Level: LB Advent Calendar 2003 - Santa Clause's Mansion back home search
Author(s): Cuahiano Small
total rating:7.18 Gameplay &
Objects &
Sound &
Lighting &
Aims 8 8 9 10
Akcy 8 8 7 7
Bene 8 8 9 8
CC 7 7 7 7
Duncan 8 7 8 7
eRIC 5 6 6 6
Gerty 7 7 7 7
Jay 7 8 8 7
Kristina 8 8 10 10
manarch2 5 6 6 6
MichaelP 7 7 6 6
misho98 7 7 6 6
Mrs rjb 7 8 7 8
Mulf 5 5 5 4
Obig 8 8 10 9
Orbit Dream 5 7 7 8
Phil 8 8 8 8
reborn1995 7 8 7 7
Ryan 6 7 7 7
Sash 5 7 7 8
Treeble 7 7 7 8
category averages
(21 reviews)
6.81 7.24 7.33 7.33

Reviewer's comments

"An enjoyable enough, though fairly simple Advent level where Lara's quest is to discover an artefact of some sort. She encounters somersaulting elves and a skeleton along the way (the latter of which can be easily avoided) and has to negotiate a simple timed run and use the torch to lower a giant wreath. Pleasant enough, though I've enjoyed my time better in newer Advent levels." - Ryan (20-Jun-2017)

"You might get the idea from the title that this is a seasonal house level, but it's not that at all. You get a variety of settings in this 30-minute delight, several of them outdoors, and there are enough surprises along the way to make this an enjoyable raid. Moonpooka has provided a compact walkthrough that documents everything. The only enemy I recall is a skeleton near the end, but it can be easily evaded without your having to kill or disable it. A nice, stress-free diversion." - Phil (13-Apr-2015)

"A game of which I disliked the first five or so minutes, but which turned out to get better and better along the way. It starts off fairly boring with some hardly noticable usable objects, an unmarked timed run and many missing sounds (even the background loop wasn't playing all the time), but when Lara enters the outside area the game starts to get more interesting with some puzzles, another timed run and platforming parts. It's still not the most involved game and still the visual design is not much more than average, but the end with Lara revealing the truth about Santa is quite hilarious, even if it is actually a secret. Short and sweet, with (again) some nice objects to admire and a few cool fixed cameras, but (also again) not really a fun level overall. Spent exactly 20 minutes in here." - manarch2 (14-Dec-2013)

"I remember starting this level years ago when I was little, but I left it because I couldn't proceed. Today I download it randomly not expecting it was the same level and when i saw the mansion and the elves that I remember I went very nostalgic. But that was all I remember so the other rooms were new to me. Gameplay was very simple and entertaining, the mansion was nicely build, lighting and textures were average." - misho98 (25-Dec-2011)

"As far as lighting and textures are concerned,this Christmas adventure does all that it promises.You get a snowy landscape,a Mansion (replete with elves and myriad gifts)and even a secret treasure.Objects are used well to create a sense of time and place,and the sounds (although of poor quality) help cheer things up.However,the gameplay fails to be coherant and doesn't flow particularly well;(baking a Gingerbread Man allows a cupboard door to open;lighting one candle lowers a large wreath,etc)while there appears to be little reason for Lara's quest (except to discover a secret treasure,which occurs sometime before the end).Nevertheless,the somersaulting elves and the variety of landscapes encountered upon the way almost compensate;and the level has a gentle feel throughout,so it should get you into the spirit of the season." - Orbit Dream (18-Dec-2009)

