Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Tomb Raider - A Fan's Perspective

Tomb Raider – A Fan’s Perspective

  Sometime ago in the mid-nineties, I found myself in the middle of a new generation of gamers. Some of us were moving towards 3D gaming, with a 360 perspective and all sorts of new ideas. I come from the 2D classic gaming era, the usual platformer, or catchy tune that plays in every level. Little did I know, I was part of something bigger, something evolving before our very eyes.

  It was the summer of 1996, the PSX was just narrowly overtaking the Nintendo 64. I recall this pretty well because it was advertised in every toy shop from KB’s to Toys R’ US. Oddly enough everyone’s reaction was different, maybe it was just the job they had, or it was just some way to keep themselves afloat. Even with times changing I hadn’t saved up for a console in years. And just that upcoming crazy season, did a friend offer to let me hangout and play a few Playstation games with them.

  Within their gaming library was a mix of role playing, to action titles. There were a few sparse games, I think they had close to 20 at the time. They were doing a few summer jobs, which I was also keeping myself busy. But during the weekends, it was just our game time. Come the fall, then winter a bunch more games were hitting shelves. As it turns out my friend was hyped about this new platformer called Tomb Raider. I thought at first, maybe it’s because my friend is a woman its why she looks up to characters like this. Then it made me think back to Metroid, where Samus Aran turned heads…

  So with money saved, we put our cash together and voila. Except the fact that she had plans to visit family elsewhere, so it would be a little while longer till we indulged this crazy adventure. So I kept my mind off of the game for awhile, till I stumbled upon a kiosk in one of the local stores. Turns out Tower Records actually had a competition for the best time trials in the first stage demo. I tried out, and found my way around the level, even winding up getting over a bunch of pitfalls. And sadly not getting past a few key areas, without screwing up and, seeing the poor character fall many times. I phoned my friend to let her know about this contest, she got a bit jealous but wished me luck. I braved the level various times to pinpoint where the hazards were till I finally got adjusted to the unique setup. Although I didn’t win, I learned that this game would not be a cakewalk.

  Metroid, taught me a lesson of patience (it was actually this same female friend that told me about it). Then I turned things around, to find out Samus was all along a lady fighting a horde of space pirates. Still to this day, its something I can never forget, and the look on her face when we took turns going through every pitfall, and how many screams of glee or terror whenever we hit a snag.

  I have to be honest faithful reader, this is actually the first time I’m writing about my misadventures in gaming. So let’s press on shall we?

  Back to Tomb Raider, it contained tons of chills, spills, and narrow platforms that would make Mario, Sonic, and Samus blush. Even though the graphics at the time were the best they could deliver. That PSX pushed itself so much, it was crisp, and the atmosphere truly felt alive. Just getting past every obstacle was a feat of itself, and every time you missed something it was totally your fault. (and I learned the hard way along with my friend as we went through every peril together, and I got hit with pillows every time!) Each and every level contained unique levels of difficulty. The further you explored, the tougher it would get. But the main headache to overcome was the loading screens. Oh the nightmares! Just for one mis-step that made you Swiss cheese over spikes, or a pancake thanks to a boulder. Loading screens in TR were such a pain, but getting over that it was a joy to get back into spelunking.

  Looking back to those days of the first TR was a blast. And I was thankful I wasn’t alone in the journey. And now, Tomb Raider is undergoing a rebirth, thanks to the team that worked on the original game. (Along with another friends’ guiding wing) It’s going to be a fantastic chapter, every Lara Croft fan will want to play and share with others.

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