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Frictionless Ice

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"The ice is slippery. There's nothing you can do about that!"
Elder Xelpud, La-Mulana

A Stock Video Game Puzzle. Ice is not merely slippery; it's a physics-defying miracle lubricant that renders characters unable to make the slightest change in direction until the inevitable collision with an obstacle or wall, or in more malevolent circumstances, until the character is sent hurtling down a bottomless pit or into spikes. So much as a single step of forward momentum is enough to send the character, puzzle block, or otherwise significant object sliding three screens in that direction. Of course, there is no diagonal.

This can turn a simple room into a maze, requiring that the player slides from one obstacle to the next until they reach a location that gives them a clear shot (er, slide) to the exit.

Alternately, it can be combined with a Block Puzzle, where the player can move normally (without sliding) but pushing a block causes it to slide frictionlessly until it hits an obstacle, and the goal is to push blocks to hit a Pressure Plate (bridge a gap, etc.) somewhere in the room.

If there are any enemies on or around the ice, don't expect them to share your lack of friction; this includes flying enemies (but them justifiably so).

This trope does not include instances in games where ice simply hinders movement or reduces friction, but rather situations where the main character is unable to alter his course of movement at all once he's hit a patch of ice.


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    Action Adventure 
  • Many of The Legend of Zelda games, though not being direct examples of this trope, will use a less severe version, where the frictionless status applies only to blocks in a block puzzle. Otherwise, ice will merely hinder Link's movement. In The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Trinexx's Ice Head's frost breath can also freeze the floor and make it real slippery. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker averts this trope completely, instead using more realistic friction for ice.
  • Alundra has this kind of ice block/character movement separation.
  • Star Fox Adventures has two puzzles of this kind involving blocks in the Ocean Force Point Temple. The catch is that the "surface" is not ice, but misty air.
  • Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, Oracle caves. Frictionless ice combined with obstacles that give a recoil effect upon contact along with an obligatory "being hit" noise. You can pinball Kain through a short corridor by luck.
  • In the Ice Room of Ōkamiden, there is one room with frictionless ice. You can move, but it's effectively just an idle animation until you're off the ice.
  • There is no ice on the ground in Ittle Dew, but blocks/bombs become frictionless when frozen. Ittle Dew 2 improves on it with the Ice Ring, whose created ice blocks can be cut in half so they can be pushed diagonally.

    Action Game 
  • The ice in Big Sky Trooper is frictionless. It is entirely possible to get stuck in a permanent loop of bouncing on one planet; after about three minutes, your ship's A.I. declares that it must pull you out and teleports you back to the ship.
  • Bomberman 64: The Second Attack! has at least one battle arena which has this, yet appears far more sci-fi than a Slippy-Slidey Ice World. Even worse, your inertia still applies even after hitting a wall or object, which means you have to cancel THAT out before you can run away from that bomb right next to you!
  • Level 10 of the web game Sky Serpents is a colossus made entirely out of ice (except its weak points) so when the character hits one of its spikes they're sent flying off the creature if there's nothing behind them to stop them.
  • The Matrix: Path of Neo plays with it, as during the only Slippy-Slidey Ice World level, the ice is only frictionless if you walk or run too fast, if you do that it plays straight for a few seconds.

  • RuneScape had a cavern filled with these puzzles as part of a Christmas quest. In the low-level Dungeoneering dungeons, there are occasionally rooms filled with this, as well as a boss battle in a room coated in ice. It's not as difficult as it sounds, thankfully. Thankfully diagonals do exist, or the puzzles would be unsolveable, but the player has to click in the right spot to move along them.
  • Beneficial to the savvy player in Korean golf MMO Pangya: on certain courses, there are lengthy ramps of frictionless ice which players can use to generate ridiculous amounts of Pang Points (on tee shots, every yard the ball rolls over your maximum drive earns 1 point of Over Drive; if you use a power shot, hit your maximum power, AND hit Pangya, you get the Super Pangya bonus which doubles this.) For this reason, Ice Cannon and Ice Spa are very popular courses for pang-farming; even novice players can earn over 1500 pang points in a round.
  • In Final Fantasy XIV, some bosses, such as Shiva, are capable of freezing the ground, making it so moving is difficult without slipping out of control over a long stretch in a single direction until the ice melts. While certain abilities like a Monk's Shoulder Tackle or a Red Mage's Corps-a-Corps can help to an extent, moving while the ground is slippery can be very dangerous: attempting to do so can send players sliding right into a powerful AOE attack, or off the arena and plummeting to their deaths.