"Another of those levels where Lara roams through a snowy landscape in a skimpy red outfit in order to do…what, exactly? Visit Santa, as the title would seem to suggest? Well, yes—even though the original German title refers as much to the builder of the level (whose first name is Nikolaus; think ‘Temple of Horus’ by Horus) as to the setting, we do in fact get to roam about Santa Claus’s mansion, but only by accident, so to speak. Indeed it just seems to be in the way—at the beginning of the level, Lara runs head-on into a fence that blocks the path she’s apparently intending to take, and at the end she arrives on the other side of it and walks on without having performed any particular task other than the usual jumping, pushing, climbing, with two timed runs inbetween that were quite manageable. I should mention that you can acquire and light the torch early on, but as it turns out you’ll be needing it only near the very end of the level—which is, I think, a clear indication that the gameplay is lacking in structure. Indeed, all through the level you perform a good number of haphazard tasks one after the other without having much of an idea of what you’re doing, where you’re heading, and what’s it all about. So what’s the point? I mean, what’s the point? Taking level design into consideration doesn’t help: The map is rather large and complex, but the areas appear pieced together from at least three completely different projects and don’t form a coherent whole. Thus there is an inside area, which is itself a hybrid of the usual Lara Croft mansion (swimming pool) and a dwarf workshop; an outside area which looks like taken from another TR2 Tibet clone and where you’ll be spending most of the time, making you quite forget all about the christmas theme; and at the end you’re going underground, entering something like a dark fairy-tale world with a gigantic wreath suspended over a lava pit and a skeleton guarding Santa’s secret treasury. You hit upon this latter part quite without prior indication, and it’s over in a matter of minutes; so it fails to come across as the grand finale to the sequence of comparatively mundane tasks you’ve been spending most of your time on, instead it feels simply tacked-on. This giant wreath, incidentally, is lowered by means of a flipmap, which costs you about ¾ of your health and causes the camera to go haywire. There are numerous other more or less serious issues (illegal slopes and other opportunities for you to get stuck; missing, stretched, and misaligned textures; missing faces on objects; missing sounds; wrong collision; flat lighting), which, in addition to the incoherence in design and gameplay, suggest that this level was a rushed job. I have to add that the audio tracks converted from MIDI were…well, let’s say: quite unnecessary (but I liked the loungey swing track that plays on one occasion), and I think the outside of Santa’s mansion might have been better served with textures whose colour is less reminiscent of meat past its best-before date. That said, I like the idea that I assume to be the ulterior motive for making the level, namely the idea that Santa turns out to be a money-grubbing bastard (‘and no-one shall know’, that’s what the skeleton says by the way), but the level fails in leading up to this discovery and providing a proper context; thus, what should have been the pivotal point of the plot comes across as merely another haphazard episode which might just as well have been skipped altogether." - Mulf (17-Dec-2009)

"There is some good ideas in this level and the lighting is quite pleasant , it is also a pleasure to see again the icy Catacombs of Talion textures in the outside area (by the way I like that following camera when Lara jumps to reach the other side of the broken bridge). Now the level could have been better in the texturing department as many textures are disjointed , also some bugs could have been ironed out with thorough beta-testing , as I found a couple of places where Lara could not proceed without reloading a savegame. What is the use of placing a custom object just to open a door when you pick it up , if it is not just for show case ? Also if the atmosphere is good , there are several missing sounds. Recommanded though, nice level I enjoyed playing [ 30 minutes ]" - eRIC (14-Dec-2009)

"There were some really neat ideas in this level--the mask, the flipping elves, the workshop. All that was wonderful. But in a Christmas level set in Santa's mansion, do we really need several pits of death or a skeleton? The reason i really had to mark down the level in gameplay was because of bugs. But even the decor was hit and miss. Some areas looked crudely undetailed, and only a few areas had the warm touch of seasonal detail. Overall a decent but not-spectacular level." - reborn1995 (10-Mar-2008)

"Bigger than most of the Advent levels. Many textures from TR2. We can see Santa's mansion, and bouncy elfs. There are a few jumps and timed runs, demanding some skills, but it's still an easy level. Lara even gets hurt when she falls, after lighting up the candle on the big wreath. There is an angry skeleton there too, could he be Ruprecht? He says something, I couldn't understand, anyways a headshot sufficed. Lara looks more like a call girl, than an adventurer. Some doors and levers didn't have sound. As it's the first level from this author, it's very good." - Akcy (27-Dec-2006)

"While this level was aimed to bring a peaceful time, it was at least funny the fact you were picking up ammo right in the first room of the house (wonder why did the flipping elves didn't hide it?). In terms of peace this level steers a bit away from the Christmas spirit presented along with the other levels, you even have to shoot down a skeleton wearing a Santa hat near the end. I particularly enjoyed the quest for the dough (lol a temple to worship dough!) so you could cut it and bake a gingerman. Not piece of cake but certainly not difficult, this one should keep you interested in it, even though there are several missing sounds and it looks like there's no background sound either so it played a bit silent, yes. One of the secrets wasn't really original, swimming from the swimming pool to a little aquarium, now where did I see that before...? 30 minutes, 2 secrets. 03/05" - Treeble (13-Mar-2005)

