Frost Bite 2
New from the snowy peaks of Mt. Nitrome (the same team that crafted In the Dog House, Toxic II, Mutiny, and others) comes Frost Bite 2, a direct follow-up to last year's Frost Bite platforming game. Work your way up the snowy mountain peaks using a grappling hook that can latch onto almost anything. Stomp or harpoon enemies to clear them out of your way and move boxes to reach high spots. A few new tricks can be found up Frost Bite 2's fuzzy parka sleeve, just enough to make it feel like a brand new adventure.
Frost Bite 2 keeps to the frozen path carved by the original game, so most of the visuals and gameplay elements will remain the same. Use the [arrow] or [WASD] keys to move around the screen and the mouse to aim and fire the grappling hook. You can use the hook to grab and swing from most ledges, platforms, and a handful of other objects. It also doubles as a harpoon for spearing dangerous foes and can be used to tug certain items around the stage. I hear it even shines shoes and makes a mean fruit smoothie, but Frost Bite 2 doesn't explore that part of the hook's resume...
Before each level begins a wonderfully succinct goal flashes before your eyes: CLIMB! You wouldn't want to disobey a single word imperative, would you? So, start going up, grappling and swinging from platforms, hopping across small gaps, and avoiding or dispatching enemies that get in your way. Frozen power-ups in the form of ice cream can be collected for bonus points, health and extra lives, and you can grab them either by touching them or sending the hook in their direction. Keep an eye out for letters hovering around, too, as collecting and spelling B-O-N-U-S in each level will earn you a... well... a bonus!
Analysis: It's hard to argue with a game like Frost Bite 2, especially when it follows the already successful Frost Bite. As usual, Nitrome has managed to keep a sequel on the tracks of the original without producing something stale and lifeless. Instead, Frost Bite 2 is just as fun and unique as a sequel should be, with enough extras to re-invent the frost-bitten wheel.
The gameplay limitations of Frost Bite 2, while necessary to make the game challenging (and rewarding), sometimes made me want a power-up that let me go crazy. For example, you can't fire the grappling hook downwards, which makes a lot of sense in terms of design, but I really, really wanted to do it! Plus, the rope's length feels very short, which, again, is required so you can have obstacles to overcome. But every once in a while I wanted to grab a power-up that let me go postal, firing the grappling hook in all directions and stabbing every platform within view. Just sayin'.
But really, Frost Bite 2 is just plain fun, and it certainly accomplishes its goal of being an amusing (and cute) diversion. If Super Mario Bros. met Bionic Commando atop a snowy mountain, this would be the result.