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LB Advent Calendar 2004 - Ice Palace by Tifa Nazah

Akcy 6 8 7 6
alan 5 4 4 4
Anurag 8 9 8 8
CC 8 7 10 8
Danja 7 7 6 6
Gerty 7 8 8 7
Jay 8 7 10 9
Jose 8 7 6 5
Kristina 7 8 8 8
manarch2 4 7 3 3
MichaelP 7 8 9 7
Mulf 3 6 1 2
Obig 8 8 10 8
Orbit Dream 6 6 5 4
Phil 8 7 8 7
Rose Raider 7 4 6 8
Ryan 7 7 6 5
Sash 8 6 8 7
Treeble 7 8 9 8
Zhyttya 4 6 4 5
release date: 13-Dec-2004
# of downloads: 72

average rating: 6.65
review count: 20
review this level

file size: 16.50 MB
file type: TR4
class: Xmas

author profile(s):

Reviewer's comments
"This is one of those cases in which it is difficult to tell whether the preposterous scores are the result of the reviewers’ misplaced magnanimity or their madness, specifically the form of hysteria that tends to become virulent near the end of the year and is popularly referred to as ‘getting into the Christmas spirit’. Pulling a double shift in the 2004 edition of the ‘Advent Calendar’ didn’t do novice builder Tifa Nazah any better than it did Agnes. Her inclinations towards a particular brand of teenage fantasy were already evident in her earlier contribution (Xmas Race), where they took the form of extraneous design choices; but here they are given free rein, with the result that plot, gameplay and design are all shot through with it. About the plot all the player needs to know that there is a princess who was frozen in ice (which, not being a woolly mammoth, she survives); and because she’s a good one, she deserves to be defrosted. In-game this is conveyed, along with much irrelevant detail, by means of an awkward flyby that staggers back and forth over an unreadable wall of text. (There may be a voiceover as well, but I had to turn the audio off early on.)
The game doesn’t start off too bad once you get over the initial shock of the horrendous surroundings. Jump down a few tall pillars (incurring no health loss) into a ravine, enter a cave and find the crowbar (made to look like a sword called ‘Mournbringer’, Stormbringer’s little emo brother) next to an oddly immovable rollingball that just sits there, untriggered. Now for the bad stuff. The only way back up is a very long ladder. Lying around on the floor somewhere in this ravine there’s also an Important Pickup, which you will be missing shortly, so you’ll have to repeat the previous sequence. Then: the pushbutton orgy. Seriously. I mean, seriously. When it’s finished, it’s not finished but repeated. When that is finished, the last door won’t open, instead you need to backtrack, so as to be treated elsewhere to the awkward flyby mentioned above, whereupon you backtrack once more to the door that’s now open for some reason (none of this is hinted at of course).
Having made a brief novelty appearance in Miss Kroft’s Christmas in Venice of the previous ‘Advent Calendar’, the act of sliding on horizontal floor tiles here returns with a vengeance. Although regarded as the level’s highlight, the ‘sliding room’ is much more confusing and frustrating than fun, because there’s no way of telling the direction in which the next tile will send you, and any attempt to jump off at the right moment is a Hail Mary pass. An obscure puzzle involving a dozen levers is thankfully set up in such a way that the door will open if you simply use them all (the last one isn’t even required). A protracted pushable puzzle constitutes the grand finale.
