The 10 Greatest Snow Levels In Video Game History Source:

Come December, snow plays a major role in the lives of many. The cold winter arrives, days become shorter and a white wonderland replaces the surroundings. While winter can be attractive for many, there is also clear relief when spring begins to near. However, video games taking place in a cold climate can be enjoyed any time from the comfort of a living room. There is a satisfying element to seeing a snowy, frozen terrain while nestled comfortably in a warm home. The following are the 10 most memorable levels or sections of games that take place in the snow.

10. “Snowpeak Ruins” – The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

“Snowpeak Ruins,” along with its haunting melody, is one of the more unique dungeons in the Zelda universe. Rather than being the typical temple or abandoned sanctuary, “Snowpeak Ruins” is a giant manor that has been overtaken by the cold. Slippery floors and frozen foes infest this mansion located high in the snowy mountains. In order to arrive at the ruins, a frozen lake must first be traversed. If Link touches the water, he freezes. This sets the tone for how cold the area will be and is a refreshing challenge. Of course, the highlight of the trek to the ruins is the encounter with a Yeti who opens up a snowboarding mini-game. Link on a snowboard is not something audiences ever envisioned seeing and is indicative of the imagination present in this game. “Snowpeak Ruins” as a total area has a distinct winter feel and is one of the greatest snow areas ever created. Source:

9. “Hoth” – Star Wars Battlefront

Developers have been attempting to recreate the infamous battle of Hoth from The Empire Strikes Back for nearly 30 years. While some have been moderately successful, such as Shadows of the Empire on the Nintendo 64 and the GameCube’s Rogue Squadron 3, none have come even close to presenting the realistic version that 2015’s Star Wars Battlefront created. Say what you will about the game’s lasting appeal and overall quality, but there are some undeniable facts at play. Firstly, Battlefront features the most visually stunning snow ever seen in video games, as the winter conditions are leaps and bounds ahead of graphical competitors. And secondly, successfully portraying “Hoth,” one of the absolute favorite scenes for many fans of the Star Wars series, deserves the accolade of being one of the best snow levels in video game history, despite what the remainder of the game may hold. Source:

8. “A Rock and a Hard Place” – Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

The opening of Uncharted 2 sees Nathan Drake awakening on a train carriage only to discover that it is hanging dangerously on the edge of a cliff. High atop a mountain, the camera pans out to reveal the carriage is hanging by a thread. Gamers must shimmy on the railing around the side of the train in an exhilarating opening perfected by the wintery landscape. Snow is falling and the mountains are illustrated perfectly. While Nathan is still hanging on for his life, falling boulders from the mountain rain down and remind gamers of the dangers that nature presents. This is not the only time the Uncharted series will venture into a winter landscape, but this majestic opening chapter presents the conditions the best. The harsh realism of the terrain is compounded with the gorgeous graphics, giving the area an immersive feeling and heightening the absolute danger present in the area. Source:

7. “Cool Cool Mountain” – Super Mario 64

The first snow level in the initial 3D Mario adventure is an incredible and unforgettable stage that provides immense enjoyment. The slippery slide after jumping down the cottage chimney is ridiculously addictive and becomes moderately more difficult the second time through when a giant penguin arrives to race. The slide is so much fun it could have been a stage on its own. Featuring many elements that define winter conditions, from a gusty breeze to a snowman throwing snowballs, “Cool Cool Mountain” is spectacular fun in the snow. Guiding a snowman’s body back to its head brings the joy of winter to the forefront for gamers. Carrying a baby penguin back to its mother is another iconic moment from this stage. Surely, many gamers have memories involving dropping the penguin off of the edge of the stage. The memories of this slippery level are endless and it will forever be a timeless classic. Source:

6. “Icicle Inn Village” – Final Fantasy VII

Discovering Icicle Inn during an initial playthrough is a real shock. After being accustomed to the lush forests and green backdrops, gamers arrive at the Northern continent at the commencement of the second disk during Final Fantasy VII and are immediately met with a shock as winter has overtaken the landscape. Icicle Inn is a snowy town tucked away in the frigid continent. Leading to a snowboarding mini-game which would go on to become its own complete mobile game, Icicle Inn is packed with things to do. The town functions as a resort and players can surely feel relaxed as they draw into the beautiful town. With snow falling all year round, the town looks beautiful and is one of the graphical set pieces from Final Fantasy VII that holds up the best. Icicle Inn is a unique area that perfectly encapsulates the cold. Source:

