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Forget Call of Duty, Real Men Need the Retro Love: Tomb Raider

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chris-littlechild - April 12, 2013

Image source: wallsoc.

Yes indeed. Everyone with actual goddamn functioning eyeballs is familiar with Lara Croft. Gaming's first lady, the buxom Brit brunette has permeated popular culture like irritating magi-prick Harry Potter and whining pop crooner from the depths of Satan's sweaty ass Justin Bieber. This can partly be attributed to her vast ‘talents,' (in the Nineties, after all, the internet wasn't the porn-dispensing candy machine it would become -that's 'candy machine' in a we're out of Milk Duds, have aMASSIVE ERECTIONinstead sort of way- so her heaving chesticles were about as close as we could get to digital naughtiness) but the dizzying scope and influential nature of the games can't be discounted either.

1996‘s first venture, Tomb Raider, introduced us to Miss Croft, presumably the only remotely attractive female archaeologist to ever live/be less than a hundred years old. The premise was that she received a transmission from the owner of Natla Technologies, asking her to retrieve a lost artifact from an obscure ancient tomb in Peru. What with all the prequel-ing, sequel-ing and other shenanigans that have ensued since, this was probably not the event that led to a scandalous life of kleptomaniac crime. It's safe to venture that the dastardly aristocrat had been surreptitiously emerging from grocery stores with frozen foodstuffs concealed in her armpits/pockets/undercarriage for several years by this point.

Nevertheless, this game did carve out the gameplay template to which the series would steadfastly stick for fifteen years or so. Tomb Raider's deft blend of puzzle/exploration/action has always been its hallmark, and this was plain to see from its first installment. Indeed, it was merrily waved in our faces, like the time drunken Cousin Merl got his dick out at our wedding. That was a disturbing moment for all concerned.

But our train of thought doesn't make a stop at Crazy Town, so back to business: there was platform-ery, a little light gunplay, perilous insta-death jumps to be made and equally perilous, equally insta-death bastard spikes that would instantaneously murder you in the face if so much as one of your errant nasal hairs brushed against them. The puzzling was, at times, utterly befuddling; many of us were driven to old-style level select cheats to make any sort of progress, or to enable us to simply cavort in a new death-ground and shoot angry tigers in the ballbag with a Desert Eagle. (There was also, of course, that illusory ‘topless' cheat later. Merely being jaggier than a damn Sabre Tooth Tiger's mouth wouldn't put off enterprising young onanists. Cue much "MOM! DO YOU HAVE TO COME IN HERE WHEN I'VE GT MY BALLS IN MY HAND? ...Again?" Which did not, even slightly, ever happen to us.)

Even so, this doesn't detract from the wonderment of Tomb Raider, nor its seminal influence on the Gamingsphere. In the same manner as Metal Gear Solid, it was an adventure that seemed almost too ‘sophisticated,' too steeped in grandeur and scope, for the humble craptacular PlayStation. Lara Croft's capers were instrumental in the rising success of this newfangled video gaming IN ACTUAL 3D thing, and slightly wonky controls aside, it arrived with a fully-formed, wonderfully executed plan to this end. For this, we salute Core Design and the jiggly gymnast they created.

Finally, here's a quick dose of nostalgic trailer-ing for your delectation:

Images source: gamefaqs.

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