Perusing Pixels is a photo diary of my expedition through the Tomb Raider series. Use the links to the right to find a particular game or level, or see below for the latest post.

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Tuesday, 14 July 2009

City of Vilcabamba

As a young girl playing Tomb Raider for the first time, it took me a while to summon up the courage to play this level. I had watched my cousin play it on his PS1, and it just looked a tad too frightening for me to try. I mean, there are two bears in this level.
This time around, I just about managed to steady my nerves to make my way through this small, plant-infested city.
(And I discovered on Wikipedia that Vilcabamba was a real Incan city, and the last to crumble to the invading Spaniards in 1572. Just in case you wanted to know.)

This is the start of the level. Nothing much to say about it, really, except that it’s apparently inherited the colour-scheme of the last level.



The whole four-dog-attack that occurs the minute you venture through the big stone doors is one of this things that put me off playing this level as a child. Four dogs…and no ability to flip over mid-jump! Even today, it was a nightmare. I actually had to use a health-pack. Yes. On the second level.

This is another scary moment (and occurs only seconds after the dog-attack). A bear! The most ferocious animal encountered so far, and this time he’s not stuck down a pit.

A secret in the level includes a small pool watched over by four stone snakes. I kept expecting them to turn into real snakes, but they seem content to sit there grinning.

Skulking around Vilcabamba, I stumbled across this rather foreboding corridor. Even in this playthrough, it took a while to summon up the courage to venture down it. I was right to worry, too; a angry wolf catapults itself at you the moment you reach the end.

Some random Incan artefacts scattered around Vilcabamba. I was relieved that the impaled animal skin did not become animate and start chasing me around on its makeshift stick-legs.

Is it any wonder it took me months to pluck up the courage to play this level? The ‘wall of skulls’ motif is quite common in the city and makes you wonder if the Incan’s method of construction wasn’t just a little too macabre.

Strangely enough, it was this moveable block that was my most vivid memory of watching my cousin play the game. I think it was the holes on it with what looked like dried blood underneath. I imagined some poor soul being chained to thing thing, having to push and pull it all day long, for no readily apparent reason.

The second ‘main’ area of Vilcabamba scares up some sorts of temple, with sombre-looking stone guards guarding the steps. As Tomb Raider buildings go, this one isn’t that impressive to be honest.

This trap inside the temple could only have been creepier if there had been blood on the axes and possibly a dead wolf impaled on one end. Something about sharp objects in Tomb Raider has always terrified and depressed me. I suppose the idea of Lara slowly bleeding to death deep in some tomb isn’t really a pleasant image.

Haha, the surprise switch that doesn’t do what it looks like it will do. It still works to this very day, when I was demonstrating it to my fianc√©, who said “it obviously opens that door” and “that’s the trouble with this game, it’s too easy” (says the man who can’t complete Tomb Raider Legend). Well, I proved him wrong! He was so angry and ashamed that he continued to iron and watch Dragon’s Den.

Another comment made on the Tomb Raider Anniversary commentary is that the animals look cute, and the bears in particular look like teddies. Well then, there is something inherently creepy about a cute teddy bear with a row of razor-sharp teeth that he keeps bearing. This picture illustrates my point.

I took this picture to illustrate the invisible-key animation that all Tomb Raiders up to TR5 included. However, I uploaded it because it looks like Lara is giving herself an spur-of-the-moment breast examination.

And that’s the end of Vilcabamba. Only managed two secrets this time, but never mind. I’m not trying to unlock a secret level or anything.


  1. Very interesting blog, I actually searching for blogs that posted their thoughts of Tomb Raider game levels and stumbled on this one. Great blog, but sadly most of pictures you posted not available anymore.

    1. Thanks for pointing that out - I think the problem is that I posted everything up to Tomb of Qualopec under a different account which presumably has now been deleted. Everything from St Francis' Folly onwards should be fine, and I'll upload the earlier images soon.

  2. You're welcome. Sorry for my late reply,I didn't know that you replied me last year. ��

    1. Sorry for mine! I've finally updated the pictures.

    2. Thanks for the replies and the pictures you have uploaded. I'm glad to know that you're still blogging. I'm looking forward to the future updates. Well,thanks for everything. Have a nice day. :-)