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We discuss Lara Croft and the Tomb Raider series in this episode, and naturally we had to talk about Lara being used by advertisers and the publishers of the Tomb Raider series for her sex appeal. Thankfully, this was a very short lived period of time - although, it should never have happened at all.
As such, when we discuss Lara Croft in the cultural zeitgeist, we discussed her placement as a sex icon, and the sex appeal that the advertisers leant on her for. As such, this might spark uncomfortable conversations with any little ones who also might listen.
Please listen responsibly
At 33:30, B had something to say and we felt that it leaving unedited was warranted. He said:
We still have one hell of a long fucking way to go
Note from Jay:
In this instance, B was talking about how, as a society, all people are still not seen as equal and given equal rights. And as producer and overseer of this production, I took the decision that we would leave that cuss in there. Not to politicise the show notes of a podcast about video games, but B has a point. And that’s why I chose to leave the swear in.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us via our Contact Page, Twitter (DMs are open), or on Facebook if you think that I was in error with this decision.
Remember when Tomb Raider came out? We do, and it turned 25 this year. Twenty-five years old! imagine that.
To celebrate this occasion, we brought The B back on to the show. This was largely because The B and Squidge have an encyclopedic knowledge of video games and when you pair them up, they become a force to be reckoned with.
But in order to do this, we needed suitable Tomb Raider-y names. Our names were chosen for our favourite canon/series of Tomb Raider games
it’s a whole thing
We’re all big fans of these games, and Jay had taken to streaming Tomb Raider: Anniversary on our Twitch channel
But before we could talk about the series, we needed to talk about the intro to the first game and the first level, and just where they take place. Apparently, we had no idea whether it was:
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon…
or New Mexico
Eddie Izzard references are cool, right?
And we all agree that Lara Croft seems to be getting younger, whilst we all get older
seriously, what’s that about?
Apparently, this is because the newer games are set before the first (chronologically) released game. Which lead Jay to attempt to tell a joke:
I wanted to be a reboot, but they I took an arrow to the knee
Which, we can all agree, was a pants attempt at a joke. And not even related to the topic of discussion.
Jay’s First Tomb Raider Game
Jay was the first to answer
probably because he’s the oldest, or some other nonsense reason
with the first Tomb Raider game on the PS1. Even though his memories of the second game are a little stronger, because he liked to use the cheat which made Lara explode when playing the first area of Tomb Raider 2
Jay here, I also used to use TR2 as a way of remembering the formula for calculating the area of a circle: πr2
Ok, it’s doesn’t resemble TR2 that much. But it was enough for me to pass my high school maths exams
Anyway, back to the show notes.
Apparently, Jay played the first three PlayStation games, then skipped over everything until Anniversary. Meaning that he skipped over The Angel of Darkness
talk about an accidental save
Tomb Raider Foot
Leg End, you see
and Tomb Raider Underwater
Tomb Raider Underworld
And a quick reference to the Underworld movies by Squidge lead to The B making a reference to the EuroGamer Twitch streams of Dark Souls:
🎵Sexy sexy. Kate Beckinsale🎵
Squidge’s First Tomb Raider Game
Squidge’s first Tomb Raider title was the Sega Saturn port of the first game, but his strongest memories are over his overclocked
overclocked from 133MHz to 166MHz
Pentium CPU based computer and the PC version of the game. This was at a time when Squidge didn’t have sufficient heating in his bedroom, meaning that his hands where that cold that he would have to occasionally pause the game to check whether they where still there.
The B’s First Tomb Raider
Even though The B had played the PlayStation versions of the original games, they were never his copies of the games; preferring to play at friend’s houses. But his first Tomb Raider game that he completed was Tomb Raider: Legend.
Reminiscing on Lara’s First Adventure
Squidge dropped a story about the first time he ever saw the original PlayStation version of the game, and how none of the people playing it had read the instruction manual
remember when reading the manual was required?
And Jay decided to talk about how 3D action platformers in the 90s where developed with a
throw everything at the wall and see what sticks
feel. But we all agreed that both the first Tomb Raider and Super Mario 64 arguably set the standard for what a 3D action platformer should be, and how the world of it should behave.
Interestingly, the first five or six Tomb Raider games where released almost yearly and used (largely) the same engine across them all. But the games weren’t just level packs, the designers of the games where able to add to the experience and what would become the “Tomb Raider” format.
The Rage Inducing Features of Tomb Raider
We couldn’t talk about the Tomb Raider games without talking about some of the many ways that the games could induce rage in it’s players. And none more so that
And of course there’s Squidge’s example:
This is the seventh time I’ve tried this jump, why are you not gripping?
Lara Croft in Popular Culture
Lara Croft, you’ll agree, was a huge piece of late 90s/early 2000s popular culture the world over
not bad for an Indiana Jones rip-off
Movies, fashion lines, endorsements from Lucozade, the connections to popular culture meant that Lara Croft was known by non-video gamers. And there aren’t that many video game characters who the general populace know. And not just because the games came along at the height of the Girl Power movement in the mid 90s, too.
