Lara Croft is probably the most famous female character in video game history. Her exploits have spawned a whole
string of games, toys, comics, and even a big budget movie in production. With all this, it was inevitable that
Miss. Croft would one day find herself on the Game Boy Color. But can a 3D game be toned down to 2D and still be
Tomb Raider, although baring the same title as it's 3D counterpart, is not a port. It is an all-new adventure starring
Lara Croft. So if you think you've already done this before, you are vastly mistaken. Set in South America, this
story sees Lara explore vastly spanning ruins for 5 pieces of an Obelisk. You see, this Obelisk is the only thing
that can unleash an ultimate evil and a bunch of bad-guys intend to do just that. The best way to stop the end
of the world of course is to find all the pieces before they do. Not too difficult, huh?
Tomb Raider is split up into 5 main areas, with each of those split up in about 3 sub-sections. Tomb Raider on
the Game Boy plays a lot like the old games Flashback or Prince of Persia. Traps, spikes, and sheer drops are a
lot more common (and dangerous) than opponents. But there's plenty to shoot at for the trigger-happy too. Bad guys
range from scorpions and bats, through to natives, soldiers and even the undead. At key plot development points,
Tomb Raider uses cut-scenes to tell the story (I'll talk more about them later). This helps set a purpose to your
goal. Some of the main areas contain smaller sub-quests that you need to achieve in order to obtain the next piece
of the Obelisk.
The developers have thrown in plenty of secret areas for you to find. These contain ammo and much-needed medi-packs.
In fact, if you find the secret areas, I've found that the medi-packs can be almost too common. Often I was roaming
around with at least 20 large medi-packs and over 30 small medi-packs!
This was one of the things that concerned me before playing it. The Playstation
(the home of Tomb Raider for the past 4 years) has ten buttons besides the directional and the Game Boy only has
four. How were they going to squish the controls into less than half the buttons?
Well, a few minutes playing the game and my fears were allayed. Although Eidos managed to downsize the controls,
they did not leave out any of the moves that you could pull-off in the Playstation version. It will of course take
you a while to get a handle on all of Miss. Croft's moves, but once you've learnt them, they quickly become instinctual.
Tomb Raider possibly has the most controls to learn in any Game Boy game to date. The instruction booklet even
dedicates four pages just for the moves alone!
As I’ve said, all of the moves from the 3D version are there, plus one or two new ones, like shooting from a ladder
for instance. One move that surprised me when I saw it was the handstand. This is not listed in the instruction
booklet. This move is totally pointless, but it does look cool. It also means that the old Sega Saturn is still
the only console that Lara has appeared on where she can't do the handstand (for those who want to know how to
do it, hold A and B while hanging on a ledge and press up). Lara Croft also has a handy “look” feature, which lets
you view the surrounding area before making a plunge or leap. Using “look” will eliminate a lot of risk and can
be very, very useful.
Lara herself is very fluid and full of animation. There are separate animations
for walking, going into a sprint, changing direction, coming to a halt, etc. Her 45-pixel height also means plenty
of detail, but don't worry, Lara doesn't look all that large, nor does she dominate the entire screen. The camera
zooms in just enough to see details, but is out far enough for you to still see what’s ahead. The backgrounds can
be a little bland at times, and some breakable things can be obvious, but overall, the finished product looks nice.
Eidos have made extensive use of the recently developed High-Res mode in Tomb Raider. The cut-scenes are made up
from series of luscious, 2000 color stills. These are 3D rendered pictures made especially for this Game Boy game.
They've also used the High-Res for the start screen and the inventory screen.
Sound & Music
Tomb Raider fans needn't despair, the theme that's been in all games to
date is back in an all new mix. Unfortunately, the start is about the only place you'll here music for the entire
game, except for when you enter a new area. One of the things that was good in the 3D version was the tension building
music. This is sadly lacking and the game feels quiet without it.
The producers were also sparse in the sound effects department. Sure, we've got the banging of the guns, and the
sigh of relief when you find a medi-pack, but all the characters are quiet during movement. Lara also no longer
makes a sound when you slam her, accidentally or not, against a stone wall. Sad, huh?
Tomb Raider, like many other gun-toting, item finding, platform leaping
adventure games, requires perseverance and lots of patience. Although there is plenty of exploration, there is
also an equal amount of accidental death. This is not a game for the easily frustrated, or for those looking for
something that they can finish in a few hours. Some might also see the constant searching for new routes as tedious
and repetitive, while others might bulk at the number of moves that they need to learn.
Seasoned players will, however, love the challenge, and Lara fans will not be disappointed. For beginners or those
thinking to buy their first ever platform game, Tomb Raider is definitely a good choice. It’s nicely made, looks
gorgeous (especially with the high-res stills) and is backed-up by a 3D legacy and game company that has garnered
world-wide accolades and distinctions.
Everything in Tomb Raider is polished and high-quality, and despite the sexual overtones that Lara has earned in
the 3D gaming arena, the Game Boy version is kid friendly but most importantly, a good and enjoyable game. I loved