“I found this an interesting and entertaining level for the first and last thirds but found it 'dragged' a little in the middle. To find very early on the cute jumping beans .. oops sorry .. jumping elves was really a totally amusing highlight. Looking and behaving like this they must be 'goodies' and so not for shooting! Other highlights were; being able to do the two timed runs (I am not known for my skill in this direction!) without too much of a problem baking a gingerbread man using some dough and a cutter and then managing to outwit the 'baddie' skeleton by climbing a pole to escape. The atmosphere both inside and outside the mansion are appropriate to a Christmas level and all in all help to make a game well worth trying ... even if you are a little late ... I was a mere 390 days late!” – Mrs rjb (06-Jan-2005)

“A nice little Xmas level based in and around Santa Clause's home. Lara visits Santa's home to steal Ruprecht's Rod (Ruprecht is Santa's servant who punishes naughty kiddies). So you make your way through his home and into the basement where Ruprecht and his rod are. There are some very nice and clever ideas in this level. First off when you enter there is a workshop with hammers and pieces of woods and there are Santa's helpers little elves flipping. They are harmless but I felt mean and decided to finish them off lol. You need a gingerbread man to open a door so you collect some dough and a biscuit cutter shaped like a man and cook it on the oven. Ruprecht isn't a very friendly man he is fact a skeleton with a Santa hat on and he will do anything to stop Lara including chopping her with his sword! Santa should fire this meanie! lol he also says something in German I wish I knew what bad language perhaps? That's why it's not in English lol. You go outside his house too to find some items it looks like TR2's Tibet. Lara is wearing a skimpy outfit maybe she thought Ruprecht would let her have his rod without a grudge if she wore it but I'm afraid not lol. There are little trees and presents about to brighten up the house too. I really like this level I am a fan of Xmas levels anyway. So definitely play it!” – Aims (04-Jun-2004)

“This is a very nice level. The story takes place in a house and on its surroundings. There are numerous gifts. There are no enemies except the ‘Nicolaus Skeleton’ in the end after having found the 3rd Secret. I may have missed something because I still have the Ruprecht’s Rute I don’t know where to use it. :) I found 3 Secrets but I didn’t find anything in the aquarium. There are no particularly difficult puzzles although there are a couple of timed run and tricky jumps. In the room with falling floor-tiles I was standing by the closed icy-wall for a while till I managed to find out that you must step only on the first patterned tile. Stepping on the others the way is closed in front of Lara. You can get the Revolver and the LaserSight but they won’t be needed. The last Secret is the smartest: you need the Torch for lighting one of the candles on the huge girdle. The added sounds are superb – I nearly felt like dance hearing one of them. The sound of the ill skeleton is also great although I didn’t understand what he says. :) The textures are also very good. This level is very funny and entertaining. You can find a Hungarian walkthrough (as we don't have English version) savegames and pictures here: ” – Obig (01-Mar-2004)

“The first of the Christmas levels that I played and I was just struck by how beautiful and xmasy it came across with Santa’s workshop filled with jumping somersaulting tiny elves and a wonderful snowy environment filled with tall fir trees. Half of this 35 minute level is spent in ice caves and the other spent inside the workshop and living quarters above mainly in the quest to collect things like dough cookie cutter gingerbread men a mask and eventually getting a torch to light a candle on the most enormous wreath ever made. There are three secrets one of these seemingly just a swim into a tiny aquarium and only one enemy a skeleton complete with Santa hat that doesn’t really threaten you too much you can though if you are sick of mind of which I was shoot the elves dead but it takes a while as they have built in pogo sticks in their shoes and Lara doesn’t target them properly but if you have kiddies watching then DON’T do this as this can only lead to tears tantrums and possibly serial killer tendencies in the not too distant future. For the elves alone this is worth playing but besides it is still a cute not very difficult level.” – Sash (24-Jan-2004)