Room design is an atrocity exhibition on a par with Kamifukuoka Lab or (closer to home) The Race in the Nevada Desert, and as such deserves no further comment since everybody knows the litany by rote, but I will point out that this level does the aforementioned specimens one or two better: in the outside area, entire walls go untextured; entire rooms are missing; rooms that do exist are shoved into one another, producing invisible blocks even when there’s not a door for miles. The subsequent interiors are all simplistic, boxy and wallpapered. How this level managed to score anywhere above 3 in Textures & Lighting in particular is a mystery (it looked as bad then as it does now). Even the excessive brightness is not so much the result of a conscious decision, but a technical consequence of using default ambience with white and translucent textures. (There are outgrowths on the large double doors which can be perceived only imperfectly; the statue of a prancing horse—actually a unicorn, of course—is trampling a dragon underfoot, which I didn’t realise until I viewed the object in an external programme; the archer statue may aim in four directions, but it has only one face, presumably to indicate how to place it, but there’s no way of telling in-game.) You have to hand it to the builder though: she came up with a way of texturing objects that requires the least amount of work while ensuring a maximum amount of fawning-over. Objects with merely a single texture—but translucent! Or at least blue. It’s not an entirely original idea though, since a similar effect was used by Core with the ‘invisible’ Indian warriors in TR2G.
There’s no need to dwell on the questionable audio choices, since even charitably inclined reviewers admit that these are harebrained (only to then go and award the level a 9 or a 10 for Sound regardless); but the politely uncommented-upon (until recently: alan) pornographic moanings that the builder’s Lara stand-in utters during periods of physical exertion (it is a teenage fantasy after all) deserve special mention. The circumstance that they only occur during the protracted pushable exercise at the very end of the game has all the trappings of the builder slyly smuggling contraband sleaze into her ostensibly ‘family-friendly’ venture; and infusing one of the inherently least exciting activities in TR with sexual frisson is certainly no mean feat." - Mulf (26-Feb-2021)
"Right, so, I don't think this is a good level. The story seems to have a good foundation, but it saddens me not to see it executed properly. The gameplay was really dull, the only thing that saved it for me was the sliding part and the levers puzzle. The rest it's pretty plaint simple and not exciting. The music was rather annoying, it would have been great to hear the tune once, and get a simple/cosy ambient sound throughout the level, it quickly turned too repetitive and actually made me lower the music to the minimum. The icy structures were a nice touch, hence the 6 on the enemies, objects & secrets. Overall, this leans towards the negative experience more than the positive, however it's a really fast one and I invite you to try it out, maybe you'll fond of it. Lara's outfit it's really nice though!" - Zhyttya (13-Jul-2020)
"Eh, it's okay. There wasn't anything too christmassy about this level. It rather felt like a normal snowy level. The environments look kinda bad, with their repetitive and stretched textures all over. Then this puzzle with opening all those doors became sooooo tedious and boring after completing one only to come face to face with another. And what's with Lara's squeaky voice? She sounds like a moaning girl from an anime. Anyway not really recommended unless you like complex puzzles and stuff." - alan (24-Dec-2019)
"This is very similar to this builder's "Icecave" in both good ways and bad ways. She has still managed to make this level retain some of its charm with the well- made custom objects, quirky sequences and voiceovers that help to carry the storyline along, as well as a nice ending sequence where the ice princess is released. But on the flip side, the environments are still quite crude, sloppy and repetitive throughout last, some sections are too tedious (the two button pushing exercises) and a couple of the flybys are quite hastily made. The dreamlike atmosphere sort of works, but it doesn't quite come together. You have to admire Tifa for trying though." - Ryan (01-Dec-2017)
