Tomb Raider: A Brief History

Tomb Raider follows the adventures of Lara Croft, a British female archaeologist in search of ancient treasures. Tomb Raider was widely praised by gaming magazines for its revolutionary graphics, inventive game play, and involving storyline.

It was developed by Core Design and is arguably its most famous (amongst other classics such as Chuck Rock and Heimdall) and its most successful game.

Developed by Toby Gard (hailed as the creator of Lara) and Paul Howard Douglas, the original Tomb Raider began development in 1993 but was not released until November 1996 for the PC, PlayStation, and Sega Saturn. The game was critically acclaimed and widely influential, spawning 5 sequels with Core Design. Core developed Tomb Raider games up until the release of Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness, which can be argued as the most unsuccessful game in the series.

Publisher Eidos then passed the reinvention of the franchise onto Crystal Dynamics, who in turn reinvented Lara for a new generation of gamers and hardware in Tomb Raider: Legend and Tomb Raider: Anniversary (a rethinking of the original game by Core Design).

There are two different continuities within the Tomb Raider video games. The first continuity was created by Core Design, and encompasses the first six Tomb Raider games. The second and current continuity was introduced by Crystal Dynamics for the series’ reinvention in Tomb Raider: Legend. Both continuities were created with the participation of Toby Gard who also returned to assist with the reinvention of his character in Tomb Raider: Anniversary (2007).

Core Design

Core Design was set up in 1988 by Chris Shrigley, Andy Green, Rob Toone, Terry Lloyd, Simon Phipps, Dave Pridmore, Jeremy Smith and Greg Holmes. Most were former employees of Gremlin Graphics. Core Design was acquired by Eidos Interactive in 1996 through US Gold. Core continued development of the Tomb Raider games until 2003 with Angel of Darkness. The company became defunct in 2006.

The list of Tomb Raider games released by Core is:

Tomb Raider (1996)
Tomb Raider II (1997)
Tomb Raider III (1998)
Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation (1999/2000)
Tomb Raider Chronicles (2000)
Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness (2003)

And expansions:

Tomb Raider: Unfinished Business (1998)
Tomb Raider II: Golden Mask (1999)
Tomb Raider III: The Lost Artifact (2000)

Crystal Dynamics

Crystal Dynamics was formed in 1992 by Sega veterans Judy Lange, Madeline Canepa and Dave Morse (Amiga). Crystal was the first licensed developer for 3DO. Crystal Dynamics was acquired in 1998 by Eidos Interactive and by 2003, Eidos Interactive moved development of the Tomb Raider franchise from Core (which had limited success with its later Tomb Raider titles) to Crystal Dynamics.

The list of Tomb Raider games released by Crystal Dynamics is:

Tomb Raider: Legend (2006)
Tomb Raider: Anniversary (2007)
Tomb Raider: Underworld (2008)

The latest Tomb Raider game from Crystal Dynamics has now been released, it not only breaks away from the ‘Tomb Raider’ brand but it offers more arcade action style gameplay from a raised isometric view and a fixed camera point. It also offers multiplayer and online play.

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light (2010)

The story in the game begins 2000 years ago in ancient Central America and focuses on a battle began between Totec, the Guardian of the Light, and Xolotl, the keeper of darkness. Totec’s army was defeated when Xolotl used the mirror of smoke to unleash hordes of ghastly creatures. Totec survived said battle, and found a way to defeat Xolotl, imprisoning him in the mirror of smoke and watching over the mirror as an immortal stone statue.

In present day, Lara Croft reads of the legend and attempts to find the mirror. After a long and dangerous hike she is successful. She stops to observe the mirror, only to find that a band of mercenaries led by the local warlord (why are mecenaries so interested in Archaeology?) followed her into the temple and took the mirror from her, but accidentally releases Xolotl. The stone statue of Totec comes to life and warns Lara that Xolotl must be stopped before the light of dawn. Depending on the number of players participating, Lara and Totec either join forces or go separate ways to try to stop Xolotl.

Eidos Interactive

Eidos Interactive is a publisher of video and computer games with its parent company based in England. Eidos plc became the parent company of Eidos Interactive and was founded in 1990 by Stephen Bernard Streater. In 1996 it acquired CentreGold which included US Gold and Core Design. Eidos has published all the Tomb Raider games to date. Eidos Interactive is now a part of Square Enix (April 2009). Some of Eidos portfolio of published games includes the Hitman series, Thief series and Deus Ex series.

Back in the Day…

Tomb Raider is the first game I had for my Sega Saturn and from the moment the title screen appeared and its signature title music began I was hooked. Even though I love the new games, and thoroughly enjoyed the anniversary Edition, nothing will match the feeling of playing the original for the first time. The graphics were impressive and a control system I’d not experienced before was quick and easy to get used to, it opened up a whole new world of exploration and puzzle solving as well as story telling and action.

One of my all time favourite retro games, some of my favourite levels from the original include St Francis Folly, which you may or may not recall contains the Neptune, Thor, Atlas and Damocles puzzles. How many people made it to the top of that tower and considered a nose dive straight down?  The Cistern and the Obelisk of Khamoon are also favourites, The Cistern mainly for how vast and impressive the playing area was when you first saw it. The title music (and incidental music) make playing this through again worthwhile and certainly brings back a lot of memories.

The first game also includes some more memorable villains, the more modern games the villains do not seem to make as much of an impact. The final boss fight in Tomb Raider with Natla is great, as well as the troublesome Pierre who always popped up to take a pot shot at you at inconvenient times!

For a taste of the original soundtrack see Tomb Raider Title Music!


4 thoughts on “Tomb Raider: A Brief History

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s