Beyond the Ice Palace logo


Gosh, Elite certainly are a bunch of busy little beavers. What with Buggy Boy and Ikari Warriors arriving almost on top of another, and Space Harrier and A Question Of Sport promised soon, you'd think that they wouldn't have the time for yet another release, but not. Beyond The Ice Palace has absolutely no coin-op or TV relatives at all, which at least gives an excuse for the presence of a feeble plot.

Once upon a time, an evil spirit burnt down the houses of all the woodcutters who lived in this big forest, and the only way to send this evil bloke back to where he came from would be to send a lone warrior into his lair to destroy him.

Corny as that may be, Elite have produced a rather good semi-revamp of their old 8-bit hit Ghosts 'n' Goblins. It's a sideways-on arcade adventure. The hero (the one with the blonde barnet) gallivants through Evil's lair bumping off the various nasties that attack him with a variety of weapons, including a feeble mace-like thing, daggers and swords.

Nasties normally attack in waves, but some (and generally the most deadly) come at you on their own, for example the shambling mutated henchmen who throw daggers at you, the wolfsmen (on later levels) and the most annoying of all, a vicious little demon that appears from nowhere and kills you without giving you much chance to escape.

To make your life easier, an original 'smart bomb' feature is provided: by pressing space (or whatever key you prefer to define it as) you can launch a large spectre with a smiling face that buzzes around destroying all the nasties on screen. A good idea in theory, but not so good in practice as you have to wait a couple of seconds for it to appear on screen, and by then you're normally dead anyway.

Toughness is a major problem with Ice Palace. Even though you get eight lives, the game is so tough to play they'll all be gone before you get very far. To make things worse, a lot of the game depends on luck rather than skill, and you'll often find yourself in situations where you can only hope to get out alive. This rather poor game design combines with the over-difficult gameplay to produce an overall effect that's less than pleasing.

That said, Elite have worked hard to produce graphics that are actually worthy of the Amiga and it shows. The main hero sprite has been superbly designed and animated, and as such runs very smoothly and realistically. The aliens are excellent, very reminiscent of the nasties from Psygnosis' Barbarian (but they are animated a a hell of a lot better) and explode very pleasingly in a shower of multi-coloured pixels.
Unfortunately, the sound doesn't live up to its potential and consists only of a weak soundtrack and shallow effects.

Overall, the excellent graphics just about make up for the mediocre gameplay, and the spirit's lair is sufficiently large to provide a challenge, both to hardened gamers and mappers, who should have a whale of a time trying to get all this down on paper. Not a bad game, but I get the feeling that an Amiga owner who splashes out 25 quid on this may feel just a teensy bit cheated.

Beyond the Ice Palace logo

Elite, £24.99 disk

Ever since you were a boy you've heard stories of the distressed land beyond the Ice Palace of the dark lord. You always regarded these tales as mere fantasy, but the simple truth of the matter is that the tales of the atrocities have merely been distorted from the truth over years of telling.

The thing is, the battle is still being fought...

One legend which has stayed the same for as long as you can remember is the tale of the blessed arrow. The forces of good were gradually being overwhelmed by the forces of evil so needed the help of the wood spirits. Since there was no way for a messenger to escape to summon help, they were relying on someone to find the arrow and bring the spirits to them.

Guess what? One day, whilst you were walking in the woods, you saw something shimmering in the undergrowth. It was an arrow.

Driven by the forces of the woods, you find yourself walking as if in a dream, towards the land beyond the Ice Palace. The world you eventually see is a desolate wasteland, the trees dead and decaying, the buildings shattered ruins. You don't really get time to take in the desolation of your surroundings, as a flight of demons swoop in towards you.

You hurl your weapon at them in a last-ditch attempt to save yourself, only to find that another weapon is in your hand as if by magic, ready to fight again. And so, with an endless supply of weapons and the help of the wood spirits when you are really in trouble, you wend your way further into adventure, along platforms and up precarious ladders, to do battle with the evil warriors and the dark lord at the heart of the land beyond the Ice Palace. OK, OK, we won't use that phrase again.

Kati Hamza I like a bit of a challenge, but Beyond the Ice Palace takes things a bit far! It looks and sounds very nice, but play is made discouragingly difficult by the !£&*ing monsters which lurk out of reach of your weapons (and sometimes out of sight) then pounce or fire at you when there's no room to take evasive action. There is some compulsion to get to the end of the first level, but the rest of the game just seems to be a maze of platforms and ladders - dullsville, dad! It's a pity Elite haven't used their resources on converting the original Ghost 'n' Goblins instead of producing what appears to be an imitation. I know that I'd be much more keen to spend £25 on that.
Maff Evans Beyond the Ice Palace is the latest in a line of Ghost 'n' Goblins variants and yet again the new game isn't as good as the original. The graphics are good at times, the diseased trees and main character animation are particularly impressive, but occasionally the effect is let down by poorer sections such as the bland and repetitive building graphics. The sound is none too astounding either, consisting of a drab soundtrack and average spot effects. As for playability - well, there isn't really a lot to it, and what's there is difficult. I suppose that's because there are only three levels, so they don't want you to finish too quickly, now do they? Well I was finished playing after a short while because I got a bit fed up of the same old thing all the time. Have a look if you're a fan of the genre, but I can't see a lot of others being that enthused.
Paul Glancey Grrr! Anybody wanna fight? I've just playing Beyond the Ice Palace and it's really put me in the mood for a good punch up! The maddening frustration induced by this game took its toll on the joystick I was using, which popped a few microswitches when I started mashing it into the desk! Sometimes it's just impossible to avoid the monsters or shoot them, so you end up dead through no fault of your own. Infuriating, huh? Well, as if that wasn't bad enough, the game casts some kind of spell of compulsion over you, so you have to keep going through this agony again and again. The graphics and sound are above average in quality but they could have been better, and once you're proficient at the game, I think you'd want more than three levels for your £25. And I'll kill anyone who says different!