Tomb Raider was released on October 25, 1996. The mythical title by Core Design and Eidos Interactive debuted on Sega Saturn and came to PlayStation and PC a few weeks later -in mid-November of the same year- to start a long saga starring Lara Croft, an icon that transcended video games to become a very popular character in the late 90s. She made the leap to comics, movies and became part of popular culture for a long time, although her success has gone through different periods.
The first Tomb Raider introduced us to the adventurer and archaeologist Lara Croft, who had to find an artifact in a series of catacombs and levels with puzzles and shootings. The original idea is by Toby Gard and development began in 1994 influenced by the comic Tank Girl and of course Indiana Jones. The design -inspired by Egyptian tombs- was very innovative for the time, as 3D was just starting to take its first steps and almost everything was yet to be invented in the genre.
Its release was a success, both critically and in sales, and it became one of the most sought-after games of that year along with Resident Evil; in fact until the 2013 reboot this installment was the best-selling of the saga.
The game had no problem in receiving sequels, the first in 1997 with Tomb Raider II, which in this case no longer appeared on Saturn, and even a remake with Tomb Raider: Anniversary in 2007 by Crystal Dynamics.
However, Lara has not always had it easy. Core Design proposed an annual release that ensured a Tomb Raider at Christmas time and that ended up squeezing the license with sequels that did not end up innovating enough. The sixth Tomb Raider, The Angel of Darkness from 2003, suffered development problems and its release was considered a failure that marked the series for a season. The game would then pass to Crystal Dynamics, which would release Tomb Raider: Legend in 2006, the aforementioned Anniversary and Tomb Raider: Underworld in 2008.
Although the reception of these games was positive, the success of the 90s was not repeated. Determined to try other ideas, Crystal Dynamics experimented with Tomb Raider: Ascension -of which we have seen material these days- that would evolve to the 2013 reboot, with a new image of Lara Croft and adventures more focused on survival and action. This trilogy has been closed with Rise of the Tomb Raider and Shadow of the Tomb Raider.
In the movies Angelina Jolie and Alicia Vikander have played Lara in both versions; Jolie to the 90’s/early 2000’s one, while Vikander is inspired by the reboot. A sequel crippled by the COVID pandemic is scheduled to be shot.