We need to bring back classic Lara Croft! Of course, Tomb Raider fans are used to losing her; she was buried under a pile of rubble at the end of The Last Revelation, and in the closing moments of The Angel of Darkness she disappeared into the shadowy world of development hell (the publisher Eidos had just fired her creators!)
Of course, there’s been no shortage of Tomb Raider games over the last 24 years – in fact the latest instalment Shadow of the Tomb Raider landed in 2018. What, then, is the issue? Has Lara Croft even gone away? Hasn’t she always been here…?
Why bring back classic Lara Croft?
Whichever way you cut it, we haven’t had a dose of classic Lara for a long, long time. But opinion is divided on when, exactly, our hero left us. For some, Tomb Raider Chronicles (2000) drew the definitive line in the sand. For others, it was after the sacking of Core Design at the end of The Angel of Darkness (2003.) Still others maintain that Crystal Dynamics’ earlier Tomb Raider endeavours constitute ‘classic Lara,’ meaning that we last saw her in Lara Croft and The Temple of Osiris (2014) on the PS4, or even in 2015’s Lara Croft Go.
For me – maybe a curveball – but 2008’s Tomb Raider Underworld marked the last time we saw the ‘real’ Lara Croft. I concede that the same character appears in Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light (2010) and its sequel, but they aren’t recognisably Tomb Raider games in my opinion – at least not in format. That means that I’ve been waiting in anticipation for 12 very long years, and I’m starting to get restless!
That being said, I have played (and loved) the reboot trilogy, which kicked off with the simply-named Tomb Raider in 2013 and culminated in Shadow of the Tomb Raider five years later. I think these are excellent games, and I thoroughly enjoyed playing them. And replaying them. Actually, I would cite Tomb Raider 2013 as being one of the greatest games I’ve ever played.
But those titles didn’t bring back classic Lara Croft. The protagonist in those adventures was not Lara, except in name. She was considerably younger. Her backstory was different. Her personality was unrecognisable. Her signature weapons (the dual pistols) were nowhere to be seen. This was a woman who shared the name of the intrepid archaeologist, but that was where the similarity ended. Classic Lara Croft was a sassy, smooth-talking, all-round-kick-ass rebel who turned her back on high society for the thrill of adrenaline-fuelled exploits. Reboot Lara, however, is a fearful, unwilling adventurer, dragged kicking and screaming into dangerous situations, fuelled by a primal need to survive.
There’s nothing wrong with the latter approach, by the way; I love reboot Lara, in all her multi-faceted glory, and those games are stunningly well-made. But this is not the Lara Croft that I grew up with.
Tomb Raider on the Nintendo Switch?
Now, one thing that I know Tomb Raider fans would go nuts for – myself included – is a remastered port of all the original games onto the Nintendo Switch. Wouldn’t that be amazing? The demand is certainly there; in fact the conversation takes up a large percentage of my Twitter feed!
And yet the publisher Square Enix has been extremely coy in addressing these requests, and I find the radio silence baffling. I could be wrong, but there seems to be a lot of resistance to old-school Lara at Square Towers. I don’t know why they won’t bring back classic Lara Croft, even as a glorious bundle on the Switch. Could it be that they don’t have access to the original source code? Could there be rights issues involved? Given that we’ve seen up-scaled and revamped versions of the earlier Tomb Raider games on many other platforms in recent years (such as iOs) then I doubt there are any development barriers standing in their way.
As such, I really don’t see what the problem is. I can only speculate. I certainly know – looking at other fandoms – that there is a widespread resistance to giving the fans what they want, as if all enthusiasts are psychotics and any submission to their demands would be tantamount to panderism (not strictly a word.) I see this with Sonic the Hedgehog, Star Wars, Doctor Who… “Don’t listen to the fans!” say the creators. “Are you crazy?!”
Well, I might be crazy but I always thought that fans were customers? Imagine if Starbucks threw out all its coffee and started selling Huel, deaf to the protestations of its caffeine lovers. “We hear you, but we need to move forward and reach a wider audience.” Or even, “Listen to all those crazy people crying that they want their coffee back! Jeez, fans are crazy…!”
Now, in Square Enix’s case I could be completely wrong about this, so I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they are listening. Maybe they do have it in mind to listen to their customers and bring back classic Lara Croft in some form – be it in re-releases of the old games, or even a new title with old school Lara at the front and centre. But I’m starting to doubt.
So if you’re reading this, Square Enix – please offer us something! We’re not crazy, we’re passionate. We love Lara and want to continue going on adventures with her. And at a base level – we’re customers with money that we’d like to give you! So, please…?
Also, someone has set up a petition to bring back classic Lara Croft! Feel free to sign it and lend your support to this very important cause 😉
In the meantime, tell me what you think. Would you like to see a return of classic Lara? Or perhaps the reboot games are your only ‘Lara Croft’ experience… Do you consider these to be definitive? Let me know in the comments below!