. But your childhood may have been different than mine :)

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The real problem, at least for us here at JIG, is that the Flash game market has become so fiercely competitive since we began providing game reviews that unless we get a game up right away we risk having people find out about it from another site first.

That only has to happen once or twice before visitors begin to check the other site first, and we lose valuable community traffic.

Writing a proper review for a game takes time and consideration. And even though we want to provide thoughtful, careful analysis of all the games we feature, the fact is we're in a race with all the copy cat sites out there.

This game, in particular, was sprung on us just this morning without any advance warning. So, we honestly did our best to get something up in a relatively short timeframe.

One benefit to having an intelligent community as we enjoy here at JIG is that if something is lacking or in error in one of our reviews, someone from the community offers up the information or correction, and even an occasional translation.

No one person or reviewer could possibly have all that collective knowledge available while writing a review. That, I believe, is one of this site's greatest strengths.

So, thank you kindly for helping in that regard. =)

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And why does the lil guy still want ice cream in such a cold day? lolz..

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I'm getting tired of Nitrome.

Every one of their games suffers from touch detection issues. In this game, monsters and ice are sometimes hit prematurely and that damn ice line does not always pop even though it is closed.

To top it all I just finished the second level with

the re-spawn smaller monsters

... only the level did not end even though all the monsters were dead, took me ages to get them all as well.

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Sky, I had the same problem with level...18 was it? The second one with the multiplying monsters.

It took me so long to beat that level that I didn't feel like going through a second time. Hopefully the bug will be fixed soon!
-Trent

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Jay: I hadn't thought of the competition aspect. I suppose it is a tug-of-war between speed and depth, and with the internet being the instant society that it is, speed often wins out. I can appreciate that. And despite my misgivings about today's review, I still appreciate all the work that goes into making JIG what it is. It is my one-stop source for casual gaming on the internet because of all that work and care (and because of the community here, as you mentioned).

And as rooted as some of us still may be in a paper culture, the fact is that the internet allows for maximum flexibility. While I think a "post first, ask questions later" attitude can be taken too far, I also think that this flexibility can be an advantage. I noticed that the review has been amended to reflect the information in the comments--and I think that more than makes up for any initial flubs.

So, to the JIG team: keep up the good work! You are appreciated.

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I love this game- so funny and addictive!

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If the two speeds were not equal, you'd soon have either a very long line or no line at all!

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Brent Silby November 28, 2007 11:24 PM

Nice game, and great review. I particularly liked the reference to Quantum, which is not a well known arcade title. But it did introduce this gameplay mechanic. It's always good to put things in a historical context. It's interesting.

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Jay, you and the site rock, don't worry.

The last truly awesome nitrome game was off the rails. Difficult and innovative. I loved Head Case, and I like this game a lot. The only problem with twang was the control issues. Perhaps Nitrome could put a little more polish on the games, but I'm having fun.

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Hmm... I love this website. I tire of Nitrome.

Opinions of Nitrome seem to be a mixed bag these days. I appreciate their ability to put out an large volume of polished-looking games in a short amount of time, but I always feel like they could be doing more. The graphics are always a pleasure but as a whole, Nitrome really doesn't feel innovative to me at all. Simply reusing an idea with your own graphics and characters doesn't strike me as innovative--it's really just rehashing. I don't mind their use of ideas and gameplay mechanics that have been around, and sometimes the best games are remakes of older ones. However, I want to see more.

With such staggering potential to really shatter some boundaries between gamers, gaming, and the expectations of both, I really feel Nitrome could be delivering some pretty great stuff. They obviously have the time and the ability--they just need to put it all to optimal use. So once again, I, a humble game, beckon Nitrome to deliver what casual gamers (and "hardcore" gamers alike) long for--something genuinely fresh, thought-provoking, innovative...Whatever you want to call it.

With that being said, what frustrates me the most about this game is that to move I have to hold down the mouse button. After just a few minutes my finger began to ache. The gameplay is fun and a bit more fast-paced (Nitrome must be listening to us, I think, or someone!) but the enemies are still sluggish and are only challenging due to the collision detection system, as previously stated.

Sorry if this post was a bit harsh, but I enjoy debate! And I love JIG.

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I've rethought my position I stated earlier. I've now played the game more and I like it a lot more. I consider it up to par with nitromes other games.

btw, to beat the spawn monsters (and I don't know how to do the spoiler thing)

When they are about to shoot out of the ice, re draw a circle and re drown the spawn.

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I don't know. I'm getting so tired of Nitrome and their design aesthetic. Their games are more often than not sluggish and completely unforgiving.

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I must say, I really love nitrome games, the art is brilliant, the ideas are quite fresh etc. But there are some negative points on nitrome nonetheless.

One is that they always use the same template, the same layout for their menus and HUD. That might not be a really bad thing, but I find it a bit annoying from time to time.

Other thing is, that it looks like they're using the same formula all the time, creating a unique idea and then creating some levels with common enemies/gameplay. That's also not a really bad point, since the games are still super unique and stuff.

