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Level: BtB2009 - Just a Bowl of Cherries back home search
Author(s): Neso
total rating:7.11 Gameplay &
Puzzles
Enemies,
Objects &
Secrets
Atmosphere,
Sound &
Cameras
Lighting &
Textures
Bene 9 8 8 8
Blue43 6 7 7 8
Czar 7 7 7 6
DJ Full 7 7 8 8
dmdibl 7 8 8 8
EssGee 8 8 8 7
eTux 6 7 8 7
Eva 8 7 7 6
Gerty 7 7 8 8
jawi 8 7 8 8
Jay 7 8 7 7
JesseG 6 8 7 8
Jose 6 7 7 8
manarch2 3 5 5 6
MichaelP 7 7 7 7
Mman 5 7 6 7
Moonpooka 7 8 8 8
Orbit Dream 7 7 8 8
Phil 8 8 8 8
Relic Hunter 6 8 8 8
rjb 8 9 9 7
Ryan 6 7 7 7
Samu 5 6 6 7
Shady Croft 6 8 8 8
Spike 4 7 7 6
Sutekh 3 7 6 7
Treeble 7 7 8 7
category averages
(27 reviews)
6.44 7.30 7.37 7.33

Reviewer's comments

"In hindsight it was no good choice to play this straight after another not so great level, because it's even less inspired than that and actually I was more than glad that this only lasted 15 minutes. I guess the builder was in a hurry releasing this one in time, because I think he did much better with the 2008 BtB level, especially in terms of gameplay (although there were some problems as well). Actually, there is no single interesting task in the whole level, just run here and there, collect items, use them and so on. Nothing else. Many pointless corridors that lead to the room you've just exited, no puzzles, nothing remotely fun in here, just basic movements and actions (perhaps this level might be useful for the very beginners) as if this was the only thing to enjoy about Tomb Raider levels. Actually I really hope it was lack of time that makes this level so pointless, because otherwise ... anyway. The looks are rather decent, with some better usage of lighting here and there and clean texturing most of the time, but they don't really feel highly inspired either with mainly quite cramped areas. Some camera usages are nice and the two secrets are actually rather well hidden; on the other hand there are missing sounds for doors and another incorrect water portal, and the finale was more than disappointing as well. On to the next level which is more promising..." - manarch2 (22-Jul-2016)

"Again a level I replayed and I still enjoyed it. I got lost a couple of times but never at the point that I found it frustrated. Stumbled on the secrets that way and that is fine by me. On my screen it was a bit on the dark side but there are enough pick-ups and among them enough flares to help me out." - Gerty (25-Apr-2016)

"Not bad at all, just slightly short and underwhelming. There weren't any complicated puzzles or anything that will tax your brain. Gameplay mainly consists of finding needed items. Everything else was fine but not spectacular. It is probably good for beginners." - Ryan (12-Apr-2016)

"With a very little effort, this achieves very much on a very little space. No epic sights or revolutionary puzzles but still a quick variety of never boring tasks which keeps busy for half an hour. I would like a beam of light from time to time, because the whole thing takes place in the dark." - DJ Full (19-Jan-2016)

"There's a Cleopatra's palace theme here and it's done well enough, there are too many cramped corridors with little detail but it looks pretty good at times (especially when you first enter the main hub area). Gameplay is pretty much just exploring to find items with little to spice it up beyond the occasional trap or enemy, and there's quite a bit of backtracking if you've missed something (luckily I didn't); it's pretty much the definition of average. Seeing that this is by the author of Incatacombs is odd as that was full of grand areas and clever gameplay, so I can only assume this was a little phoned-in." - Mman (12-Nov-2012)

"If all you're looking for is a classic raid in a Cleopal environment,then this is an excellent choice.Texturing is quite accomplished,although lighting is perhaps a little on the dark side;while camera's are used just where they should be to aid the players progress without necessarily handing things to them on a plate.It's the design of the map that I enjoyed the most: all of the various areas (numerous though they are)have been cleverly connected,leading to several choice "so this where I've ended up!" moments;while the secrets (should you attempt to go for them)have been deviously concealed. Although gameplay is devoid of any thinking puzzles,the non-linearity and profusion of areas to explore more than make up;and the 40 minutes I spent here were highly enjoyable and absorbing." - Orbit Dream (01-Jan-2011)

