Rumor: Are the Ice Climbers Ready to Rock n’ Roll?

The release of Super Smash Bros. Melee saw one very unexpected addition to its roster… or, should I say two?

Nana and Popo, known collectively as the Ice Climbers, made their first appearance since the earliest days of the NES, where they starred in 1985’s appropriately titled Ice Climber. Fun fact: In some countries in Europe, the game actually came with the NES. Is it any wonder Nintendo had a harder time developing a foothold over there?

However, between that game and Melee, they really didn’t do much of anything. Melee brought them back into the spotlight, and gained the duo some new fans, but after that, it was back into obscurity, short of the odd re-release of the original game via outlets such as Animal Crossing, the Virtual Console, Nintendo’s NES Classics line of Game Boy Advance titles, and the handheld’s short-lived eReader peripheral.

But looking back at the original title, it’s not hard to see why the Ice Climbers had not been reintroduced to society via a new game; short of a Pac-man: Championship Edition-esque remake, it’s hard to see the concept being stretched much further than it has already gone, and being turned into a game which players could sit down and enjoy for hours on end.

There are those who complained about little diversification beyond “island paradise resort” in Super Mario Sunshine; how would gamers feel about spending that time on an icy glacier? Could anything more be done with the Ice Climber concept?

Maybe… but maybe not exactly.

With the dawn of the Wii, Nintendo revitalized one of its original hit NES (and later, N64) franchises with Excitebike. Except, rather than making a new Excitebike, they dumped the “bike” part, and instead went with “big ass trucks.” Now, the Excite brand is ready to soon see its fourth title, Excitebots: Trick Racing, with a new game being released in less than three years after the last, with both following very lengthy periods of dormancy not unlike Ice Climber.

And according to Siliconera, who has done some investigative reporting into the all-seeing, all-telling archive of Australia’s Office of Film and Literature Classification, and discovered what sounds like a new “Climber” game that they suspect could mark a return for the brand:

The name Rock n’ Roll Climber sounds like it could be a spiritual sequel to one of Nintendo’s oldest games doesn’t it? The OFLC rated such a game with Nintendo as the publisher and Vitei as the developer.

You may not recognize the name, but Vitei has developed a handful of games for Nintendo including 1080 Snowboarding and most recently Theta, a rotating puzzle game only released in Japan. Hmm… what could Rock n’ Roll Climber be?

What, indeed? Personally, as a lover of Nintendo’s old franchises as well as their new ones, I do hope that perhaps Nana and Popo — or at least their influence — will get a new shot in the limelight.

The knee-jerk inclination is to believe that this will be a music game of some kind, which is a fair enough assumption, as the title does bear the name “Rock n’ Roll.” At the same time, given that the game sounds like it will feature some sort of “climbing,” one must also consider it may simply be a pun of sorts, based on rock climbing. Or, perhaps it could even be both?

Then again, for all we know, this has absolutely nothing to do with the Ice Climbers at all.

Time will tell. Additionally, one has to wonder if this title has anything to do with this mysterious message from Nintendo’s PR people. Of course, that letter said “more than 10 years ago,” while Ice Climber began more than twenty. While technically, yes, more than twenty is also more than ten, one is left to wonder why they wouldn’t just say that, if the two do indeed have anything to do with each other.