Top 10 Snow Levels in Games


Snow levels in games, despite their frigid conditions, are some of the most beloved experiences in gaming. Video games typically use these types of levels to offer off-the-wall challenges, to signal a change in season or tone, or to capture our attention with feelings of warmth and nostalgia.

If you want to hear the conversations behind this list, you should check out the Leaderboard podcast, the show where we discuss, debate, and often argue about the games that should make this list.

So, with that being said, here are the Top 10 Snow Levels in Games.

10) Cliffhanger – Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

snow levels

In Cliffhanger, you are thrown into blizzard-like conditions on the Tian Shan mountain range of Kazakhstan. The mission has you scaling icy cliffs in heart-pounding real time and taking calculated, stealthy steps while hidden in a veil of frozen winds where only your heartbeat sensor can help take out the baddies before they find you. Cliffhanger is a perfect roller coaster of pulse-quickening climbing experiences and high stakes hide and seek that erupts in a way that will have you holding your breath until it’s all over!

– Brandon Wilson

9) Battle of Hoth – Star Wars: Shadow of the Empire

shadows of the empire

With regard to the Star Wars universe, Hoth is the quintessential frozen wasteland and where better to stash a hidden Rebel base? While there have undoubtedly been more visually stunning realizations of Hoth in the years since, Shadow of the Empire was the pioneer in consummating an iconic Hoth experience: letting you bring an AT-AT to its knees with nothing more than a snow speeder and a tow cable. The sense of accomplishment when the AT-AT falls was and remains incredibly gratifying.

– Brandon Wilson

8) Forsaken Cainhurst Castle – Bloodborne

best snow levels

Cainhurst Castle is what you get if you were to shove a Gothic nightmare into a snow globe. A castle isolated far away from the rest of Yharnam, the setting of Bloodborne, Cainhurst Castle is everything but a winter wonderland. Fiendish gargoyle monsters lie in wait, horrendous blood-spewing quadrupeds stalk the courtyard outside and the spirit of a woman haunts the halls of the castle and that’s before addressing the scythe-wielding self proclaimed martyr that awaits you on the rooftop. The facade of this frosted over castle hides secrets best left buried.

– Moises Taveras

7) Holiday Broadcasting – Gex 3: Deep Cover Gecko

top 10 snow levels

The Gex series is known for its edgy parodying of popular media. Gex 3’s first level, Holiday Broadcasting, is no exception. In this Christmas themed level, Gex fights elves, frees his friend from a block of ice, and defeats an evil Santa Claus. All of this, while the player gets to explore an eerie winter wonderland. Snow levels are often known for their presence in platformers but unlike other games, Gex 3 begins with its snow level and it’s understandable why. Holiday Broadcasting’s late 90’s attitude and dry humor sets the tone for Gex 3.

– Blessing Adeoye

6) Mount Wario – Mario Kart 8 

mount wario

Mario Kart games are well known for their various snow-covered race tracks, but none compare to the legendary Mount Wario. The icy mountain sends players on quite the treacherous adventure, wherein they’ll barrel down a slippery peak, through river-filled caverns, across a wooded frontier, and then finally, onto the slopes of a ski resort. Not only is it one of the most well designed Mario Kart levels, but Mount Wario challenges racers with a myriad of different driving hazards and fun obstacles that make the track one of the best in the series.

– Alex Van Aken

5) Winter – Animal Crossing: New Leaf

animal crossing winter

Every year in Animal Crossing: New Leaf, when Winter inevitably comes around, Jingle the Reindeer visits town and brings with him snow, sweaters, lights, and best of all, holiday cheer. From late November until the end of February, players are able to participate in a myriad of activities, including building snowmen, visiting igloos across town, and delivering presents to villagers after collecting the Santa Claus outfit. On top of the many different things to do during the winter months, the game’s environment is absolutely gorgeous. Multi-colored lights dangle across the trees, Christmas decorations fill the player’s home, and the world is blanketed in snow. Animal Crossing: New Leaf near perfectly captures holiday cheer and warmth, and it’s one of the best representations of wintry months in video games.

– Alex Van Aken

4) Freezeezy Peak – Banjo Kazooie

banjo kazooie

This holiday-themed level is the fifth world in Banjo Kazooie, wherein the titular characters visit a frozen peak that’s home to Christmas Trees, snow sledding slopes, and a new ability for players to unlock. Freezeezy Peak offers a variety of mini-games for the player to complete, like an exercise in which they have to assist a group of animated lights safely make it to their home in the Christmas tree. Freezeezy Peak embodies the silliness and lighthearted fun of the Banjo Kazooie series and manages to be one of the most memorable 3D platformer levels in existence. What other game would let me transform into a plump walrus to face-off against a polar bear in a sled race?

– Alex Van Aken

3) Canada – Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3

best snow levels

This classic level of Tony Hawk captures much of what makes the series great. It has the classic skate park area decorated with quarter pipes and rails for the purists who want to rack up a high score. However, what pushes this level far and above is the surrounding area around the skate park. The backwoods provide the player with trees to grind around and difficult but satisfying tasks to complete. Objectives such as “bury that bully!” see you drench an aggravating teen in a pile of snow never to be seen again. Another objective, “Impress The Skaters”, asks the player to perform tricks in front of edgy, early 2000’s skaters as they compliment you in their Canadian accents. Canada may just be drenched in snow but it is one of the shining examples of the humor and overall level design that makes the Tony Hawk games memorable.

– Blessing Adeoye

2) Winter – The Last of Us

snow levels

Snow can be both beautiful and disastrously ugly and that’s exactly how The Last of Us’ Winter portion begins and ends. It’s difficult thinking of a snow level these days without immediately recalling this. What was already a dark and dire game magnified intensely as Naughty Dog decided to incapacitate their leading man and put the player in the shoes of Ellie, the young girl they’d been ferrying across America up till that point. Ellie, in the role of guardian for the first time, receives a harrowing firsthand experience in how capable of cruelty the world is. Cold doesn’t even begin to describe the dread this portion of the game instills. For the back half of it, snow besets and blinds you on all sides as you try to maneuver characters through two perspectives of the same story. As everything brilliantly goes up in flames, characters come together and have their resolves tested in ways games have shied away from for as long as they’ve been around you can’t help but feel that this is it: this is the perfectly grim culmination of these characters arcs.

– Moises Taveras

Honorable Mentions:

  1. January – Persona 4

  2. The Mountain – Journey

1) Cool Cool Mountain – Super Mario 64

mario snow level

Levels as iconic as Cool Cool Mountain are a dime a dozen these days. The first star on the level being the ice slide with the fake wall? Infamous! Escorting the baby penguin to their mother? Classic. Kicking the mothers ass on the ice course immediately after? Legendary. Rolling a snowball missing a head down to the snowman head missing a body and watching them come together? That’s just straight up heartwarming. Being able to take that baby penguin and launch it off the side of the mountain never to be seen by its mother again? That’s just really funny. The way you’d sink into the snow if you jumped into it from too high a distance? Immaculate. As one of the earliest 3D platformers, Cool Cool Mountain is also the best because of how likely it is that it inspired some of the very best levels featured on this list. Snow levels are as much about mechanics as they are about theme and aesthetic, a fact solidified by Cool Cool Mountain and echoed by any succeeding 3D game with a snow level.

– Moises Taveras

So those are OK Beast’s picks for the best snow levels in games. How do you feel about our list? Are there any levels that you think should’ve been included? To catch up on previous Leaderboard episodes, or to read our other Top 10 lists, click here.

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