"This rather short BTB2009 game is build to look similar to Cleopatra's palace from TR4 and they way the game play goes it could even be part of the original game. Game play is not overly exiting and exploratory based and it contains the usual hunt for the four black beetles and shortly after they are placed, a door opens where the level ends, which felt quite sudden. It was uncomplicated to play but there was quite a bit of back and forward running. Enemies are skeletons and harpies. The atmosphere was close to the original and pleasant. The texturing was nicely done and looked solid with a little bit of a darker look than the TR4 counterpart. Fun and easy to play and it lasted about 30 minutes." - Blue43 (30-Dec-2010)

"The author is obviously skillful as there's very little to nag about in this 30 minute Cleopatra's Palaces inspired level from a technical point of view. It was a bit on the dark side, but still textured and illuminated quite well, and while it sported the Cleopal trademark mazelike setup, the gameplay was quite fluent and never too difficult. But to some extent that's also where the problems here are - as solidly done as the level is - it feels more like an extension of the original level, re-using some of the same puzzles, not presenting much innovation beyond the traditional setting, as a result, the most original thing about the level is probably its title, though I could not see any relevance to the things I encountered in the level. It also doesn't help that it takes barely 30 minutes to get to the end of the level and while there are some nifty technical setups like the death of the Demigod raising and lowering blocks, overall it doesn't feel that inspired, and while it's not a bad cleopal level as such, it will not offer much excitement or novelty. If you can live with that, you should give it a go. Found 1 secret." - eTux (16-Aug-2009)

"Not bad this cleopal level but with few interesting features. Small rooms and too much darkness for my taste, although there are enough flares. Enemies are only skeletons and harpies (only a demigod as the hardest near the beginning), and you'll have enough ammo to deal with them. Well ornated and textured rooms, correct cameras and all typical elements from the wad: black beetles, pyramid, hathor effigy, ornate handle, mechanical scarab... Have a ride through the palace without outside areas, shoot some enemies, find the items and place them." - Jose (26-Feb-2009)

"My first BtB09 game. Should I review this, as I won't finish them all before 1st March? Oh, go on, then. I found that this game 'grew' on me enormously. Having come across a disappointingly large number of BtB games from various years that have been (IMHO) far too dark, this one also started off, not too dark exactly, but rather 'dull', I'm afraid, in its lighting. I'm just a player-only, so my assessment of lighting quality may not be entirely accurate. I can but say that to me the 'ambience' of this dull lighting, despite having plenty of flares for the darkest sections, almost put me off continuing. I'm afraid the lighting level made it 'seem' uninteresting. This, however, was almost my only area of disappointment. Once I had progressed a little in the game, I found I really liked how the different areas were interconnected and how there was often more than one way to reach certain places. I especially liked the use of enemies (so the reason for my highest score). I'm not too bothered about them, generally, so the few in number was neither here nor there. What I did like was how every single one seemed to be placed strategically and 'reasonably' (logically, even), to create a bit of tension/nuisance just when you didn't 'want' it. I like to try and go through a game (after having explored thoroughly) as 'economically' as I can, so if I can miss enemies, not shoot them, I will. But the 2 golden, flying thingamajigs could not be avoided. (I managed to evade most of the skeletors by moving quickly, which added considerably to the challenge.) The only other aspect I wasn't keen on were the several places that could be investigated, only to prove empty of any incentive to have been explored - several passages, underwater tunnels, boxes that were empty, and certain rooms that, once seen, could therefore be missed out entirely. I am guessing that the 'cherries' of the title were the beetles we had to find and I confess to needing the walkthrough to find one of the 2 secrets - partly because I lost a little patience with the 'dull decor', I'm afraid, not wanting to look round every wall and pillar in the low lighting. I liked the way the game became more challenging as it progressed. Just to test what would happen, I triggered the 3 skeletors on the top floor just past that wonderful 'floating camera' that followed Lara along the upper beam, while still at that stage having the 2 golden birdamaflips trying to attack. 5 enemies at once (deliberately not shooting them with the helpfully provided explosive crossbow bolts) - and trying not to be pushed off that beam! - certainly had the pulse racing! I thought this game was very solidly made - I found no 'flaws' of gameplay or texture at all that I can remember - and wonder if (having sneaked a look around both corners at the end) the game was intended to be longer, as there seemed to be further passages to explore. I thought every piece of music complemented the 'wonder' and/or the 'tension' moments perfectly, the atmosphere was in perfect keeping with the 'tomb' setting (so I recognise the 'logic' of dusty, 'dull' lighting; I just would have enjoyed the setting so much more had there been more 'spark' to the lighting) and we had some good camera clues (though I like plenty of those, so more would have been even better). Good fun." - rjb (16-Feb-2009)