“This was the hardest in my opinion of all the Xmas levels as I missed a sneaky hole to crawl through for quite a while as it blended very well in with the surroundings. Also I am a bit baffled as you can miss the skeleton part completely and I was just plain lucky dragging that torch with me as far as I could so I tried my luck by lighting a candle on that big wreath. Also had a problem climbing that second pole (by the skeleton and he isn't making it easier LOL). Found 3 secrets at least that is what my tally says and I know I missed the one involving that torch. The dwarfs are for sure funny to see and if you draw your guns Lara will aim at them. Haven't tried to shoot them though. 01-01-2004” – Gerty (14-Jan-2004)

“One of the Advent Calendar Christmas levels so nice and peaceful and great fun. Lara's outfit may be a bit flimsy for the snowy weather but it looks stunning. There are tumbling elves to greet you as you enter the mansion and more to be encountered throughout the level. It's quite easy to miss things so do look very carefully in every room. There are some nice original touches in this level; in particular I liked baking the gingerbread man.” – Jay (03-Jan-2004)

“Ahhh Lara in a red skimpy outfit with matching boots. Poor thing - must have been cold. As soon as you walk into the mansion you're greeted by somersaulting elves who are not to be shot. They're eye candy. Very funny! There's a movable block here that had me stuck and a timed run to the fireplace that's fairly easy. Also an oven to bake a cookie (I think it was) as I had a problem figuring out what to do with some items since they were listed with their German names. Wonderful ideas here. Hard to believe it's a first time builder. If Nicolas continues building levels I think he has all the capability needed to be one of the best. Looking forward hopefully to any future levels.” – Bene (03-Jan-2004)

“Old Santa has been livin' large in Arctic digs suitable for a rock star - complete with groupie elves that are always up for the occasion. Even Neptune and a very malignant skeleton are dressed for the season. Entertaining and clever bit of business this and I loved the giant wreath that was also an elevator. Some problems with audio and textures and all that but definitely worth the time.” – Duncan (03-Jan-2004)

“Lara stands in that great red Santa-girl outfit outside the mansion of St. Nicholas and the first thing I noticed were the forward flipping elfs (or Wichtel as CuahinoSmall calls them) in what looks like a gingerbread baking place - you see all the tables with boxes ready for packaging. Lara targets these and I shot them first time through but left them alone the next time shame on me shooting these harmless jolly individuals. Inside this compact and well constructed mansion Lara gets a gingerbread-man tin (don't know what that name is in the inventory) which is combined with dough to cook also a star a trident to place on a Santa statue a guardian key that looks like logs! and a door key to the exit. I liked the cameras in all areas. One part of the floor has a pole that I could grab and descend on but couldn't grab and climb up off but it's easy to jump up (even with the torch in hand) to the floor above. There is some good old fashioned gameplay here like the route to the lasersight in the caves a little timed run in the house a much better timed run in the caves and a combo jump to melt an ice wall. I was totally stuck until Kristina told me how to 'cook' the gingerbread. In the basement cave are gigantic Christmas wreaths with candles - and this is where the torch comes in handy. Oh and a cranky wheezing skeleton with a Santa hat on grumbling something about 'no man'. I have only a little German. A really nice looking level very suitable for children but with enough interest for adults also. Ignore the scores and just enjoy these delightful Christmas levels.” – CC (01-Jan-2004)

“The first thing I want to mention about this level is the dwarfs that are hilarious and back flipping all the time. There is a house to explore but outside areas as well. I liked the snow that was falling from the caves’ holes and room with big candles which lead you to the skeleton if you use the torch properly. There is a gem to find two small cookies that look like persons and one of them needs cooking. It was most enjoyable and well done although there seems to be a problem with some audio files. Don’t let that discourage you though the feeling is still there and I am sure you will have a pleasant time playing this. I found three secrets among them the one with the skeletons that has a cold lol. I couldn’t’ stop laughing when I saw that piece of bones with the red cap. Good work.” – Kristina (28-Dec-2003)

“The next 30 minutes in winterly environs and this level is even a bit sneaky in places as you explore inside and outside of Santa Clause's Mansion to find a whole variety of new pickups. The flipping dwarfs are absolutely hilarious. On the downside this level has a few beginners errors such as thin floors missing sound fx object collision mistakes but nothing too bad. Not sure I liked the midi music pieces much. The puzzle where you have to bake something was very nice and suitable for the occasion also the torch secret fit in well. Two fairly easy timed runs are thrown in for good measure as well and make this a very enjoyable little adventure.” – Michael (27-Dec-2003)
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