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Today in History: November 14th, 1996- Lara Croft Begins Spelunking in Tomb Raider

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Tomb Raider is one of those games that came along during a magical time of gaming, the transition from 16-bit to 32-bit. A time when developers were trying to show off new styles of games that the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis. At first the games were pretty blocky polygonal messes on the new, for the time, systems. Then we got a glimpse of Tomb Raider and Lara Croft in all of her blocky, pointy chested glory. Now it was a case of which system to support? Sega Saturn or Sony Playstation. Here is a hint, Core Design, the people behind the original Tomb Raider made it clear early on that they didn’t want to work on Saturn anymore (guess which system gamers flocked to?).

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Showing off the camera movement on Playstation One.

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Of the original releases, the Sega Saturn version was the worst looking, and pointy too.

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Indoor scene on on the Sega Saturn.

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Similar scene on the Playstation One.

While we cannot attribute the death of the Sega Saturn to fans knowing that sequels based on the adventures of Lara Croft were not coming, it certainly did not help Sega sell more systems. Lara Croft was a phenom in gaming, she was on gaming covers, real models were hired to portray her at trade shows and there were even a couple of movies made featuring the scantily clad female Indiana Jones. Marketing was having a field day.

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Indoor scene on PC.

Generally speaking, the game was quite blocky but so was nearly everything during this time, developers were learning new systems and completely new ways to create games that they never had access to before. Add to this the fact that gamers were getting to experience new games they never saw before and it equalled a sales success for the franchise.

Controlling Lara from the third person gives you plenty of time to view her blocky butt, which was a reason cited in an interview with Core Design about the game. It was stated that they made the choice for a female character over a male character due to the view.

Tomb Raider was quite literally the first time in gaming that the player really felt like they were exploring an abandoned, except for the wildlife, caves and cities. It was a magical point in gaming for those of us that lived through the beginnings such as Atari 2600 on up into the Super Nintendo (all of which really kept the same gameplay elements). This was a true departure from what had come before and a signal what gamers could expect going forward.

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Tomb Raider on PSOne- Lara about to take a leap of faith.

There were so many moments in Tomb Raider the first time you played it that made your heart stop for a second. Such as that first time jumping from multiple stories up into a pool of water- what would happen to Lara? Would she fall broken like she did at that height on land? Could she even swim

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The T-Rex makes his presence known on the Playstation One.

Another scary moment was meeting the T-Rex, yes, that is a spoiler for anyone that has not seen a commercial for the game as that thing was featured prominently everywhere. The T-Rex was presented quite well, with an in engine cut scene and everything setting up this monstrosity that shouldn’t exist, but did.

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Tomb Raider Anniversary. Picture courtesy of Wired.com

Tomb Raider as been remade/rebooted at least two times. Tomb Raider: Anniversary was a remake of the original, with some creative liberties taken along the way. This version hit Playstation Portable, Playstation 2, Wii, Windows and Xbox 360 at various times in 2007.

In 2013, Square Enix released a reboot of the series with Tomb Raider for Windows, Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. This version was criticized for featuring a younger Lara Croft in severe survival situations that probably touched home with some gamers just a little too much.

For those interested, yes, there is a “nude” patch for the PC version of Tomb Raider.  We will not be showing any pictures of this patch for various reasons but it is out there for those interested in it.

There are many fan films based around the franchise (below is one starring Anna Tyrie):

Not to mention lots of cosplay available (both professionally and fans)

Digital releases are available for these versions at these stores:

Tomb Raider (original) Playstation Store (PSOne) Steam (Windows)
Tomb Raider (reboot by Square Enix) Playstation Store (PS3) Steam (Windows) Xbox 360
Tomb Raider: Anniversary Playstation Store (Playstation Portable) Steam (Windows) Xbox 360

Carl Williams

Carl has been gaming since he was five years old with the Atari 2600 on up to the Super Nintendo and Playstation Portable and Android. Being involved in gaming media for over five years has only sharpened his skills with new challenges in gaming and how to best relay it to others.

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