Amstrad Computer User

Beyond The Ice Palace

Published in Amstrad Computer User #45

Very little fuss has been made about Elite's wonderful new game. Simon Rockman goes Beyond the Ice Palace...

Beyond The Ice Palace

When Elite bought the rights to Thundercats they commissioned several different versions. One was the Gargoyle Games version which made the shelves and another was from Dave "Trantor" Perry. The Dave Perry version may not have won the Thundercats mantle, but it quickly shed the Lion-a and Monkeyman characters to become a non-licensed game.

Lovers of Elite's hit Ghosts And Goblins may remember that the last level was The Ice Palace. Anyone who suspects that Beyond The Ice Palace is an unofficial sequel is not far wrong, unless they are a lawyer for Capcom, the producers of Ghost And Goblins. In which case nothing could have been further from our minds, m'lud.

The game takes an age to load, and lacks a title screen. Much of the loading time seems to be devoted to a scrolling message about how the land has been taken over by the forces of evil. There is no point in reading it. The message is reproduced on the inlay card, you can read that while the game loads. Then you can read it again and again. It takes a long time to load.

Weapon For War

Beyond The Ice Palace

As with Ghosts And Goblins, the strategy lies in which weapon you pick. There are four in the game - a dagger, sword, ball with mace and a sword of death. These have varying strengths, one, two, three and four hit points respectively. So a baddie which has to be hit three times with the dagger needs to be hit once with the mace or sword of death.

It so follows that daggers should be avoided and swords of death seized. The weapons do not run out, but it is often useful to pick up the weaker weapons to avoid bumping into them at crucial points.

You are well advised to do this at the start. Run to the left and get the dagger, stop short of falling off the ledge. Go to the right and pick up the mace. Now you cannot trip over the dagger, so run left and leap off the ledge. The further you are to the left the less likely you are to fall on a killer bat.

Beyond The Ice Palace

In keeping with Newtonian physics you cannot move in mid-air, so when you have landed your back will be to the bats. Turn and fire. The sweeping arc produced by throwing the mace is useful against the swooping bats.

Advance slowly, making sure you've killed all the bats you can see before moving on. When you get to the first little wall clear the area of bats and move as far right as possible.

Blast the wall with as many rapid shots as possible. Keep firing when it is destroyed to take out the first troll. Walk on, firing as you go. When you get to the second wall prepare for trolls coming from both directions. The second troll to appear from the left needs to be seen to before he can lob an axe at you.

Beyond The Ice Palace

Keep going. When the blue ghost appears run from it. You'll get killed if you try to take it on. You are usually safe from the ghost when you get to the steps going down. Crouch to kill the bats which are below and to your right.

If you find yourself at the wall with marauding bats and the ghost hovering it might be worth summoning the protecting spirit. This hovers around you, weakening or killing evil beings. Demolish the wall and run to the ladders. Do not climb the first ladder. It's certain death, I usually climb the second ladder and take out the ghost at the top before running left to get the extra spirit and the ruby.

Dave Perry advises that you ignore the ladders and keep going right. Either way, avoid picking up the dagger at the point where the paths rejoin just jump over it. When you reach the next ruby an invincible wall magically builds itself behind you. This is not the result of picking up the jewel. A blue ghost then appears. Bust that ghost before proceeding, it will make life easier.

An Uplifting Experience

Beyond The Ice Palace

Walk right on to the ledge and the earth will start to move as the ledge turns into a lift. When the second lift goes past, dropping down, you should jump on to it. There is quite a bit of leeway in the timing because you can fall a long way without getting hurt.

If you fall off a lift you will drop into a bottomless pit and die, to be re-incarnated before the first ledge. If you don't get off the lift you will be attacked by bats and then crushed at the top. The second lift takes you up into the bats. These can appear on either side making it the least predictable part of the game. Crouch and shoot. I've managed to get this far without being killed, only to lose all my lives at this stage.

If you are lucky you will take out all three bats. Don't rush to get on to the third lift - it stays above you for a while - and a slip will send you plunging deathward.

Beyond The Ice Palace

Once on the third lift move all the way to the right. You cannot fall off and the jagged walls will not even scratch you.

At the top jump right. Take out the ghost as quickly as you can. Do not try to run away or you will make things worse when you meet the dragon. This is the most fearsome beast in the game, owing much to Space Harrier.

Trying to take on the dragon and ghost at the same time is too risky. The battle is easier if you jump over the sword. This is another place where summoning the spirit is not unwise. The dragon vanquished, a ladder drops down. Climb up for level two.

The screen fades between levels. This effect, like the monster's death explosions, is reminiscent of Trantor which DP wrote after Ice Palace.

Upward And Onward

At the beginning of the second level you are confronted with two ladders. The second one leads to a dead end. It isn't worth the risk of climbing it for the Spirit at the top.

Climb the first ladder. If you picked up the sword at the end of level one get the mace from here. Knock out the bears and climb the left hand ladder.

Keep on going up. At the top fire rapid shots at the Buddha-like monster. Duck down the ladder to avoid it. With the Buddha out of the way go down the ladder and get the dagger. Return to the ladder and climb up.

Hop on to the moving floor. Falling off is safe enough unless you land on a bear. You can walk off the moving floor at the other side. Here you will find a sword of death. Get it and jump on to the next moving floor. If you had not picked up the dagger earlier you could fall on to it and lose the sword of death.

When the moving floor gets to the other side notice that it does not touch the edge, meaning a big and tricky jump. Knock out all the foes as you keep climbing. The four hit point sword of death is powerful enough to allow you to kill the Buddha without ducking down ladders.

Always cross the big gap by a moving floor: the bit which looks just jumpable isn't. If you are lucky you will drop on to a moving floor. It has been a hard battle, but the worst is to come. A swarm of killer bees buzzes around the top. Knock out the queen bee and a ladder will appear - your route to level three.

The Final Encounter

Here the beasts get vicious. There is much axe throwing and losing of lives. If things have gone according to plan you should be wielding a sword of death. There is no point in picking up the second one at the start of level three. Leave it alone.

Carry on fighting your way to the top. Once again take things slowly - there is no time limit. Dave Perry has been fiendish, as you jump on to one ledge you are forced to pick up a feeble dagger. Dave claims that there is one pixel you can land on which is safe. I couldn't find it. Instead pick up both daggers, fall through the gap and run down the ladders to get the sword of death you left alone earlier.

Any extra foes you have to deal with are worth the risk for a sword which is four times as powerful.

The ultimate challenge is the witch at the end of the game. By now you should have honed your skills at ducking on ladders, You had better hope so. To miss the witches thunderbolts you need to be deft, but it is possible to defeat the evil and free the land.

Can you do it?

Simon Rockman