If you combined the NES classic Ice Climber with Pogo Stick footwear and a healthy dose of frenzied mania, you'd start to get an idea of what Icy Tower is like. Climbing to the top of a crumbling building is one thing, but doing it with bouncy shoes strapped to your tootsies while moving at a rocket speed pace? It's official — arcade style craziness has finally come to Facebook.
The latest craze on Facebook for the twitch-minded gamer, Icy Tower places you in a crumbling tower with an infinite number of floors above you. You'll need to run and jump from platform to platform and get as high as you can before the crumbling levels below finally catch up to you.
The controls themselves are fairly simple – you'll just use the arrow keys to go back and forth and the space bar to jump – but using them to their fullest has a bit of a learning curve. The trick to succeeding in Icy Tower is creating combos of improbably large jumps, and creating these jumps takes a little more skill than hopping from platform to platform. You'll need to get a bit of speed by running in one direction, jump at a wall, and then jump in the opposite direction the moment you make contact. It takes a little bit to master, but once you get the hang of it you'll be completing 50 floor combos like a pro.
Being a Facebook game, Icy Towers needs a social aspect to succeed and doesn't fail to bring one to the table. They've incorporated the traditional “friends leaderboard” scoring competition directly into the game, meaning your friends avatars will be sitting on their highest floor for you to pass whenever you reach their best height. The game also promises a Challenge mode that will pit your skills directly against a friend's, but as of this writing the mode has yet to be introduced. Also featured is a good selection of clothing and styling choices for your avatar, which can make them stand out in a crowd when engaging in the game's social elements.
The biggest problem with Icy Tower, outside of the somewhat tricky learning curve with the controls, is how desperately the developers want you to buy coins. Both wardrobe choices and unlocking new towers require a large amount of coins be spent, yet earning them through play is exceedingly difficult. Coins are scattered through each tower that you will collect one by one. In an average 2 or 3 minute session, you might collect 5 or 6 coins. Now contrast that to the 2500 coins it takes to unlock a new tower. You'd have to play Icy Tower for months to unlock both additional towers, let alone get your style on.
There are other ways to get coins, of course, and this is what the developers seem to be counting on. You can purchase coins directly through the game using a variety of payment methods (coin bundles start at $2 for 1000) or you can participate in any number of affiliate offers. While it's entirely possible that some of these offers are legit, one can't help but be reminded of the lessons learned from Zynga's ScamVille debacle. Completing affiliate offers for in-game cash is a questionable practice at best, but Icy Tower tries to shove the idea down your throat every chance it gets. You can't go more than a handful of rounds without having to sit through a 10 second ad for getting more coins the quick and dirty way.
There's some trickiness in learning the skills you'll need to school your friends, but once you've acclimatized yourself to the controls you're likely to find that Icy Tower is a fairly addictive fast-paced arcade game that's incredibly hard to put down. Unbalanced shopping and the constant push for coin purchases put a damper on the experience, but if you can look past those you're going to find a Facebook game that appeals to the frenzied competitor in all of us.