"This entry ended abruptly to me. It started easily but picked up a little in its gameplay later on. Still, a lot could have been done in the gameplay department. Texturing and lighting are both very good, and this provides a nice 30 minutes gameplay with quite a good part later on revolving around going in different directions to obtain the necessary items to progress." - Shady Croft (01-Feb-2009)

"Often there are shorter entries to the Back to Basics contests, and this would be one of them. An adventure crafted in the Cleopal style focused almost solely on exploration awaits, which unfortunately becomes this short level's major downfall. The major task at hand here is about discovering four black beetles and a mechanical scarab with key along the way to find two pieces of the hathor effigy. While it is simple and relaxing, and has some well built and textured rooms, many of them are very square and claustrophobic corridors, sometimes with dead ends. The lighting at some points seemed a bit dull as well. This does have its moments though, like the demigod at the beginning (easy but the atmosphere was nicely set), and there are two rather well-hidden secrets to find. While more experienced players may find themselves a bit bored with this, it's not a bad half-an-hour traipse down Egyptian memory lane." - Relic Hunter (31-Jan-2009)

"The shortest of the BtB'09 levels I've played so far. Set in a cleopal-wad environment, this level sets you after the black beetles that will reward you with the effigy head (but don't be fooled, you'll still get the mechanical scarab here). Everything is pretty standard and will live up to your expectations of a cleopal level; but it's still solid enough to keep you entertained while it lasts. 25 minutes, 1 secret. 01/09" - Treeble (30-Jan-2009)

"This is a delightful little (35 minutes) level that likely suffers in the ratings because of its brevity. It's raiding in the classic Egyptian style, and I found it to be a nice stroll down memory lane. Nothing new here, but it's a solid offering that's fun to play. And that's the main reason we're here, isn't it? Anyway, your quest is to find four beetles (not sure what the title of the level is all about) and to manage the usual threats along the way: a couple of harpies, a demigod, a small number of skeletons, spikes, blade traps, and so forth. Another easy raid that beginners will probably enjoy most, but one that also made this old timer smile." - Phil (27-Jan-2009)

"I found this level to be very nice but it also lacks many things especially when it comes to the gameplay which isn't particularly creative in my opinion. For the most part you have to wander around the level and find items you can pick up and use elsewhere but much thinking and agility skills aren't needed for finishing the level. I think that if at least few proper puzzles or challenging jumping tasks had been included, the gameplay would be much more satisfying and varied. In contrast to gameplay I really liked texturing and lighting in this level and texturing especially gives a very nice look to the areas. Generally this level looks pretty good but in my opinion it could have looked also more unique because it's a very typical looking egyptian level which doesn't stand out visually from other egyptian levels built with tut1 and cleopal wads. Despite all my complaints I also liked this level and it's definitely worth trying out." - Samu (21-Jan-2009)

"Good Egyptian level with nice atmosphere but I think that it’s too short. Gameplay is enjoyable and whole game is easy. Some skellies and two harpies to shoot are nothing difficult. I had more problems with the tomb guard - it took me about five minutes to take him down. Congratulations to the author for this level." - jawi (15-Jan-2009)

"I'm always made nervous by a level that begins with Lara under water, so the start here wasn't happy for me. I was glad to find, however, that after swimming down a short passage we exit this water pretty quickly. Despite this, ease is not our friend in this level, for it quickly becomes obvious that though there is generally great lighting here as a concept (in the form of various coloured bulbs used), there is also a great deal of darkness, and this frankly overshadows the effort gone to with the lighting. So, we have a tight complex of rooms to investigate then, each connected by dimly lit passages in our effort to find four beetle artefacts. Happily I chanced upon the crowbar straight away, so that of course will make the retrieval of the beetles so much easier. Every thirty seconds or so I am lighting another flare so that I may better see what I'm doing and squinting my eyes in case I miss some important switch or pickup. Progression is a bit slow then. Amidst this first section of rooms we find a sneakily hidden secret which requires a sly little curve jump and I am a bit more hopeful for what this level may contain. Moving on through the first set of large double doors, my hope is short lived for the great increase in the level of darkness that exists here. I find a set of binoculars, which are rather a pointless pickup considering that Lara already has them. So it's no reward for this miserable looking section of the game. I plod on, however, continuing to light flares and squinting my eyes even more. This is a richly decorated area which seems like a waste of time because nothing is shown in its glory. There are several boxes to shoot with occasional pickups here and there. Flares mostly. What a surprise. I suppose I should be thankful that the builder included enough, but I'm not, really. Excessive flares really are a poor consolation for excessively dark levels. It is such a great pity. I can of course see that the builder has tried to create atmosphere, and in some sense that is achieved. But at what great expense. Some of the architecture here is interesting, some not in the least. Aside from the reasonably large sized room, we have another complex of small, intricately connected rooms which offer little more than those preceding them and with similar levels of illumination. The enemies in this part of the game consist of skeletons and I am at the least very glad that there is a crossbow with explosive ammo to get these irksome pains immediately out of the way. Lara will do some swimming here, but only to retrieve one artefact, another secret and some pickups in pretty straight forward and largely dead end passages. Again I find a crowbar and wonder why there are two in such a short level. The mechanical scarab makes an appearance here, which is always fun to use. I am perplexed however that come the end of the level I found no place to make use of either the 'Hathor sistrum' or the 2x 'gift for Hathor' which formed the two secrets I found in this level. Either I have missed a great deal, or these items serve no actual purpose other than to 'flesh out' things to be found. Overall then, a reasonably enough set out collection of rooms with pretty much little real challenge and generally spoilt by poor lighting." - Czar (14-Jan-2009)