"Oh Tifa what were you thinking with this one? The texturing in this level is, I'm sorry I don't find another word for it, horrible! Wallpapered and overstreched textures from start to finish, with no vague hint that the builder can actually do better (shown only in other efforts - it's even better in Xmas Race, released in the same month!). It's interesting that even in those clumsy textures there's a certain style that I liked in a way, and the lighting makes things at least a little better - even if it is very, very bland and technically little better than the texturing, the over-brightness is actually working okay here. But still, those issues tother with an archtitecture varying between utterly simplistic and totally random, the far view problem, cameras blatantly going through walls and one of the most painful background audios I've ever encountered (even if nice the first time around) created a really amateurish feeling to me that I never managed to leave behind. It all started funny with the snowboard, but once inside the palace any kind of fun is killed with that button "puzzle" (it's not a puzzle but more an orgy in backtracking). I don't know how Tifa came up with the idea that pushing buttons in about 20 more or less identically looking cells would be a fun tasks, well, it isn't, but after the irritating text flyby which follows it gets a little better. The slide room is rather fun to solve, as well as the lever puzzle thereon, and there's even a unique touch with the use of the arrow that concludes this level. In general the object design is the only really positive aspect of this level, there are some great ideas realised here even if nothing is quite perfect. The five secrets were a nice addition and at least one took some time to collect. Overall a half-annoying-half-mildly-entertaining level that lasted 25 minutes for me." - manarch2 (19-Dec-2014)
"This is a pleasant but rather short (half hour) Christmas level that's rated about where it should be. It starts off with a neat touch, using skis instead of a zip line to bring you down a slope and across a gap. I'm never one to complain about bright levels, but the unrelenting whiteness of the surroundings sometimes made it difficult to remain oriented as I made my way through. There was one artifact near the end that I would never have found without the walkthrough's help. I went to where I was told to be and groped around in the snow until finally I picked up the object in question without ever having seen it. Near the end there's a maddening room with moving sidewalks on top of snow ledges. The maps referred to in the walkthrough are no longer accessible, so I tried it for a while on my own. I was able to get the secret in this area with considerable difficulty, but when I attempted to continue I found myself going around in circles. You don't have to guess how I finally got across. Although the gameplay is inventive enough, I felt the textures were a bit crude compared with other top flight Advent levels. A nice seasonal diversion, however." - Phil (04-Mar-2014)
"Ten years ago this level would have seemed absolutely startling.Custom objects;a unique outfit;fairy-tale atmosphere;conveyor-belt sliding platforms.In the interim the level building world has advanced considerably,and this particular adventure has now had the novelty value removed.For a start,the snowy interiors are far too bright and many important objects are hard to discern as a consequence.Then there are the terribly stretched and wallpaper'd textures in the outside area.The poorly made flyby's.The utterly tedious button-pushing sequence. The terribly repetetive background music.It's a tribute to the charm of the builders ideas that much of the level still manages to entertain despite all of these problems.The slidey maze,although initially confusing,makes sense after a while;the stoyline progresses well,especially with the voice work;and the final moments are beautifully achieved. Not to everyone's taste,but interesting all the same." - Orbit Dream (07-Jan-2014)
"The game is really good and i like the winter atmosphere. BUT that song is very very very bad. miss tifa really should have left it out cause it took part nice experience away BUT all in all it is a good game. sooo she did a very good jod .ROSE RAIDER" - Rose Raider (05-Dec-2008)
"There were some very memorable moments, the snowboard, the slide room, interesting story, nice objects and Lara's outfit. But the palace is too white in some rooms, and there are untextured places. Some fly-by cameras gone through walls and too many buttons in the cells, pointlessly repetitive. But not a bad level after all." - Akcy (05-Jan-2007)
"Well, I've played this level. At the beginning after using a skateboard it seems very interesting to play. But not for a long time. The puzzles aren't real puzzles, especially the prisons. You don't have to solve it, just run a lot from one room to another and look which buttons you have to push. But never mind you don't go straight forward all the way. The best puzzle is those slopes. I still can't understand how that works. Really well done. If all the puzzles were that 'mystic' my score would be much higher. There were no enemies. I found it great, because such a level isn't good to place the enemies. Without enemies it's a very good level. The objects are all original, I've never seen something like that before. The flyby cameras were simple, some just went through the walls. The lightning is almost everywhere the same, but never mind. Textures could be done much better! Oh yeah, one last thing. That archer puzzle was incredible!" - Danja (29-Oct-2006)
