Why is it that girlie heroines have suddenly become popular? Could it be that the success of games like Barbarian, Vixen, Athena and Game Over has given everyone the idea that acres of female flesh on the artwork a helps a game to sell? Beats me. Still, Beyond the Ice Palace is good enough to succeed even if the hero was a fat, spotty male dwarf.
Far to the north, goes the blurb, lies a land of mystery and enchantment, a land of magic, of goblins and dragons, where the forces of of good and evil struggle endlessly for supremacy. They must mean Walsall, home of Elite, though I've never of it as a stronghold of magical adventure.
Due to some shift in the cosmic balance - mortgage rates going up, or something - the forces of evil have bonkers, burning the magic forests and forcing the peaceful woodcutters to flee. The spirits of the forest have put their heads together and come up with a magic arrow which has the ability to summon a guardian spirit. They shoot the arrow into the air, and guess who finds it - yes, muggins, it's you.
Set in the endless caverns of pixie evil, Beyond the Ice Palace revolves around the shapely heroine (as far as a 16x32 pixel sprite can be shapely) seeking out the globes of power which will overcome the forces of nastiness ... you get the idea. You can leap, duck, climb ladders, and fire three types of weapon. The knife has a long range, but isn't very powerful and only travels along the ground. The sword is similar but more powerful, while the mace whirls through the air (so it's better for knocking off airborne ghoulies). You can pick up your choice of weapon at the start before plunging into the caverns, and you'll find extra weapons along the way.
Although you start with nine lives, you'll soon lose a few as you're attacked by brain-eating bats, axe-throwing ratmen, vampire moths and scuttling trolls. If you get in a really sticky corner, you can call up your secret weapon, the guardian spirit. This dopey-looking moon-faced weeble shoots around the screen, wiping it clean of your enemies. You start off with two spirits, and can pick up extra ones along the way, in order to keep you spirits up (joke!!!).
The animation is pretty nice, although when some of the flying monsters move across the backgrounds there's a fair amount of colour clash (Ugh). Sound? It's OK. Gameplay? Fair enough. Lots of blasting through mounds of rubble, leaning across moving platforms, climbing ladders, and shooty shooty shooty at the nasties. Music? The usual impeccable David Whittaker performance. Not a classic in any sense, but certainly good enough to occupy you until the NBT (Next Big Thing) comes along.
Enjoyable though unoriginal arcade adventure romp.