5. “Freezeezy Peak” – Banjo-Kazooie

This ingeniously-titled stage is one of the most inventive and original snow stages ever created. The stage is clearly cold and Banjo and Kazooie will need to perform all their moves (and one they will learn during a later stage) in order to escape this level and thaw. Featuring a festive Christmas backdrop in the form of a giant Christmas tree and presents that players must collect, “Freezeezy Peak” makes it clear that winter is the theme. Christmas events are not often found in video games; however, Banjo-Kazooie presents the holiday in a tremendously tasteful way that is simply viewed as fun and not seen as offensive. This winter wonderland has giant snowmen to climb and sleds to race, as every event that unfolds has a distinct winter feel to it. With a catchy soundtrack that is matched by very few stages, “Freezeezy Peak” is one of the most charming snow stages around. Source:

4. “Cliffhanger” – Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

Dressing warmly has never been more important than during “Cliffhanger,” the third mission of Modern Warfare 2. Navigating an icy mountain in Kazakhstan, the mission has the player side-stepping narrow ledges prior to climbing up a frozen wall with ice axes. With blowing snow throughout the experience, the arctic elements are out in full force during this intense mission. What begins as a stealth level quickly evolves into a high-speed chase on snowmobiles through the frozen tundra. The Call of Duty series generally nails action sequences, and with the immense pleasure of playing in the snow, Modern Warfare 2 provides one of the most intense snow levels in existence. This may prove surprising to some that have disregarded the series recently; however, “Cliffhanger” is a mission that simply must be experienced. Source:

3. “Phendrana Drifts” – Metroid Prime

“Phendrana Drifts” is a detailed, frozen environment rife with areas to explore. It is one of the most memorable areas that Samus Aran has ever conquered, and its legacy can surely be attributed to the gorgeous environment. The snow-coated land presents the climate in excellent fashion, as the frigid nature of the area will have gamers cuddling for warmth. The falling snow is an element of beauty throughout the stage. One aspect that stands out from the rest is the legendary soundtrack of Metroid Prime. “Phendrana Drifts” features a haunting mix led with piano and provides excellent ambiance to the stage. The music is the perfect representation of the cold climate and manages to capture the tranquility of the snowy world on sound alone. Prior to Metroid Prime, it wasn’t clear that music could so perfectly represent a snowy area, but “Phendrana Drifts” showcases the importance of music to a stage. Source:

2. “Snowhead Temple” – The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask

The second dungeon in Majora’s Mask, this temple is located on Snowhead Mountain at the top of an ice formation. Compounding the treacherous terrain is that the temple is guarded by an invisible Goron blowing a blizzard in Link’s direction. The Goron is only visible with the Lens of Truth equipped. Link must put the Goron to sleep prior to traversing the menacing dungeon filled with frozen monsters and collapsing ice pillars. This all leads to an encounter with a very clever boss named “Goht.” This mechanical bull is quite difficult for an early Zelda boss and requires the use of the Goron mask in order to roll after him. “Snowhead Temple” as a whole is a very difficult temple that must be navigated through quickly due to the time constraints present in the game’s plot. This sense of urgency heightens the excitement and the winter conditions surely play a factor. Source:

1. “Lakeside Resort” – The Last of Us

Snow is one of the hardest elements to properly illustrate in a video game as the harsh conditions of a winter area rarely translate well to the living room. However, developer Naughty Dog has proven that nobody can craft realistic graphics in the same tier as them, and The Last of Us is a special game that graphically presents the cold like no game has managed to do. The area opens with gamers taking control of Ellie by herself for the first time. The falling snow is beautifully animated and the cold winter is reflected in every minute detail. Seeing the snow particles on Ellie’s clothes or the snow being brushed off her horse are elements that must be witnessed. The snow-covered forest is a gorgeous area that feels immersive despite the seemingly-simple white of winter occupying the majority of the palette. When gamers regain control of Joel, he is seeking to find Ellie after she has been captured and must navigate a blistering snowstorm. Visibility is reduced in this perfect example of an intense winter snow area. Source: YouTube

Colin Anderson

DWitzman has been writing about video games, movies, tv and more for Goliath since 2016.