"This one is heavily based on exploration and, unfortunately, exploration only. There is no challenge here, no challenge at all, unless you consider wandering from room to room (and sometimes lose your way) a challenge. To add insult to injury, said exploration can become quite confusing because some rooms are open too soon (i.e. before you can do anything there), some results of your actions happen strangely (the beetle pyramid), and the camera shots are generally too short. Enemies are easily beaten, since your are given very powerful weaponry, so no fun there either. Some key items (namely the crowbar and the crossbow) are given twice, as though the builder wanted to make sure we poor players would find them easily and as soon as possible. There is a fine line between easiness and boredom, and I'm afraid this one has crossed it the wrong way. Visually, the level is nicely textured and could have been stunning if it weren't for the dull and flat lighting. Surprisingly, the secrets are cleverly designed, well hidden, and, for one, hard to reach. If only the main part of the level had been in the same vein, I'd have been a happy raider." - Sutekh (11-Jan-2009)

"This is actually a rather well constructed classically Egyptian level. There are many interconnecting areas via window views, balconies, overhead shimmies etc, which give you a nice feel of "oh that's where that place was", when you first saw it through an ambient view. Despite the more than adequate supply of flares, the lighting in this level is just too low for my liking, and I really had to crank up my monitor to play with a degree of comfort. The level would have been most enjoyable with substantially more lighting, as it is really well textured, and had no need to hide in the shadows of gloominess. Eye strain was kicking in by the time I hit the end trigger. Difficulty - not too hard." - EssGee (11-Jan-2009)

"Here's a good one for you labyrinth enthusiasts, as we have an indoor temple that's practically a giant maze. Bad news first, the gameplay could have used some rounding out. Besides the short length, gameplay is not much more than wandering around all the halls in search of 4 beetles and a few other pickups. Giving the player more things to do would have helped this level. Another area that needs work is creating meaningful structure. Many paths turn out to be dead-ends, which started to frustrate me a little, especially underwater tunnels and the one room where you are ganged up by a bunch of skeletons and seem to get nothing for your work. That's not to say every corner must be important, but if there's no great meaning to a room or area it is better not to have it at all. This also applies to the useless alternate paths. Good news is that I enjoyed blowing up said skeletons with the crossbow, though that makes the one or two harpies a bit too easy to deal with. I also appreciated the secrets, or at least those that I found. One in particular was a bit tricky to reach. The lighting and textures are good too, except there are climbable textures that you can't climb. It's a decent level to get yourself lost in, just for a little while." - SSJ6Wolf (11-Jan-2009)

"Lara roams and old tomb area in search of the Hathor Sistrum. As is to be expected inside a tomb, everything is set in a fairly dark environment, only the shimmering water fountains provide a bit of light in the dark hallways and rooms. The initially confusing paths and rooms that Lara opens up and explores one after another, hide a multitude of artifacts and goodies. Obviously there are enemies as well but they are easily dealt with. I did especially like to see the good old beetle pyramid once again. The four necessary beetles are well hidden and at the end Lara can leave the tomb with the desired artifact in hand. Overall rather dark, the level was a bit tedious to play, but it is a nice and somewhat shorter level." - Eva (11-Jan-2009)

