Another Winter - Scott Pilgram vs. The World: The Game (XBLA/PSN)
This is probably the most unusual winter theme on the list. While most snow-based levels have more calm, slow paced music, Another Winter shows us that it's perfectly fine to rock out even if it's cold outside. And not just rock out, but rock out to chiptunes! Anamanaguchi, I salute you.
New Freezeland ~ Snowy Mammoth - Ape Escape (PS)
Considering that your overall objective in Ape Escape is to capture a bunch of wild monkeys, it's no surprise that the bulk of the music in this game is lively and energetic. New Freezeland ~ Snowy Mammoth, however, is the exact opposite of that. This tune makes you stop and take in the cold atmosphere, almost forgetting about the hectic adventure at hand. It's actually rather relaxing. I always picture icebergs when I hear this song.
Northern Hemisphere - Donkey Kong Country (SNES)
I know from my personal experience of going through numerous blizzards that winter can be a harsh and bitter mistress. The exact same can be said for Snow Barrel Blast the first snow themed level of Donkey Kong Country. If you thought DKC was going to be an easy game, here is your very rude wake up call. The audio track that plays, Northern Hemisphere, tells you that you are in for one nightmarish level. It starts out deceptively easy enough but about halfway through the level, it begins to snow. Said snow turns into a blizzard, hindering your visibility just as the level gets more intense. You'll have to bounce off flying enemies over very small platforms floating over a bottomless pit. Once you get past that, you'll come to a section of rotating barrels. Did I mention that said barrels move fast and that there are Zingers in your way during all of this? By now you're probably dripping sweat, what with the snow, the barrels, evil enemy placement and the music. The music, the music, the music! The track starts off slow, trying to lure you into a false sense of security. But like the level itself, as it goes on, it mutates to a beast. Wanna hear something funny? There's actually a hidden barrel that lets you bypass that whole hard barrel shooting section near the end of the stage! But most of us didn't find that barrel and were stuck going through this area the hard way. David Wise wrote most of the music for DKC, but Norther Hemisphere was composed by Eveline Novakovic. Needless to say, she had Snow Barrel Blast pegged.
Big Snowman - Snowboard Kids (N64)
I can't say I remember a great deal about Snowboard Kids. I rented it in the winter of 1998 and didn't care for it too much. This was before I really got into a lot more games outside of two or three genres. One thing I do remember is playing on Big Snowman, doing terribly, but loving the audio that played on this course. I never forgot that song. Years ago when I looked for music to Snowboard Kids, this was the song I looked for. Problem was, I couldn't remember the name of the course, so I didn't know what to look for. I just clicked on different videos on YouTube for Snowboard Kids music until I found it. When I did, I smiled like a kid all over again. Still do when I hear that song. It just puts me in a happy mood. Maybe I'll add Snowboard Kids to my collection if I ever seer it again.
Robotnik Winter - Sonic Triple Trouble (Game Gear)
I'll bet this wasn't the winter Sonic song you were expecting. A lot of the platforming Game Gear Sonic games had fantastic music and Sonic Triple Trouble was no exception. The level itself was pretty fun to blast through and remains one of my favorite winter themed levels in a game. While the snowboarding sections were brief, you had more control over where Sonic could go since you weren't snowboarding down a hill. It's funny that with a zone having "Robotnik" in the title, it's actually quite the peppy tune. Makes me think of the times I went sledding as a kid. Ah, the memories.
The Eight Strokes of the Bell - Secret of Mana (SNES)
Secret of Mana (known as Seiken Densetsu 2 in Japan) has some phenomenal music and out oft the game's two winter songs, The Eight Strokes of the Bell is my personal favorite. This theme is heard in the Ice Palace, an area that can be rather tricky if you aren't properly prepared. If memory serves, I believe you're out to rescue Santa, here. Yes, Santa, or a very similar character. The Eight Strokes of the Bell is another winter song with a underlying heavy feel to it. Secret of Man does much to remind the player that a heavy burden has been placed on the protagonists. In video games, we frequently save the world, but how often do we stop to think how it would feel to have the weight on the world on your shoulders? This track is an excellent reminder that, just because they are kids, life is not going to cut them a break and that the journey is going to be long and hard.
Scene 3: Let's Melt the Snow and Rebuild N.Y. City - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game (NES)
While lacking four player support of it's arcade brother, the NES port of the 1989 hit was still a solid two player beat 'em up. The NES version also had two exclusive levels. The first of the NES-only stages was a winter level that borrowed a story element from the 1987 cartoon series. Remember the episode where the Stone Warriors used a device to make it eternal winter in New York? That's what Scene 3 is about in this game. It's packed with robot's disguised as snowmen, killer snowplows, a cool-looking stage boss, (Tora is, to my knowledge a game exclusive foe) and one of the best tracks from the game and that's saying a lot when you consider that the NES version's music was pretty good.
Ice Cap Zone Act 1 - Sonic 3 & Knuckles (Genesis)
Here's that winter Sonic song I mentioned earlier, the one most people were probably expecting. One of my favorite Sonic songs from my favorite Sonic game. I just love the way you enter the Ice Cap Zone. Being shot out of a cannon from the end of Carnival Night Zone, you land on a snowboard and it's downhill for a very brief period of time. The mini snowboarding section is good but the rest of Ice Cap Zone Act 1 is a sight to behold with the ice crystal backgrounds and falling ice pillars that you have to use as platforms. This act has a good blend of speed and slowed down platforming, all while the dope head bobbing beat plays.
YOSHIMISTSU - Tekken Tag Tournament (PS2)
I've long been a fan of the Tekken series due to it's engaging 3D combat and spectacular soundtracks. Each character gets a different stage theme for each new release but Yoshimitsu is one of the few characters to change his appearance in each installment. I'm always itching to see what he'll look like in the next Tekken game. I still can't comprehend just what the heck the lyrics are saying in Yoshimitsu's BGM for Tekken Tag Tournament but since it sounds so awesome, I don't really care. This is some seriously good power walking music for the winter or any other season.
Freeze Man Stage - Mega Man 7 (SNES)