Thin ice is a great game, but the controls take a while to get used too, it's also a bit annoying that the carving doesn't work all the time (although there is a circle, it does not create a hole).

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I don't know...

I would never go over to a site just because they put the game up earlier, if the only place I could get commentary with real perspective was here. Also as Jay mentioned, the forums here are generally full of intelligent people who are happy to help each other out, and that community is pretty cool to watch. So, I don't know... you may have more leeway than you think to ensure you're providing a quality product. I bet your fans are pretty loyal, like me.

Also, as I was reminded after my little outburst in the comments of Pest Control (was that the recent flyswatter game?) it's important not to forget that JayIsGames comes

ABSOLUTELY FREE

to you, and that most all of the games it reviews are

ABSOLUTELY FREE

and so if you get disgruntled that they either doesn't meet unreasonably high standards for something that is

100% FREE

you only have yourself to blame if you walk around complaining all the time. ;)

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I agree with elemeno with regards to JIG. Jay, you really have nothing to worry about. Every single game you put up is absolutely worth the jump in some way. I have checked out every single nitrome game that has been posted here and even though I usually dislike them, I find something redeeming about all of them and can definitely see why people like them. It's about quality. If people want games instantly from the publishers, they can go to the source. If they want to filter through all the crud out there (and there is a lot of it) and find and support independent and casual game developers, they can come here. Personally, I think for a lot of us the latter option has more pull.

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As someone who visits this site quite a bit, I always find it interesting to read the comments and their associated controversies. This topic is especially interesting to me, as I always prefer quality over quantity. This is best exemplified in the last competition--there were too many entries of subpar quality and I started to lose interest in playing any of the games. If JIG is going to try and post as many links and games as possible as quickly as possible, you may as well get rid of the reviews all together. On an associated note, I once read that JIG would only post games that were inherently enjoyable--in other words, I could trust that any game that was posted and reviewed would be fun on some level.

If the goal is to get as many hits and generate as much ad revenue as possible, then I think this site will grow into a different site that I will stop visiting. If the goal is to continue to provide high quality reviews and links to high quality games, I will continue to visit. If the latter is an economic impossibility, then perhaps it is time to change the business model.

Just my two (or three) cents.

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Thanks to everyone for your kind and considerate feedback. Our emphasis here at JIG has always been and will always continue to be on quality over quantity. That will not change.

But that doesn't change the fact that sometimes a quality game will appear all over the Web before we have had a chance to compose a proper review for it. Then, when we do publish the review, we receive comments like "Oh, I played this one last week over at such and such a site."

It's the people who are posting those comments that we are concerned about losing.

So, while there are people who visit here like Davil, we also get those who visit just for the games, and we want to provide relevant, timely content to those visitors as well.

The competition on the Web is fierce, and we work hard every day to earn your continued visits. And yet we must make money to be able to continue to provide a quality service to you.

Your feedback is valuable to us and we listen to everything you say.

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wired 1139 November 29, 2007 4:09 PM

I love that music!!!

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Jay, the funny thing is that this all depends on who you're catering to. When you look at it, gamers like Davil (whose comment I also agreed with) and me are, in a way, categorically more "casual" than those gamers that visit sites like this looking only for the "next available thing."

What I mean is, those kind of gamers are probably playing a larger volume of games than me, and as such are more fervent and less "casual" than I am about their gaming. In a way, your site was originally designed for gamers like me, and has become even more geared toward us (with the change in site name to "casual gameplay" even though I refuse to call it that and will always refer to it as Jayisgames or JIG).

Not that this is a bad thing. Obviously those gamers that play more and more are always welcome, so it's not like JIG is some exclusive club. It's just here to pick out the best of the best on the net, and it succeeds.

On another note, I actually play a lot of games online. I'm constantly browsing sites looking for games. However, since I don't always want to just hang out on websites waiting for developers to update their sites, I wait for JIG to give me a hint as to where the next fun thing is. Still, games sometimes pop up that I've played, but I use it as an opportunity to, say, reappreciate that game, if you will.

Just a thought.

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You know, i've never been much of a "hardcore" gamer, and i just come to JIG because i like being able to be able to play quality games without having to sort through all the other non-quality games before i find one. I've never cared all that much how long a game's been out before i play it, i'm just looking for some casual entertainment in my spare time.

I mostly like nitromes work, especially their highly polished graphics. I especially liked twang. My only problem with this game is the weak collision detection, which drives me absoloutely insane. (i'm stuck at the first level with the spawning monsters)

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Well how about this compromise?

It seems like JIG needs to cater to two types of audience: 1) the ones who are just trolling for the latest game, that will hit this website every day (maybe multiple times) and would be disappointed if the reviews came out a little later and possibly look at other sites. This is where the revenue comes from, however.

2) As this forum clearly shows, there are people at this website who are looking to get more in-depth commentary and discussion, who are willing to wait a while to get it. Is it possible to please both parties all of the time?

