Lara Croft made her debut in Tomb Raider and what a debut it was. This was the start of a franchise that is still going today. This game also represents the media savviness of, then, new to gaming Sony. Core Design, based in the United Kingdom at the time of development, were responsible for bringing Lara’s adventures to life. Pulling inspiration from Tank Girl and, of course, Indiana Jones, quickly seduced gamers into the spelunking world. Lara Croft being somewhat scantily clad probably had something to do with it as well.
Making a splash in Tomb Raider
I remember reading about Tomb Raider in gaming publications of the mid-1990’s. It was a game that was interesting to me for many reasons. One being the setting, ever since I saw that episode of G.I. Joe where they were fighting in a pyramid I was hooked on this stuff. Playing as a girl from the get-go was also unique – by this point we all knew Metroid starred a girl too. Considering Lara’s gymnastic capabilities, it was much easier to accept a female lead than a muscular Arnold Schwarzenegger style character.
Then there was the game engine itself. Up to this generation of gaming, spelunking was either overhead or side view in nature. 3D was pretty much relegated to First-Person Shooters (FPS). Naturally, in an FPS, you do not see your character and there is, hopefully, no platforming or climbing.
In Tomb Raider, you not only saw your character, but you also saw more of the level. It was easy to look around, see a narrow passage or enemy, then figure out how to reach it or destroy it. This would be nearly impossible in a first-person view only game.
Standing out from the crowd was easy
Quite frankly, there was nothing like Tomb Raider, so Lara Croft stood tall, proud, and alone. Sure, there were other 3D games, but they were different genres. Jumping Flash, released a year earlier, was a 3D action game that stuck with the first-person view. On 3DO there were titles like Immercenary but the less I say about that the better.
What I am trying to say, again, is Lara Croft knew she was alone here. So did Sony. You see, the success of Tomb Raider made the new console maker make Core Design an offer they could not turn down.
That was to make Tomb Raider a PlayStation exclusive until the year 2000.
Yep, Sony effectively messed over Sega and Nintendo with a gaming coup that was unbelievably important.
The first Tomb Raider game made its debut on Sony PlayStation, Sega Saturn, and DOS for PC’s. That would be the only release for the Sega Saturn console. Gaming publications of the time falsely ran rumors that this was due to the Saturn being overly complicated to program for.
Going PlayStation only
Sony threw the gauntlet down. If you wanted to play Tomb Raider it would be on a console it was going to be on PlayStation. Other developers would follow suit and make PlayStation exclusive games. I do not know if those companies were also bought off like Core Design was. I do know that Electronic Arts would skip the next Sega console, the Sega Dreamcast, due to problems with the Saturn’s handling by Sega.
Over the years we saw fans work cosplay, make fan movies, and more. Were you one of these fans? If so, let us know, we love checking out new content with familiar characters.
What Tomb Raider game got you into the franchise? While I have not played them all, I have played most of them over the years. For the most part, this has been a fun adventure with minor hiccups here and there.
For fun, here is my first nostalgia article on Tomb Raider from 2013. Some times a game just needs an updated article.