    Platform Game 
  • Commander Keen has two kinds of ice. One behaves just as you'd expect it would, reducing Keen's traction, but the other is this trope to a T - the only way to change direction on it is by jumping off and turning around.
  • The Spyro the Dragon series had a variation of this trope; while stepping on ice only hinders the titular character's movements, that also includes jumping, which is virtually impossible until you get on non-icy surfaces. The ice in A Hero's Tail, the first game in the series to give Spyro a Double Jump, allows you to jump once but not twice.
  • Due to an engine trick that can make a Frictionless Hill flat, some users of the Tomb Raider Level Editor texture it as a patch of ice and then recreate this puzzle. At least Lara can still jump while sliding on it.
  • In Monster World IV, one dungeon is an Ice Pyramid. There are slippery bits inside where main character Asha tries to skate across. She can still swing her sword and shield (which is good, as there are enemies on some stretches of ice), but trying to jump will cause Asha to slip and fall, skidding helplessly the rest of the way.
  • Wario Land:
    • Ice in The Shake Dimension has no friction, pushed objects like blocks and Wario when frozen will literally slide across the entire area until they hit a wall.
    • This is the entire point of Frozen Wario. When he gets frozen, he flies backwards like on this type of ice until he hits a wall. It's usually used to bypass spikes and obstacles, since he's invincible when frozen and enemies die on contact, but it's also used as an annoyance in the ice levels.
  • In La-Mulana, many of the platforms in the Graveyard of the Giants are covered with slippery ice.
  • In Ristar, the title character simply can't balance on ice. He slides along it uncontrollably... well, almost uncontrollably. He can still jump. Also, sadly, he can't grab the ice, which means he can't do his grabbing-climbing thing on the ice planet.
  • The final level of Marble Madness has this, as well as sticky and slippery (but not frictionless) floors.
  • In the TurboGrafx-16 version of Impossamole, the second level of the Slippy-Slidey Ice World has frictionless ice sections.
  • Little Samson has ice that every character but Kikira will slip a little on.
  • The first Rayman game.

    Puzzle Game 
  • Chip's Challenge has this trope as a major element of gameplay. There are even curves that cause you to change direction 90 degrees. It also causes you to move twice as quickly. However, if you're wearing the ice skates, you can walk on ice as if it were regular ground (with no speed bonus).
  • Professor Fizzwizzle, which is the image used on this page. He can slide on ice and move automatically like barrels, but then if he lands on ice, he becomes stuck unless a object pushes him from either direction.
  • Professor Layton: Three of the puzzles in Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box, as well as two in Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy, are based around this concept, where you have to get from point A to point B while dealing with ice that will keep you sliding until you hit a wall (note that this also puts you at the risk of falling into cold water, which will make you fail the puzzle if that happens). In Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask, there are three puzzles where you have to make the Emperor Penguin stop at the central tile of the iceberg, and for that you have to make it clash against the smaller penguins (which, unfortunately for them, will get bounced to the cold water upon clash). Lastly, in Layton's Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires' Conspiracy, there's a series of Daily Puzzles where you have to form squared or rectangular groups of penguins by making them slide towards each other in the icy disco stage.
  • Kickle Cubicle is a surprising aversion, given that every playable area is a Slippy-Slidey Ice World. The game does feature "slippery ice," but all it means is areas where Noggles can't walk across and Kickle can't make ice pillars.
  • The ice cubes in Roll Away push the ball forward until you either reach the end or fall off the edge. You can't turn the ball while sliding but you can still bounce it.
  • Jetpack has some platforms covered with ice.
  • SubTerra has both icy floors (which are frictionless to everything, except if you use a powerup to avoid this) and icy blocks (which themselves keep sliding forever).
  • In the Bright Star Technology, Inc. computer games Spelling Jungle and its sequel Spelling Blizzard, mud and ice (respectively) function as this. Boulders (in Spelling Jungle) and giant snowballs or ice blocks (in Spelling Blizzard) can be pushed onto them and move the same way; in addition, ice blocks (which the player can ride on if they're in the water) function like this, making getting onto one and staying there a challenge at times.
  • Later sequels of Quadrax series have friction-less blocks, though they may or may not be made from ice.
  • The Flash game Dwarf Complete has two sections with the Block Puzzle version.
  • Blocks That Matter: Ice blocks are made of this, sliding along a surface until they hit an obstacle or fall off a ledge.

