Ice Caverns of the Crystal Yeti

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Ice Caverns of the Crystal Yeti is an action-adventure game for the SNES, likely created in the latter half of 1993. The only known copies of the game are advance review copies; the game never reached market, as InTerraSoft, the company which developed the game, went out of business before it could be shipped, due to a deadly fire. It is often described as the sequel to Yeti Master, but InTerraSoft appears to have had no connection to the older game. Nevertheless, there are a number of similarities between the two games.


Gameplay

Ice Caverns of the Crystal Yeti is an action-platform game, very similar to the Metroid and Castlevania series, with a focus on open-world exploration and item collection. The player controls a man ostensibly named Watts as he escapes from an underground facility, explores the nearby mountains, and eventually returns to the facility to destroy it. Over the course of the game, the player collects many power-ups that enhance Watts' capabilities and grant special abilities. At present, 27 distinct power-ups have been recorded, with space on the inventory screen for at least 35.

At the start of the game, the protagonist is unarmed and stealth is necessary to avoid being killed; the player must sneak past adversaries, or strike from behind, to be effective. As time goes on and the player becomes more powerful, stealth is not as important, although still beneficial.

Plot

Ice Caverns of the Crystal Yeti immediately opens on a man in a grey jumpsuit in a small prison cell, without even a title screen. When the player presses the Start button, the cell door opens, and the player takes control of the man. Over the course of the game, the player explores the initial prison area and the surrounding underground facility, through medical testing areas, an engineering lab, weapons testing, and a power plant. While trekking through the facility, the player finds a number of items and power-ups, including the protagonist's trademark black suit (listed in the inventory as "My Suit"), a number of pistols and rifles, goggles, sunglasses ("My Sunglasses"), a staff (which can be used both to pole-vault and as a weapon), wall-climbing gloves, and more. As the player travels further through the facility, more strange and unexplained scenes are uncovered, such as a crashed UFO in a containment field, what appears to be the corpse of a flying crustacean, breeding or cloning tanks for various creatures, and descriptions a living alien language.

After the power plant, the player confronts a futuristic mechanized armor tank, which is also part ghost. Upon defeating the mech-ghost, the resulting explosion severely damages the protagonist, and most of the player's items are damaged or lost completely.

The protagonist emerges, heavily wounded, through a hole in the wall, to find that the facility is built into a snowy, windswept mountain range. After wandering for some time, he eventually finds what seems to be an ancient temple. Shortly after entering the ruined temple, the player starts finding the remains of an expedition. Much of this part of the game involves exploring into the temple, only to eventually reach a blocked-off area and some trace of the expedition; mountaineering items, such as a cloak (worn over "The Wreckage of My Suit"), a backpack (which increases inventory space), snowshoes, a grappling hook and rope, snow goggles, and more, are scavenged from the traces. The protagonist then uses these items to explore the ruins and the surrounding mountains, finding alternate routes by which to progress. Most of the danger in this portion of the game comes from environmental hazards, from avalanches and falling rocks to traps within the temple. However, there is also a pack of wolves which hunts the protagonist, resulting in some memorable chase scenes which usually end with large-scale environmental damage, closing old paths and opening new ones. It is implied that a significant portion of time passes in this part of the game; the player can only save in a few areas, and the "save" option is replaced with "make camp;" every time the game is saved, the protagonist has a larger beard. Additionally, it is only possible to save if an item of food is in the inventory (if the player attempts to save without food, the protagonist dies of starvation). Food is quite rare, and the player only has two ways of getting it: exploring remote areas far from the main paths, and by attempting to kill wolves. Because the player is unarmed for nearly this entire section of the game, fighting wolves is a risky proposition.

Eventually, the player finds a number of secret doors and passages, leading to a preserved structure, with advanced technology merged with the temple's stone walls. The player finds a mysterious pillar of light which grants a power-up written in an unintelligible script (the same script used for the Five Yeti's dialogue in Yeti Master); shortly thereafter, the lead wolf in the pack corners the protagonist, who is easily outmatched. When the player's health reaches 0, the screen flashes white and the wolf disintegrates; the indecipherable item is then listed as "Kriyak Mak-Tua Architecture" and the wall behind the player is revealed to be a door.

All of the player's mountaineering gear is apparently destroyed in the explosion (along with the protagonist's beard), so once again the player sets out unarmed to explore a new area. This portion of the game is spent exploring the various areas of the preserved temple, activating various esoterically-named processes, finding new power-ups, and using them to backtrack to previously unexplored areas, in classic Metroidvania style. Most of the new power-ups are a mixture of sci-fi technology and magic: Third Eye Implant, Pranic Flash Suppressor (prevents ethereal leeches from detecting the player when powers are used), Hermetic Friction Dampener (allows super-speed after a short run), Baraka Actuators (grants psychokinesis), and more. Further, there are a number of hidden "Injection Rooms" that can be activated through a series of puzzles; upon activation, new Kriyak Mak-Tua abilities are gained, granting superhuman psychic and martial arts abilities: striking at a distance (Kel-Iya), energy blasts (Mak-Su Teng), wall running (Heng Suk), and strikes that destroy vulnerable walls (Kri Yel-Gha) and others.

At the lowest level of the temple, the player finds a large room containing a single terminal; when activated, holograms of the Yeti Master glyphs spin around the protagonist's head at increasing speeds, until all the letters fly into the protagonist and the screen flashes white. The player then steps into a teleporter, which deposits the player in front of a massive blast door set into the mountain, leading into the original underground facility. The player uses the Kri Yel-Gha power to tear the entire door out in one piece, and then sets to explore and destroy previously un-visited areas of the base using the new abilities.

After much travel and destruction, the player comes to the final area, a desert landscape complete with a giant pyramid, inexplicably reached from the lowest area of the facility. Inside, the player confronts the final boss, a supercomputer robot built with components from the crashed UFO and the living language. The boss turns off all of the player's power-ups, after which they must be manually turned on; victory is only possible if the power-ups are re-activated in the correct order, each used to combat specific phases of the boss's attacks. A climactic final battle ensues, and the player destroys the boss and must escape from the facility before it collapses. As the player leaps through the final door, the explosion consumes the base. The screen fades back in on the image of the protagonist, in the heart of a mysterious machine in the center the preserved temple, as devices move into place around him. The screen flashes one final time as the machine activates, and the protagonist is encased in a green transparent crystal. The credits roll over this image, and after they finish, there is a pause, after which the protagonist's eyes open, glowing, and the words "WATTS WILL RETURN" appear underneath (this is why the protagonist is often referred to as Watts, although he is not explicitly called this at any time).