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Thin Ice

The history of console gaming is filled with stories of marketing departments screwing up programmers' brilliant ideas. Of course, the history of console gaming was written by programmers, so there may be a slight objectivity issue to consider. However, Thin Ice is a wonderful Intellivision title that Mattel's marketing department held up for so long that the company's electronics division closed down before it could be released. The INTV Corporation bought the rights and sold the game by mail-order in 1986.

Gameplay: Duncan the Penguin loves to skate on the thin ice of modern life, dropping all the other penguins into the frigid Arctic waters below. Seals and polar bears also like to roam around the thin ice, bouncing Duncan around, or whacking him right off the screen.

Your goal is to drop Duncan's buddies into the water by skating around them, while avoiding all the predators. You get five FREEZE opportunities, which will temporarily halt the penguins and polar bears, and you can speed up by eating those shrimp cocktails that are, you know, lying around all over the Arctic.

Could be mistaken for: Pengo, Disco No. 1, Qix

Kids today might not like it because: There isn't a multi-player deathmatch mode that pits polar bears against penguins.

Kids today might like it because: At the end of each level, Duncan hops into a Zamboni and drives it across the screen to resurface the ice. And who hasn't wanted to drive a Zamboni?

Enduring contribution to gaming history: The game's key theme—that there just isn't enough room on the ice for all the penguins and polar bears—sadly predicted today's global warming catastrophe 20 years ago.


Wil Wheaton drags behind him the silent reproach of a million tear-stained eyes.