    Racing Game 
  • Ando Prime in Star Wars Episode I: Racer has a frictionless frozen lake.
  • Some tracks in the F-Zero series have this.
  • Not necessarily ice, but Seicross regularly has frictionless slippery ground.
  • In the Splatpack expansion pack for the original Carmageddon, there is a frozen map where a few different races take place. One type of ice is functionally the same as your standard racing course. The other, should an unlucky car find the area, is effectively one massive patch of oil, dooming them until they recover or slowly drift away from the area.
  • Mega Man: Battle & Chase has a variation on this: racers can drive over icy terrain just fine, but attempting to turn sharply will cause the racer to spin out, not only killing their speed but also depleting their special meter. Iceman's tires let the user turn sharply without spinout, and Roll's tires disable sharp turning.

    Role Playing Game 
  • BoxxyQuest: The Gathering Storm, first on the Wayback Machine and then in the Sky Abyss. It makes you slide around incredibly fast, and sometimes not in the direction you wanted to go. The prequel, BoxxyQuest: The Shifted Spires, uses this type of puzzle liberally in its Form Spring dungeon.
  • This happens in Brain Lord, although you eventually get an item which stops your sliding.
  • CrossCode: The Bergen area is a snowy mountain that naturally has plenty of slippery patches of ice. They're especially common in the local dungeon, Temple Mine, which contains several frictionless Block Puzzles as well as slippery combat encounters.
  • Sweet Home (1989) has frictionless ice for some reason but also provides a Pick item that you can use to stabilize your party when they walk over it; otherwise, they'll break party rank and slide across the room helplessly until they reach a damage field depicted by corpses. The Pick, though, was originally used to solve a water puzzle that behaved exactly like the ice. You can also use the Pick to wade through lava safety, another situation just like the water and ice. Yeah.
  • Pokémon is a prime offender. Every version from Pokémon Gold and Silver through Pokémon Black and White seems to have some form of arctic area, and, with it, patches of inescapably slippery ice.
    • The Snowpoint City Gym in Pokémon Diamond and Pearl has fun with this by playing the "frictionless" part straight, but avoids outright defying the conservation of energy: the Gym has multiple levels separated by ramps, and you can only go up them if you went down a ramp of an equal or higher level first.
    • There's even an area in Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire where polished floors will send you sliding around in the same way. It's rather confusing and sometimes a tad frustrating, but it's thankfully optional.
    • ''HeartGold'' and ''SoulSilver'' avert this when a Kimono girl gets her sandals stuck on the ice, causing the player to have to push her off towards the exit.
    • The first generation didn't have any ice like this, but it did have directional blocks in the Rocket Headquarters which functioned similarly.
    • The puzzles return in Pokémon X and Y. Of course, the designers weren't exactly used to the player being allowed diagonal movement yet, so you can shorten a few of them dramatically by walking at an angle. Though there is one (optional) puzzle for a particular TM that requires diagonal movement.
  • Tales of Symphonia includes a lake of Frictionless Ice in one of its temples.
    • A later dungeon takes place in a really tall tower, and the parts that allegedly have no gravity work like this. Apparently the programmers can't tell the difference between gravity and friction, since gravity works just fine in the puzzle rooms but friction is missing.
    • Amusingly averted in the sequel, in which the party revisits the aforementioned temple and it seems as if the player will have to go through the whole annoying process of freezing the lake and sliding around on it again, until the party suddenly remembers that they just happen to be carrying an item that allows them to walk on water.
  • SoulBlazer has icy patches that prevent you from changing direction while slipping on them. You can cancel the effect by wearing the Mushroom Shoes given to you by a kid you've rescued.
  • Golden Sun's Tundaria Tower and Mars Lighthouse feature this heavily. And in Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, Harapa Ruins and Phantasmal Bog. Also, the green Zol Blocks have no friction when pushed.
  • In the Boktai series, not only does this apply to slippery ground, this applies to ice blocks as well, even in places where it would be very improbable for them to do so. Some puzzles require manipulation of ice blocks over the slippery ground, and sometimes require melting of the ice blocks to get anywhere.
  • Etrian Odyssey:
    • Etrian Odyssey II: Heroes of Lagaard has an entire stratum dedicated to this (Frozen Grounds), including the obligatory "bounce from obstacle to obstacle in a convoluted path to reach the other side" movement puzzles.
    • Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan: Once you cool down the largest heating scale in a floor in Golden Lair, the whole area will cool down as well, freezing the previously warm water. This frozen water is completely frictionless, both for you and the F.O.E. present. This also applies to the ground ice in Underground Lake and Hall of Darkness (minus the need of cooling a scale; in fact, at one point you have to do the opposite by using the Black Flame to warm the areas in order to melt the obstructing ice walls), as well as the Golden Lair once again in Etrian Odyssey Nexus.
  • Frictionless ice makes for the majority of the Waterworks network in Mega Man Battle Network. Also, in later games in the series, ice panels may appear in battle which cause the slippery-slide effect. This makes no sense in battle because MegaMan.EXE teleports to move anywhere.
  • In Ultima Underworld II, one of the alternate dimensions had large sections of ice that reduced all control and was a luck-based maneuvering game. You had virtually no control though you could jump in place to reset your momentum (only worked sometimes). If you crashed into the walls at too high a speed, you took damage. In fact, the hint booklet you could buy for the game literally referred to it as Frictionless Ice.
  • Shining Series
    • Shining the Holy Ark forced you to navigate one of these puzzles from a first-person viewpoint. It went as well as you might expect.
    • Shining Wisdom has the water shrine that oddly enough focuses more on ice than liquid water. After completing the shrine you gain the ability to transform some water into ice sheets allowing you to traverse to new areas but sliding across the now frozen lakes.
  • The ice palace in Faerie Lea in Dragon Quest V.
  • In Faria, several of the towers have rooms covered with icy floors. You can get Jump Shoes that allow you to get around these without slipping, and you'll need them for the final tower, which mixes icy floors up with pitfalls.
  • Epic Battle Fantasy 4 and 5 each have a decent number of slippery puzzles in both movement types and block types, sometimes even both, and the party frequently comment on how they utterly despise these types of puzzles, due to requiring heavy thinking and all of them being self-aware Idiot Heroes. Thankfully, a late-game item in both games is spiked boots that allow normal movement on ice, so backtracking for item-searching and battle re-fighting isn't so painful, and naturally the party complains after getting them how they would've been very useful earlier.
  • Undertale has a few puzzles using this. Unusually, they allow diagonal movement (though it is much easier to solve said puzzles by sticking to the orthogonal directions).
  • The Ice Peak of Noltia in Ys II: Ancient Ys Vanished – The Final Chapter has ice ramps where you must equip the Stone Shoes to walk up them.