Here's a possible solution to allow reviewers the time they need to do background research, to really provide criticism, philosophical commentary, etc. to games that show up on this website (should that be the direction the JIG staff wants to take things):

Why not post every game in a Link Dump format on the main page the second it comes out, and then link the review to it later? Or, the reviews could continue in the main page and the link dump of the very latest games could be in a sidebar. Now you're satisfying to a great extent both of your audiences. Hits increase exponentially, step 3: profit.

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It's great that this kind of conversation can happen here and it not just degenerate into a flame war.

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Elemeno, you're on the right track I think. I would also recommend that if JIG were to do that, that they make the link dump formatted post separate from the reviews so as not to create a situation in which posts are sliding off of the page quicker than we can read them. I'm not sure how this would be done, but I bet it would be pretty easy. Maybe format the page into two columns or something, with one column being a "fast look" column in which all contributers--any visitor to JIG, really--can sub games, ala Lazylaces. Then there is a separate column much like the page is formatted now, with in-depth reviews from fantastic people.

Come to think of it, this is starting to feel like a really cool idea.

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Nitrome has something alike in every game.I wish I knew what is was though.

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My problem is with the ill-considered complaint about the receding of the player's trail. It disappears at the same rate it's created at because otherwise it would either disappear or get infinitely long.

Now, maybe a game with an-ever growing trail would be fun, but its silly to say that the game lacks polish because you didn't like chasing your tail, when this essential to the game. And saying it's "as simple as changing a variable", when doing so would create a completely different kind of gameplay as a side effect, is unfair.

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Like Twang, the last level is...

A Sunday afternoon stroll in the park

...compared to other levels.

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On the last level, does anyone know where the 'N' in 'BONUS' is, please? I can find the other 4 letters easy enough...

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I found the complaint about the receding trail very valid.

Saying that it disappears too quickly is not the same as saying that it shouldn't disappear at all. This is where tweaking a variable would come in - it's not an unreasonable assumption that the effective length of your trail would be determined by a single value (as in the amount it "fades" per frame, or the duration after which it starts receding).

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I agree with both Philipp and Alex.

As I mentioned waaaay up there ^^ and Alex nicely fleshed out, making the trail recede at a slower rate than the player means that you could end up with an infinitely long trail, as you are putting it down faster than it can be created. This would make a significant change to the gameplay.

However, like Patrick and Philipp suggest, the chasing-your-tail effect can be very frustrating. Instead of having a trail that keeps getting longer and longer, why not have a longer trail to begin with? It's like the difference between tying a knot in an inch-long piece of string vs. a foot-long piece. You don't need to have the string grow to make it easier to tie.

So in conclusion, I believe that although Patrick's intent was valid, his wording could have been better.

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There's always ONE level that doesn't load :(
That's that score gone out of the window- again.

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Stupid game wont go past the 18th level!
and sometimes the ice doesnt fall in even after you closed the loop.

thats what i hate about this game

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Dr. Pepsi December 2, 2007 6:37 PM

I beat level 18 FOUR TIMES!!
Killed all the enemies, and the level won't complete.

I feel stupid skating around with nothing to do.
PLEASE FIX THIS GLARING MASSIVE BUG NITROME!

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I know a glitch.
If you just started a new game, click on another level and thn move the mouse away really fast. It will turn to from the ? to the level 1 but when you move your mouse over it , it goes back to a ?.
Also, I have a question. Can you sink everything?Icicles?Snowmen( I don't know why but its an obstacle)

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Can you sink anything??????

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I finished level 18 three times and the level don't complete.Grrrrrrrrrrrr

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You can't sink snowmen or icicles. It does look kind of weird when you skate around the snowman and he's floating on the water, though.

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byebyebaby December 8, 2007 8:00 PM

okay. I am in LOVE with nitrome.
Nitrome, you guys and gals rule. You've done so much good work and produced a high volume of fun and entertaining games :)
Great work!

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Night-Claw December 11, 2007 4:46 PM

I enjoy every one of Nitrome's games. Unique and fun, this one hits it on the line. One thing that have to complain about is the bounce effect. When you get frozen in a corner, you bounce into the crystal constantly, remaining frozen for a while. When hit by a monster, you bounce between another monster or a wall until you die.

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How do you beat level 15?

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Quick stupid question: I have completed all the levels and got a score of 38,000ish. But when I submit my score, I see that there are scores in the 200,000 range! How is that possible? What am I missing?

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Ben Henry May 13, 2008 8:23 PM

How do you beat lv 19, do you have to do something to the underwater worm thing?

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No. Just stay away from the underwater worm thing--when you get everything else, the level is won. Gee, that sounds so easy! Truthfully, 19 is a pain!

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ganondorf champion May 28, 2008 4:09 PM

I hate the annoying ice serpent. It is the worst on the last level.I also hate the knock back,thin ice (obstacle),shortness of line and the splitting birds!

why are they birds?

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Visitor July 17, 2008 1:02 PM

There's an annoying boss at Level 15. Help!

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