The PlayStation Classics: Tomb Raider

September 14, 2018Written by Jenni Lada

Tomb Raider PSone classic

The PlayStation Classics has returned! It is time to reminisce about some of the PSOne Classics and PS2 Classics you probably should have played when they first appeared, but still should definitely grab for your favorite compatible console. This week, we are looking at the Tomb Raider PSOne Classic to prepare ourselves for Shadow of the Tomb Raider.

When Tomb Raider first released on the PlayStation in 1996, it did a lot of things we did not really see and expect often from games. We had a female protagonist who was intelligent, capable, and attractive exploring a polygonal. She became an icon. Her abilities (and outfits) were legendary. It gave people an adventure where the focus was on solving puzzles and exploring that was more involved than platformers released during the period, but were more thoughtful than many action games at the time. Needless to say, it made a big impression on people. Eventually, it spawned a long running series with 19 main games and spin-offs.

Even though Tomb Raider started it all, it did not waste time with showing Lara’s origins. Instead, it jumped right into a mystery. After being hired by Jaqueline Natla, CEO of Natla Technologies, to acquire an artifact from Peru’s Qualopec tomb, Lara realizes the Scion is only one piece of a greater whole and the woman she was working for might just be a villain.

What follows is a game that started a trend that is continued and explored in subsequent Tomb Raider games. This entry straddled the line between exploring tombs that might take inspiration from actual historical ruins, dealing with people who probably would want to use ancient cultural artifacts for ill intentions, and weaving supernatural elements into the story in a way that add tension, drama, and somehow feel appropriate. Lara’s investigations result in her dealing with some elements that come out of left field, but by the end of the story, things do end up making sense.

Tomb Raider also introduced us to a heroine who was more than she appeared to be. Details on her background were not established and embellished until later games, but her attitude showed that she was more than some thief robbing landmarks of important pieces of history. While she was a tomb raider, the way she acted, behaved, and carried herself suggested there was more to her identity. Later games, especially the recent Crystal Dynamics trilogy, have explored that.

Essentially, this first Tomb Raider built a foundation. It was revolutionary when it launched in 1996 on the PlayStation, Sega Saturn, and PC. People had not really been exposed to this sort of action-adventure opportunity, and it became a gaming touchstone. In addition to later N-Gage and mobile ports, a Gold PC version with two extra chapters acting as epilogues and Anniversary retelling for the PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable, PC, Wii, and Xbox 360 also appeared. This one game showed how incredible the explorations of an archaeologist could be.

Does rehashing Lara Croft’s early days feel like a good idea? It is available as a PSOne Classic in both North America and Europe! For $9.99/£4.99, you can relive her glory days on your PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable, or PlayStation Vita. And, in case you need other PlayStation Classic recommendations, you can always read more about Saiyuki: Journey West or The King of Fighters Collection: The Orochi Saga!