  • Nintendo's Ice Hockey has a cheat code that makes the puck frictionless. It doesn't affect the players, though.
  • Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games: The DS version of Winter Olympics ( has a town mission in which you have to use Mario to get a mini mushroom to traverse a lake without the ice shattering, then build a bridge out of it by pushing blocks in the same style found in the Legend of Zelda games (only the blocks are frictionless when pushed: Mario himself merely has slightly more slippery controls).

    Turn Based Strategy 
  • In Fire Emblem Engage, icy terrain will increase the movement range of any ground unit standing on it at the beginning of their turn.
  • While not restricted to ice, low friction is one of the most irritating terrain effects in Phantom Brave. It makes positioning characters very difficult and can easily result in someone falling off the map. On the other hand, attacks that move the character into position for you ignore this entirely. It is also possible to abuse this by only moving your characters a little bit at a time, allowing you to reach the other end of the map in one turn.

  • A board-game puzzle by Binary Arts (now Think Fun) called Lunar Lockout utilizes a similar principle in the Block Puzzle format: You're allowed to move any piece (of six) on the game's 5x5 board, but only when there is another piece in that direction for the moving piece to bump into and stop against; otherwise it would logically continue moving off the edges of the board, failing the puzzle.
  • A board game called Ricochet Robot operates on similar rules: The robots (game pieces) are described as lacking brakes or steering, so they must rely on bumping into obstacles (or the other robots) to successfully navigate the board to reach an objective.
  • Brave Hero Yuusha: The ice patches in Canbrooke.

    Real Life 
  • Superfluids, and possibly supersolids, are entirely frictionless. Of course, if you're in an area cold enough for superfluids to even exist, the lack of friction is the least of your problems.
  • Frequently supposed in kinematics in schools and colleges, since friction would add an unnecessary level of difficulty to a simple physics problem. In the other branches of physics, as well as materials science, nonzero friction starts being considered.


Video Example(s):


Ice Vellumental Mountain

The ice here defies physics itself with its sliding.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / FrictionlessIce

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