Then again, it’s always difficult to talk about Lara Croft without talking about how, as a character, she was exploited for her sex appeal. For example, Lara was the first 3D video game character to be considered as a sex icon, even though Lara was a strong character.
She was an icon to many, many people, and a hero to a lot of others
Though we all agree that the timing of the first Tomb Raider game was phenomenal, it was not purely down to that timing. All of the kudos should go to the team behind the first game - they put in the toil and effort required to create a game which was fun to play, had a well rounded
main character, and a great story.
That being said, the way that Tomb Raider was advertised was very sleazy. But we all agree that the way the media and general populace responded was spot on, as Lara had set up unacceptable standards of beauty, and Eidos and the media responded in the correct way - which was to tone down the sleaze as much as they could
I mean, they could have just not done it in the first place - Jay
Our Favourite Tomb Raider Games
And of course we wanted to talk about our favourite Tomb Raider games - this is a video game podcast, after all.
B’s favourite is Tomb Raider: Legend
previous Tomb Raider games had used a grid system, and this felt like a more naturalistic way of controlling Lara
Bringing the “Hollywood” treatment to the Tomb Raider games elevated them from their, admittedly, fun but slightly rigid beginnings to a level which was more puzzle and action orientated. This helped to bring a new generation of fans into the fold, and gave the long-in-the-tooth fans something refreshing to experience.
Squidge’s favourite is Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness
the first game - but the Sega Saturn version
because I have never, ever gotten so enraged and spent so much of my time battling [a game’s] camera system in my life
This isn’t to say that Squidge doesn’t enjoy the Tomb Raider (2013) - aka the start of the Survivor trilogy - onwards. By taking Lara and putting her into an impossible situation, it makes her an even stronger character.
It was at this point that Jay decided that he wanted to have a chat about just how much effort was required to get 3D games up and running, playable, and in a fun state on the Sega Saturn - a console which was designed, from the ground up, as a 2D-only machine.
[building 3D games on the Saturn] was like taking a cash machine [or ATM] and making it into a 3D printer. It, technically, can be done but you’ll have a terrible time trying to implement it.
As Jay said in the episode, “it must have been like when Sega released Virtua Fighter for the Mega Drive,”
or Genesis, for our North American friends
“it’s doable, but why would you?”
There was some minor controversy as both B and Squidge pointed out that Jay was wrong about whether Tomb Raider was ported to the Saturn or whether it was released on it first.
[Tomb Raider] came out on the Saturn first because Sony originally rejected it and asked for "more and better content". And there was an exclusivity deal: Sega had exclusivity on Tomb Raider in Europe for 6 months. But because of the exclusivity deal, the Saturn version had to be rushed, to be finished 6 weeks before originally intended.
This meant that the Saturn version had a lot more problems than the PlayStation version - as graphics don’t matter to him. This is something that Jay had chatted with (friend of the show) Jason Maddison about, and actually formed the basis of an episode of Raw with Jay
which was written and recorded at around the same time as this episode
And the first Tomb Raider game is a perfect example of this, as you can still play the first game and have a great time. And The B drops the knowledge that, had Nintendo gotten their act together, Tomb Raider might have been an N64 exclusive.
And Jay’s favourite is Tomb Raider: Anniversary for the same reasons that B mentioned for Tome Raider: Legend
There’s an area in the Greece set of levels which is essentially a column that you have to climb up and down. When I play that area [on Anniversary] I get sweaty palms, because I can feel how tall that area is.
Even considering the fact that the game included QTEs, Jay reckons that it was a perfect reboot of the original
but in traditional "Jay way", he goes on for way too long
The Worst Tomb Raider Game
We talked about our favourites, so it was only fair to talk about our least favourites in the series.
Even Angel of Darkness, I don’t think it’s that bad. It was trying something ambitious.
B goes for Tomb Raider (2003) - aka the N-Gage game. Yes, this one:
For those who have never played it, it started out life as a port of the PlayStation version but ended up being it’s own thing with 15 different levels and a challenge mode.
But compared to Tomb Raider: The Prophecy (aka the Gameboy Advanced title), it suffered because of the hardware in the N-Gage; to be fair, everything on the N-Gage suffered due to the hardware.
Jay goes with Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness because it was clearly not finished before it was shipped. Even though, as a developer, his heart goes out to the developers of that game because it was rushed and they were forced to ship the game before it was ready.
As with the N-Gage version of Tomb Raider, Angel of Darkness suffered with project scope: it was too big for either the hardware (in the case of the N-Gage) or the idea was just too grand to be completed in time (in the case of Angel of Darkness).
And Squidge goes with the four player, light gun fest that is Tomb Raider Arcade
Tomb Raider is about raiding tombs. It’s not House of the Dead-style