"Another great level, you have to stop the fight between good and evil. It consists of some very good objects especially Lara's wardrobe. The secrets are hidden quite nicely. And you can't finish the last puzzle until you have enough brain or you have played Drakan. A great work by Tifa Nazah." - Anurag (24-Jul-2005)
"As opposite from Tifa's previous level, Xmas Race, this one shows what a creative mind can do and I really hope Tifa can pull out another level as good as this one in the future. Right at the beginning you ride a snowboard across the cliff to reach the palace and boy was it interesting. The level does make justice to its name. There was maybe too many buttons to push in the dungeons, but I guess that's ok. When you trigger open the ice doors a flame appears to "melt" them down, which I found to be a nice touch. Speaking of nice touches, LOVED the peculiar outfit, too bad it has to be rock hard, but it was really one damn fine piece of work. Your objective is to free Shiva, the queen of Ice, currently frozen in her own palace. Don't want to spoil things, but if you played Zelda Ocarina Of Time you'll have an idea on how to free her. The slide-through maze was great, too! Definitely a must play! I know March ain't Christmas time, but I really needed to play something and I decided to have a go at these levels, heard wonders of them and now I know why. 30 minutes, 4 secrets. 03/05" - Treeble (13-Mar-2005)
"Does the author know what is a background music? I think no. At the very beginning, near the skateboard, the solid floor is under the ground line and Lara's legs disappear under the snow. Was it a bug or the author made it so? The textures in the canyon (and most areas of the level) are very badly put. The author doesn't divide the wall panels and the textures are very elongated. This gives a bad look. Sometimes you can go to the end of an outside room and the wall is not textured, you only see the void. This also gives a bad look. Is not good that necessary items are lost somewhere so you can lose it easily (Arokh's soul crystal). Near the first secret, there is a wafer thin wall. The second secret is not hidden, you only have to pick it up. Enemies, guns and weapons simply don't exist. In the prison area, it's boring to have to push too much buttons to open too many doors. Could be a camera to show the second prison area opening so you won't lose much time looking for the next task. In the rooms with many switches, if you pull all switches the wall lowers too, you don't have to look for the textures. Rooms are too many squared, geometry is not good. At the end, once you have light the torch, you haven't any clue of where to put the archer statue. Only puzzles and new objects and animations are good things in this level too much unreal." - Jose (04-Feb-2005)
"Is this Tomb Raider or the X Games. Lara's first action in this frosty world of snowy cliffs ice laden bridges and intriguing looking chilly palace is to hop aboard a snowboard and jump a ravine though she just falls short of this task but luckily for a firmgrip she doesn't turn into mashed potato at the ravine's base. Once inside the palace a place where Mr. Freeze from the Batman movie would easily call home there are some great little puzzles to master the most fun being a large room with slippery walkways Lara must cross and the most unique puzzle being one that includes a movable four armed archer where you must tempt him into releasing the Goddess Shiva bedecked with long thick dreadlocks and what oddly looked like a goatee with one of his arrows. At only 40 minutes this was a fairly short level but I felt involved through the whole thing which is all you want in a level. There is an odd bug I found which neither hurts gameplay or hinders progression but was quite cool there are two blocks that you must lower with a lever puzzle but I could squeeze between both and make it to the other side and back again with them still raised you even get a funny shaking of the screen as Lara pushes through but as I said it doesn't interfere with the level in any way and for me actually added a nice little surprise for me. As a xmas level one with no allusion to this there are no enemies but like other xmas levels that don't have them they aren't missed I would have liked the 5 secrets to have been slightly harder to find however but the first at least had me searching for a bit. For me this was a very good level in pretty much all aspects and I was very glad I had the chance to play it." - Sash (26-Jan-2005)
"This is a very beautiful Christmas-present from the creator. Only the textures are too dazzlingly white a bit and on the icy snowy lands it is hard to find some Crystals needed for getting on. We have to collect Keys and Crystals in the meantime we have the opportunity to slither a little bit until we can finally smelter the statue. Long ago one of my favourites was Drakan and there was this challenge to smelter the ice this way. I found 5 secrets on the level. There are no enemies the only difficulty was in the slithery-room. Well I had to reload there many times until I could finally slide toward the right path and often I had to change the direction with jumps. The added sounds are (with one exception) speeches but that exception gives a really good festive feeling for the level. I can only advice it to everyone. :) You can find a Hungarian walkthrough (as we don't have English version) savegames and pictures here: " - Obig (18-Jan-2005)