"What a delight this entry was. It is, first of all, one that actually did take only an hour to complete as per contest rules. I had to re-do this as I had a bug trying to get back into the first part - two blocks had come down and there was no way to get what should have been the first beetle. And to be fair, I'm sure many of the levels would be only an hour or so upon re-play. There are a lot of skellies but the author provides two crossbows and enough explosive ammo that they are not a problem for long. Also found two crowbars....nice...as I am one who can sometimes miss the most obvious of pick-ups. I was surprised to read that some had a problem with areas being too dark. Not so in my case as lighting was near perfect. Dark in some areas, of course, but never where it interfered with gameplay. One of my favorites of this year's entries as I was in the mood for an hour spent exploring without any too-tight runs and/or quirky jumps. Recommended for all." - Bene (08-Jan-2009)

"A Cleopal inspired adventure and the shortest one for me in this competition at under 30 minutes. It starts out with a little overture and then branches out into rather non-linear gameplay with a few paths to follow to eventually get your hands on the four beetles for the pyramid to claim your desired prize and also the mechanical beetle to open the exit doors. The two gem secrets are well done and while it is a bit on the dark side, it's not too bad and flares are provided. Enemies are mainly skeletons and a nicely introduced demigod at the start. The two harpies got stuck in walls in my game and anyway all is easily dealt with using one of the two crossbows and explosive ammo. Solid but not spectacular and it felt a bit unfinished - as if time had run out to get ready for the competition..." - MichaelP (08-Jan-2009)

"Starts off well, the player gets the crowbar in a matter of seconds, and then can light a flare, and look around to find a nice secret. Good texturing, dark atmosphere, promising if we soon come out in a better lit courtyard (we never do). The problem starts when one begins to suspect this is an old tutorial wad, a first effort, that the author dusted off and entered in the contest. The same texturing and plants seem to repeat everywhere that Lara goes. And the dark atmosphere is unremitting, with not a single break. I kept telling myself that even if this is a tutorial wad, it is really well done, with solid design. The trouble is the longer I played the more depressed I got. Neither the collection of rooms nor the game play has much variety. It ends after only forty minutes of play. As I kept telling myself during play, really this isn't bad." - dmdibl (04-Jan-2009)

"Great title. Also - two crowbars, wow, can I keep one as a spare? Pleeeeeease. This is a fast paced little romp through a darkish short of a cleopal setting. It's quite straightforward with nothing at all difficult to achieve and may just enable you to get your breath back a bit after some of the slightly more taxing Back to Basics levels. It also seemed quite a bit shorter than the first three, but that's possibly because I didn't spend loads of time running around doing my usual headless chicken bit. Best bit? You get to play with the darling mechanical beetle. That's something else I'd really like to keep." - Jay (03-Jan-2009)

"The first rule of this level is to explore everything. All rooms will supply Lara with either, a much needed item, or a stash of goodies. When you enter this Cleopal type palace, you will immediately face several routes. That's no problem though as nothing is too taxing, and getting lost isn't that easy. You need to find the pillar item to proceed to the next area, and one of the four black beetles. After a short run in with a demigod, you will head into the second area. The searching continues and Lara will need to find the crossbow to fight off any roaming skellies. She will also need to fine the other three beetles. Also on the goodies list is a gem and the Hathor artefacts, but I found no place to use them, so maybe Lara takes them with her or one of the items is used to get a secret I was missing. Game play is quite basic as you are exploring for most of the time, but all those nooks and crannies leading to some sort of item was fun. The textures were nicely placed, and the rooms were well designed. Dark areas weren't an issue as plenty of flares were provided. There are no puzzles, and only two spike traps and one door blade throughout the level, so this is a nice little run around for the more relaxed player. A nice addition to the BTB 2009." - Moonpooka (02-Jan-2009)

"One of the shorter entries so far to this year's BtB, and sadly not one of my favourites either. Gameplay throughout mainly involves traipsing (and once or twice, swimming) through dark corridors, prising beetles off the wall with your crowbar (which the author provided two of for some reason) and occasionally stopping to deal with an enemy or pick up an item. However, this is almost all it offers in its short lifespan, and by the end of it all I felt somewhat underwhelmed as the exciting moment I was hoping for never quite came. In terms of visuals, the texturing mostly holds up well (bar a few niggles here and there) but the lighting was for the most part quite dull, bar the occasional random burst of colour here and there. The objects used throughout often didn't match the lighting of the surrounding areas either, leading them to stick out somewhat. In all, this was by all means not a terrible level, but on the other hand, far from stellar either." - Spike (02-Jan-2009)
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