"This is a charming story full of custom made objects. But what sticks to my mind after playing this game is the lever galore you have with those prison cells. And running around trying to figure out what to do next I found out that some of those cells can't be entered again after you went down the stairs. The statue at the end you had to move twice on the same tile threw me off big time. The slide one has to do is great never saw this sort of action in any level as of yet. The map provided in the Stuck Thread made it a bit easier at least you knew which way you had to jump. How Lara could jump in the dress she was wearing is beyond me but hey this is a cyber babe do not forget that. 14-12-2004" - Gerty (28-Dec-2004)
"The people over at LB have done a wonderful job for this year's Advent Calendar. The level you're about to play is unique as all of the Calendar's levels. There's an ice palace to explore but not before you use a snowboard which was brilliant. I have to admit the puzzles aren't very complicated or challenging but enjoyable nonetheless. The custom objects and nice music create a wonderful atmosphere with even Lara reading the story of the level within the level. She's wearing a white outfit that has a small problem but it's nothing to worry about. I wasn't able to open a gate which I believe holds the fourth rose so I only found three of them and four secrets totally. Don't miss any of the Christmas levels." - Kristina (22-Dec-2004)
"I am rather in two minds about this 35 minute long fantasy adventure. On the one hand it is positively charming and brilliant and has very memorable moments like the short snowboard ride at the very start (cool) the eclectic music (which I turned off later as it became a little too tiring to the ears) all the wonderful objects for example the unicorn and the archer figure and it has a truly fun room with the slides and jumps which was challenging and yet entertaining and five not too hard to find secrets. On the other hand though it has an unnecessarily tedious button push frenzy in the dungeon a few rather badly designed flybys through walls areas that are entirely untextured (outside left of the palace) and the disappearing horizon problem shows up pretty badly in the outside area which also has plenty of very stretched textures. Still the positive elements truly prevail and make this a fun seasonal offering that should not be missed." - Michael (18-Dec-2004)
"What a superb start there is to this level with Lara snowboarding across a ravine. She's also wearing a pretty spectacular albeit wildly impractical outfit all in white like a snow queen. The atmosphere and scenery are amazing and the gameplay quite intriguing. There is a simply wonderful series of ice slides and jumps in one room quite unlike anything I've seen before. I wouldn't call this a Christmas level exactly but there is certainly enough snow and ice to conjure up the right winter spirit and you really shouldn't miss it. It's beautiful." - Jay (18-Dec-2004)
"Right from the start this level stands out as different. What an imagination the author has. It's wintertime not necessarily Christmas even though there are snow covered trees and a magical atmosphere. The haunting music starts and continues right through the level and adds to the atmosphere. Lara looks like a snow princess herself all in white. Not sure about that long front part to her dress though the rest is very pretty. I like the animation at the start when she steps onto a skateboard to jump across a deep canyon. Then across an snow bridge to the ice palace. Here is where I was stuck for a while not knowing what to do. The solution is to get way down below and find a couple of essential items. The retextured objects are great like the sword (crowbar). This palace has a prison area where Lara has to open up each cell and this involves a lot of running back and forth but not tedious. The exciting part for me was the huge room where Lara has to skate/slide her way across icy columns to the other side the only control you have of these slippery surfaces is to jump and twist and grab so I'd recommend a lot of saving as you go. Eventually a new room is revealed with the princess frozen inside an ice block and a four armed archer statue. Great idea here of getting the statue to light a fire and shoot an arrow into the ice block to release the princess. I was sad in the end to leave this level. It's one that will stay in my memory. We can look forward to great things in the future if this is an introduction to the imagination and skill of this builder." - CC (17-Dec-2004)